OUT WITH THE ORDINARY. A rising star in Indonesia’s menswear industry, Adamist is not just another “classic with a twist” brand. Gabriela Yosefina sits down with innovative founder Jacky Rusli
Established in 2013, Indonesia-based menswear brand Adamist is the new kid on the (fashion) block. It specializes in shirts, lots of them, and has garnered a considerable number of followers after just three seasonal collections. And it’s not hard to see why; in the hands of Jacky Rusli—the brand’s founder and designer—men’s staple pieces turn from plain and boring to edgy, contemporary and on-trend. Determined to present a more diverse selection for men, Rusli aptly injects various elements such as studs, patterns and intriguing color ways into classic shirts. He even experiments with lace and Swarovski crystals, two materials closely associated with feminine style. With a store in Pacific Place, Jakarta, Adamist is rising to become a go-to brand for men who wish to opt for a stylishly unconventional approach to shirting and suiting.
Gabriela Yosefina: Hi Jacky, how did Adamist first come about?
Jacky Rusli: Well, Adamist is actually my second business that came into fruition last year. My first venture, which I set up straight after finishing my studies in the US, is an advertising agency called Great Heart Media that is now entering its eighth year. I actually majored in industrial engineering as I was really young when I entered college, so I hadn’t quite figured out what I wanted to do. Then, halfway through my studies, I realized my desire to get into something creative. I didn’t know what it was back then, but it was definitely a step forward.
Eventually, I found my path in graphic design, which led to me setting up my own advertising venture. After learning a lot about branding, I applied these skills to developing Adamist across photography, packaging and other related aspects. This fashion brand has indeed become an outlet where I can channel my passion for fashion—a bit cliché, but that’s the reality. Although at first I had my doubts when choosing between menswear and womenswear, I ended up choosing menswear because there are simply not enough options in the market for men.
GY: What do you mean by “not enough options”?
JR: Don’t get me wrong; while there are indeed a lot of brands providing men’s clothes, in general I believe the selections available can be divided into two categories. The first is the basic one, with clothes in plain colors and really simple designs. However, the second category often contains polar opposites of the straightforward clothes in the first, avant-garde and groundbreaking but not all that wearable. So I formulate Adamist as something between the two: the meeting point of the fashionable and the basic. I am inspired by the story of “Adam and Eve” as Adam is the true male archetype. Adamist is a brand all about men that is also inspired by men.
GY: When you say that Adamist is “all about men and also inspired by men,” there are many different kinds of men out there. Do you have a specific type of man in mind when creating Adamist?
JR: If you take a look at the collection in its entirety, it does not really cater to one kind of man. There are, for instance, the studded and Swarovski-emblazoned shirts that will suit someone who is edgy and daring, a rock star perhaps. But there are also more conservative pieces sporting only a little detail or subtle accent that works best for a man who is less bold but still wants to showcase his personality through what he wears.
Rusli wearing his signature bow tie collar
“I formulate Adamist as the meeting point of the fashionable and the basic”
GY: Do you have muses that inspire Adamist?
JR: I don’t have a muse for Adamist per se, but my all-time favorite couple is Victoria Beckham and David Beckham. Head to toe, they’re always perfect. My favorite designers—this might surprise you—are actually womenswear designers such as Stella McCartney and Victoria Beckham whose creations are simple yet edgy.
GY: Being attuned to the rising demand for in-trend pieces, how important is your customers’ opinion to you?
JR: As a brand, we definitely have to value our customers’ opinion. Not just what they think or what they like, we pay attention to how they feel. Another customer-driven aspect of Adamist is the sizing—we want to make sure that Adamist pieces can fit as many men as possible. At first, we only prepared sizes from XS to XL, before we then decided to develop a more extensive range. For every size, we provide three different fits: slim, regular and loose. This is definitely helpful for men who are in between sizes, say, for someone who finds S too small but M too big, he can try a M slim fit or a S loose fit. If the fit still isn’t right, we offer custom fit. We also offer an alteration service so that after you purchase a shirt, we can shorten the sleeves or the shirt length. We do this because we believe that fit is key to dapper dressing. But Adamist is not a tailor; it is a ready-to-wear, commercial brand. Men don’t want fashion to be complicated, so we try and make it easier for them.
GY: You’ve created a signature bow tie collar that is now in the process of getting a patent. How did this come about?
JR: While I never intended to patent the bow tie collar design, the feedback from customers was so overwhelmingly positive that I decided to make it a permanent signature. It is indeed an original design—you will not find it anywhere else. Inspired by the actual bow tie, I designed this accent around a collar that you can unbutton during the day for a more casual look and button in the evening for a more formal event. Today, almost 60 percent of the shirt collection has this particular detail.
A model wearing Adamist‘s fall collection
GY: Another unique “tie” you’ve designed is the croco tie. Where does the inspiration for the piece come from?
JR: The croco tie was born from our collaboration with Rebel, a maker of everything leather, especially crocodile skin. They got in touch and asked us to create something crazy for them so I thought, why not make a bow tie out of crocodile skin? Although I wasn’t sure whether men would wear this kind of accessory, a lot of people are apparently into it. We’ve had a similarly positive response regarding our showpiece shirt with Swarovski embellishment. People often ask about it, which proves that men are actually willing to be very adventurous in their dressing—they are simply not provided with clothes that can inspire them, so they choose the safe option.
GY: It seems that you are not only adventurous in designing clothes and accessories. Your campaign also portrays a provocative sexiness that is quite adventurous for a menswear brand in Indonesia.
JR: Yes, I’ll admit this was intentional! [Laughs] Sex sells, right? It is simply a part of our message: Now men can get what women get in terms of something different and adventurous, this includes the actual clothing, as well as imagery and branding.
GY: So how do you want the brand to grow in the next five years?
JR: I would love to eventually go international. In the beginning, Adamist was intended to be an online store only, positioned for international customers. However, our local customers have been such great supporters that we wanted stay focused on the domestic market while we are still expanding. Now, we are preparing the online store to reach a bigger market, I also plan to add more accessories such as shoes and leather accouterments to the brand’s portfolio.
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