A NEW DIRECTION. Jun Mardian, (X)S.M.L’S new owner and CEO, reveals a new direction and opines on shifts in the fashion industry to Gabriela Yosefina
Fear not the newness. That is (X)S.M.L’s new mantra in facing 2015 and beyond. After more than two decades of leading the local ready-to-wear fashion market with its edgy streetwear and standout designs, the brand has embraced a new energy and vision to face the future, all thanks to its new owner and CEO, Jun Mardian. With his extensive background in investment and retail, Mardian has rethought (X)S.M.L as a fast fashion brand with a global outlook. That is partly due to the fact that he has lived in Singapore, Tokyo and Hong Kong, as well as being educated in the States, which has afforded him an understanding of international cultures and trends. Now in charge of all aspects of the brand—from design to marketing, distribution and even visual merchandising—Mardian does seem busier than ever. However, the energetic man still spares some time to pen his personal thoughts on the brand’s recently revamped website.
Gabriela Yosefina: (X)S.M.L has now begun a new chapter under your direction. Can you tell me more about your role and what changes are you bringing on board?
Jun Mardian: This brand was established in 1999, founded by renowned Indonesian designer Biyan and his partner. Since early this year I took over the brand because the original owners decided to retire and let the younger generation take over. I have settled back in Indonesia since January. Before that I had been living in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore and New York, working in the investment and business-consulting sector. Now I have acquired a number of shares in (X)S.M.L and I’m responsible for various aspects of the brand, from designing, production to marketing. Biyan and Minarti, his partner, however, still act as advisors for the brand.
Gabriela Yosefina: Given your international background, are we going to see (X)S.M.L go beyond national borders?
Jun Mardian: Our motto is “bringing Indonesia to the front row of global fashion.” At the moment we are expanding to Singapore as well as into other regions in Indonesia. We have also re-launched our website, and changed the address from xsml.co.id to xsmlfashion.com, so that our international customers can access the site faster. We have translated every component of the website into English as well, and created a journal section that talks about style guides, what’s trending, as well as my own thoughts.
Gabriela Yosefina: Are there any changes in the overall collection as well?
Jun Mardian: Yes, we are now producing four collections per year, instead of two. The fall offerings are now already in stores, and this October we are launching our winter collection. Naturally, there are a lot of blacks, whites and charcoals this season. The main reason why we prefer four seasons is that we want to be more continuous in production as we are a ready-to-wear brand and wish to deliver fashion in a faster pace. Nevertheless, there are still hand-sewn elements and intricate details in the pieces.
Given the additional collections, we no longer produce many pieces anymore. It is also because we want to create that “limited edition” effect that excites people to go and buy our collections because the quantity is not as big as it was. Back in the day, you also had to be confident to wear (X)S.M.L, and it had an interesting history, really. However, my design philosophy is to add subtle details that speak volumes about the brand but are not too “out there.”
“My design philosophy is to add subtle details that speak volumes about the brand but are not too out there”
Gabriela Yosefina: I have browsed your menswear collection, and it seems that the silhouette and shape are now slimmer, too.
Jun Mardian: In the past (X)S.M.L usually rolled out collections that were a bit too out of the box or too edgy for men. Now, I am trying to make the menswear selections more streamlined. The prints will stay, but they will be less complicated because men always prefer basic pieces. But I cannot make the pieces that are too basic, so I put a little bit of detailing, like what I have mentioned earlier. Men also prefer neutral colors, so I don’t want to introduce bright shades in the collection. At the moment we also diversify our cutting: slim and regular fits. We also taper the bottom part of some trousers because men these days want their clothes to be more fitted.
Gabriela Yosefina: Let’s talk about your current collection. What is the main inspiration this fall?
Jun Mardian: This season our collection focuses on Japanese culture, with a lot of pleating and obi details. Nevertheless, we are not using too many colors because (X)S.M.L is known for its monochromatic palette. This way we balance the details with rather neutral shades. Meanwhile, for the winter collection there will be more industrialized effects such as big pockets, big belts and dark colors.
Gabriela Yosefina: And the winter collection is going to be launched during Plaza Indonesia Men’s Fashion Week, right?
Jun Mardian: Yes. But tomorrow we will have a fashion shoot for Sombre, the name of the collection. There will also be a video, and it will be very dark. The story is about leaving everything you have to face the future. The expression of the model will be very strong—I am thinking of someone who can look strong outside but on the inside he or she is crumbling. That is because they have experienced a lot of different things in life. Those are the kind of people I want to dress in the next season.
Gabriela Yosefina: So do you agree that fashion brands today have to pay attention to entire concepts, including branding and story?
Jun Mardian: There were times when whatever it was you were selling, as long as it was decent looking, it would sell easily. Now, people are exposed to a myriad of inspirations. You can no longer control what people see, watch, or read about your brand. That is why it is important to ensure that your story is coherent.
Gabriela Yosefina: What do you think about the current boom of local brands?
Jun Mardian: With the rise of the internet and the proliferation of smartphones, it is indeed getting easier to launch your online brand. To get to where (X)S.M.L is, however, takes more time and experience, but we have to understand that there are competitors out there. And they are very creative. Meanwhile, we have a definite head start in the local industry, although we still have to be careful.
Gabriela Yosefina: Who inspires you in your work?
Jun Mardian: I love Alexander Wang and Phillip Lim. These two have always been my inspiration; they represent Asians making it big in the States.
Gabriela Yosefina And what’s next in your expansion agenda?
Jun Mardian: We are going to have a sub-line comprising more basic pieces to be sold in various areas in Indonesia. We are also going global with xsmlfashion.com. At the same time I am thinking of expanding to Singapore (which we’ve already begun, and will continue to improve), Hong Kong and Tokyo. I have lived in those three places, so those three are the ones I’d like to focus first.
Photography Haruns Maharbina
Styling Peter Zewet
Styling assistants Triska Putri and Jay Robert Davies
Videography Dimas Anggakara and Fickar Hajar
Outfit by (X)S.M.L:
Photography Haruns Maharbina
Styling Triska Putri
Styling assistant Jay Robert Davies
Grooming Kenshie Lie
Model Renan Corbani (Image Management)