JP Staff (The Jakarta Post)
Fri, 13 May 2022
DIY beading accessories have seen a renaissance over the past two years as fashion fans embrace 90s nostalgia in a “big” way.
Fashion trends have a general tendency to adhere to the 20-year rule, with trends going out of style and then being trendy again two decades later. This is a case of the nostalgic 90s bead collection trend, which has resurfaced in the last two years.
Emerging from the DIY subculture that permeated summer camp entertainment in the United States in the 1990s and early 2000s, the bead collection trend has made a comeback amid the pandemic. The mindset behind the revival is only logical, as the pandemic restrictions mandate everyone to stay at home, where people are generally looking for activities to fill extra time.
This is what happened to Olivia Virgiansyah, a 24-year-old SOE employee who at least has been wearing beaded accessories since childhood.
“When it’s trending again in 2021, I explore and buy more beads to make and [that] benefited me, because it gave me things to do at home during the” WFH period, she said.
Bead nostalgia: Olivia Virgiansyah, a long-time fan of beaded accessories, started making her own during WFH under the government’s COVID-19 restrictions. (Courtesy of Olivia Virgiansyah) (Courtesy of Olivia Virgiansyah/Courtesy of Olivia Virgiansyah)
In addition to making people do activities at home, the pandemic has also made the trend of beaded accessories increase due to the increasing demand for mask straps.
Since the trend’s resurgence, Olivia has purchased and made more than 20 beading accessories, including dozens of mask straps, along with necklaces, bracelets and rings.
Mix and match madness
Some might argue that ’90s fashion is a somewhat confusing mix, the culmination of a maelstrom of countless subcultures from previous eras into a decade. From hip hop to punk, grunge and many other subcultures, they all coexist.
What makes things worse – or better, depending on preference – is how the ’90s idea mixes and matches everything, regardless of the item’s original idea.
Olivia often wears a bunch of mismatched beaded bracelets or necklaces, and that’s perfectly fine with the current trend. After all, maximalism, the idea of ”more is more”, is its core identity.
“Beads convey a message from [being] fun and relaxed, which suits my personality,” he said.
The return of the 90s: The red-and-black beaded bag from TAM ILLI is featured in the product photos. The last two years have seen a resurgence of beading accessories. (Courtesy of TAM ILLI) (Courtesy of TAM ILLI/Courtesy of TAM ILLI)
Since most beads are made of plastic, this trend could spark some discussion about its environmental impact. For example, a functionalist point of view would consider how most plastic products are not durable.
However, this is not the case with TAM ILLI products. Local brand designer and founder, Natasha Jasmin Aprilia, aims to address that view and insists it stems from a misunderstanding.
“In my opinion, the beads are strong and have decent durability,” said Natasha. “The idea is to make a product with [strong and durable] easy and convenient beads for [wear].”
In 2019, the fashion brand collaborated with bottled water brand Aqua to campaign for a wiser approach to how people can use plastic.
To bring this point home, TAM ILLI held a workshop on recycling used plastic bottles to make accessories, showing the participants ideas and how to reconstruct and incorporate used plastic bottles into their products.
“The products we made at the event were brooches, necklaces and bags […] some are made from used plastic bottles,” said Natasha.
Recycled crafts: TAM ILLI held a workshop in collaboration with bottled water giant Aqua on crafting accessories from used plastic bottles, such as the decorative items featured here. (Courtesy of Natasha Jasmin Aprilia) (Courtesy of Natasha Jasmin Aprilia/Courtesy of Natasha Jasmin Aprilia)
The beaded accessory gained much wider popularity this decade after global celebrities such as Dua Lipa and Harry Styles were spotted wearing it. The trend even led luxury brands like Bottega Veneta and Balenciaga to follow suit, and local brands soon joined in.
Cosmic Lullaby, which markets its beaded products through an e-commerce platform, is one local business that is benefiting from the complementary trend of healing beads and crystal accessories. Its 25-year-old owner, Triasa Nitorizki, makes his own personalized bracelets and earrings.
Triasa explained that his idea to start Cosmic Lullaby stemmed mainly from his long-standing love of crafts. “I have loved making handicrafts since I can remember. Maybe since I was in elementary school,” he said.
He got his inspiration for Cosmic Lullaby from his fascination with the stars. “Cosmic Lullaby was launched from my love of astronomy and outer space. That’s why the design was inspired by outer space.”
Cosmic Lullaby’s development process began in January 2022 and March marked its opening.
“Considering I only started in March, we only sold about 30 [pieces],” said Triasa, who sells her bracelets and earrings for between Rp. 60,000 (US$4.16) and Rp. 70,000, respectively.
Nod to the stars: Cosmic Lullaby, a fledgling handmade accessories brand, features designs inspired by astronomy, one of the passions of founder Triasa Nitorizki. (Courtesy of Triasa Nitorizki) (Courtesy of Triasa Nitorizki/Courtesy of Triasa Nitorizki)
TAM ILLI, on the other hand, was founded in 2013, long before the pandemic. The brand was originally a side job for Natasha, who was then working in a bank.
“My educational background is architecture, and I have been making handicrafts since I was a child. These two factors are the fuel to grow TAM ILLI,” said the 35-year-old man.
In 2016, he decided to quit his regular job to focus on developing TAM ILLI with his two siblings. Natasha said the brand now sells around 20-50 pieces per month.
“From [its] Established until now, we have sold hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of products. For bags, the average sales are around 20-50 pieces per month,” he said.
The brand only sold beaded necklaces for the first three years but in 2018, developed into a beaded bag, which has now taken over as its best-selling product with prices ranging from IDR 475,000 to IDR 2.65 million.
“Our pricing is based on how everything is handcrafted and takes a lot of time to make,” he said.