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Designer Vandalism: Indonesian Indie Fashion and the Cultural Practice of Cut 'n’ Paste



Indonesian independent clothing labels like 347, Triggers Syndicate, and Monik/Celtic routinely appropriate their designs from the vaults of international popular culture. They remix corporate logos, rework the album covers of foreign rock bands, and sample a variety of icons and images from an expansive repertoire of digital material. This is not piracy, such designers insist. Pirates copy their material as closely as they can, whereas these labels fundamentally alter what they reproduce. And it is not “culture jamming” or anticommercial resistance either. These indie labels tend to take from bands and brands they themselves consume or desire. Instead, this article argues, indie designers use cut 'n’ paste design techniques to stake claim on the visual attributes of transnational capitalism. Retooling the classic structuralist concept of bricolage, the author analyzes the aesthetic practices of Indonesian indie clothing designers as a medium for global repositioning, a strategy for middle-class youth to demarginalize, deterritorialize, and assert themselves into the world economy “on their own terms,” as a new generation of Indonesian youth no longer content to stand on the sidelines as cultural production happens elsewhere.