Managing Asia

Managing Asia

Can this fashion brand put Indonesia on the global fashion map?

Indonesian fashion brand gains celebrity fanbase
Indonesian fashion brand gains celebrity fanbase

One Indonesian fashion designer has been gaining international kudos for his avant-garde style, and he is hoping to put Jakarta on the list of global fashion capitals.

Tex Saverio shot to fame after his bridal gown design was chosen for Jennifer Lawrence's character in the blockbuster sequel "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire."

"We were contacted by her stylist who said she was looking for a dress but not a typical wedding dress. She saw our White Collection and thought it would fit in with the theme of the movie," said Saverio. "I was so surprised that she selected me."

Tex Saverio's reputation has been gaining ground, with more international celebrities wearing his designs including reality star Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga and Japanese pop star Ayumi Hamasaki. The price tag of his hand-embroidered gowns can go up to $15,000 per piece.

Saverio's motivations and inspirations are simple: Women.

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"I want to empower [women], and make them look beautiful, that is the most important thing in the fashion industry," said Saverio, one of two Indonesian designers who are part of the Asian Couture Federation, a not-for-profit organization that aims to support and promote Asian couturiers and the Asian fashion industry.

He realized that his haute couture designs should also be translated into more wearable pieces, which was why he co-founded a ready-to-wear fashion company in 2012, roping in Warren Liu as his co-founder.

Liu did not go to fashion school but his family has been involved in the apparel manufacturing industry for decades.

Saverio and Liu began the business with a start-up capital of $200,000 and have since raised $1 million from four different investors through a very selective fund-raising strategy.

"I was extremely picky...I only wanted strategic investors who could contribute know-how and not just money," Warren Liu, chief executive officer of Saverio & Liu, told CNBC.

The entrepreneur has big ambitions to turn Saverio & Liu into Southeast Asia's first global fashion house, complete with clothing, jewelry and home product lines.

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"We should be profitable by the third-quarter," said Liu, who is also setting a $3 million sales target from the new product lines.

Up to 70 percent of the fashion brand's revenue comes from Asia, but the plan is to expand into the U.S., which undoubtedly has a huge Hunger Games fanbase.

"If you look at the New York style, which is the fashion central of the United States, it is very Calvin Klein and very Alexander Wang, with clean and basic cuts," said Liu. "Tex's designs are too loud, and none of the American buyers like it."

"We are developing a simpler product that is targeted specifically to middle America...and if we successfully manage to place an order [with one of the big chain stores], we are talking about 50,000 to 100,000 pieces," he said.