The film features clothes designed and produced collaboratively by Indonesian and South African fashion designers, and the project was launched on the Indonesian Embassy in Pretoria's YouTube channel at the end of June.
There were at least four collaborative approaches employed in the making of the film. First, there are six fashion designers participating in this project, consisting of three designers from Indonesia (Irmasari Joedawinata, Raegita Oktora and Weda Githa) and three designers from South Africa (Bianca Malan, Nabeela Francis and Lisakhanya Matya), who worked together virtually since November 2021.
Secondly, there's a collaboration of ethnic fabrics, as the designers looked to creatively combine Indonesian batik fabric and South African shweshwe fabric. Thirdly, a collaboration of shooting locations feature the stunning landscapes of the two countries, namely Melasti Beach in Bali, Indonesia, and Scarborough Beach in Cape Town, South Africa.
Finally, the project saw collaboration between various parties from Indonesia and South Africa involved in the production of the film. In producing Stories of Hope, the Indonesian Embassy in Pretoria worked together with the Indonesian Fashion Chamber (IFC), TFG and Imprint Luxury, and is supported by the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy and the Indonesia Trade Promotion Centre (ITPC) in Johannesburg.
The concept of collaboration drove the making of the film, in line with the vision of H.E. Salman Al Farisi, former Indonesian Ambassador to South Africa, who was the initiator of this project. "The more collaborative an activity is, the better the diplomatic efforts that are carried out," said Ambassador Salman, who now serves as Secretary-General of the IORA based in Mauritius.
The collaboration is intended not only to strengthen the interaction between the people of the two countries but also to promote their cultural richness and creative economy.
According to the producers, the fashion film serves as a means to reconnect the historical, cultural and emotional bonds between Indonesian and South African. The people from the now-Indonesian archipelago have coloured local society since the 17th century when royals and religious leaders from the archipelago were exiled to the Cape of Good Hope by the Dutch colonial government. As time went on, their numbers grew and these descendants of Indonesia helped form the fabric of South African society.
The participating designers from both countries said that they were challenged when they joined the project but felt proud when they succeeded in completing their work. Bianca Malan noted that although the fashion designers came from two different countries, they could work harmoniously and share the same design aesthetics.
Lisakhanya Matya said the collaboration is positive for the retail value chain and the bilateral relationship between the two countries, while Weda Githa from Indonesia commented on the cultural meaning of the project: "This activity is very positive in the effort of preserving culture, especially the traditional fabrics of the two countries, through contemporary fashion works."