Desire for styles from elsewhere
Exotic fashions from other places are on the radar for Polynesian vahinés. With roomy clothes made of comfortable textiles for day or evening, Balinese fashions are all the rage.
What do Batik, Wilde or Disini have in common? They are brands that are becoming more popular among Polynesian women with styles inspired from Bali. The trailblazer was Disini, which actually started its line with furniture. The director, Sophie Suarjana, knows Bali well as she is married to a Balinese. She says, “Furniture is our base, but for the past seven years, we have added a clothing line.”
Punjabi pants, tunics and other accessories comprise most of the inventory in the Papeete-based boutique. The clothes are much in demand, since “Balinese clothing with its colors, shapes, relaxed style and reasonable prices fuse well with the Polynesian lifestyle. We love Bali chic, but we don’t offer this particular style.”
The Batik and Wilde brands monopolize the market. Once you enter the Boutique Batik in downtown Papeete, the natural colors and a sense of being on vacation take you far away from our islands. However, the ambience is from Bali—another paradise with stunning beaches and warm weather. This is where Bohemian chic is all the rage and where jetsetters arrive from around the world to shop.
Tamara is the creator of the Batik brand. She started out three years ago through showing her clothing during exhibits and fairs on Toa’ata Plaza in Papeete. She had immediate success. Charlotte Renaud, her business partner, explains: “Customers kept coming back, fair after fair. They even came to Tamara’s house to seek new designs.”
The clothing line became so popular that they opened a boutique in June, 2015. Stephanie, a loyal customer, is thrilled with her finds of the day—a basic khaki tank top and a skirt with natural tones and motifs. This fashionista exclaims, “Batik offers clothing that is finely detailed, light and very contemporary. It can be worn anywhere for day or evening. I love the Balinese style because of the comfortable materials. You can be chic and relaxed at the same time.”
Another advantage of this brand is a continually upgraded inventory, which is critical on our isolated South Pacific island. Stephanie adds, “They are always coming out with new clothes, which is so enticing that I stop by as often as I can. I find something new every two weeks. I am hooked!” This is a great way to find clothes that others are not wearing. Girlfriends show up at Batik as well as mother-daughter teams.
The clothes appeal to a large audience – teens, young women and older women. Bali is the Mecca for designers wishing to find new trends. Moehau Aumerand is a young Polynesian woman who lives in Bali for half of the year. She created the Wilde brand. She says, “In Bali, there is a huge array of materials. They come from Thailand and Vietnam. I am on a constant quest for inspiration because I don’t make Balinese fashions.” Within this context, are hibiscus and taina flowers totally out of the question? Not so sure! Charlotte Renaud says, “They are complementary. For example, everyone here wears hibiscus flowers. It is another style, quite different. A lot of Polynesians come into the boutique wearing local styles yet buy batik clothing too.” The two styles are compatible. One thing is for certain—wearing local clothing would never be a fashion faux-pas and there is room for both styles in your closet.
And bathing suits
Brazilian bikinis are much in demand on Tahitian beaches. Reva Sylvain has sold bathing suits in the Fenua (homeland) for five years and Vahinés prefer the Banco de Areia brand. Reva states, “These suits are popular because the ruched bottoms keep the buttocks well-rounded, much unlike the European brands.” They are very colorful and we now carry IndieSWIM Brazilian-style suits. This USA brand based in the very Latin city of Miami derives its inspiration from the Caribbean. “These bottoms are also ruched with brightly colored motifs, such as shells and flowers,” Reva adds.