Fashion brand Happa delves into Minangkabau literature and culture

Indonesian fashion brand Happa is a fun and fabulous brand whose underlying mission is to support traditional Indonesian textile workers, the majority of whom are struggling, and also to create a positive space for women for women of all sizes, shapes and ages.

Founded by Mel Ahyar and Andien Aisyah, Happa is part of the slow fashion movement; garments are made to order and take approximately five working days to handcraft in Happa’s ethically run factories.

Although there is a certain ethnic vibe, particularly in the brand’s lookbook shoots, the designs are comfortably modern, rendered in vibrant tones with artistic details created using various traditional crafts and techniques.

As part of the brand’s mission, “Happa Lyfe” is both a loyalty program and a social media hashtag that connects the brand’s vast community in Indonesia and abroad.

Modest but definitely not boring

Being based in Indonesia – a predominantly Muslim country – there is a certain level of modesty in the garments that makes them suitable to be worn by hijabi women, while also offering pieces that can be worn in less modest ways. Happa’s inclusive mission fits into the space of creating clothing for all women, which includes prayer-appropriate cultural pieces like the ‘mukena’ redone in bright colors and prints.

Overall, the cuts are forgiving, but also fluid in nature. It is the colors, patterns and additional decorative details that not only give the brand its own style, but also create the signature “Happa” style.

The brand’s latest collection is inspired by the famous novel Sitti Nurbaya: Kasih Tak Sampai or ‘Sitti Nurbaya: Love Doesn’t Come’ by Marah Rusli. The designers say the novel “really touched them with the main character’s kindness and love for Samsul Bahri, as well as his intelligence, strength and sacrifice”.

Sitti Nurbaya and Samsul Bahri exchange elegant poems while apart, talking about their love and the beauty of nature around them. The romantic couple’s words were translated into lush, deep-colored fabrics that mix checks – traditionally worn by men – with nature prints more often worn by women.

Influenced by the origin of the novel Sitti Nurbaya, the designers also turned to the traditional clothing and textile crafts of the Minangkabau, or Minang. Interestingly, the Minangkabau people remain the largest matrilineal society in the world – all property, land and family name pass from mother to daughter. The males of the family generally manage the religious and political aspects of the company, although some females are also involved in these areas.

Traditional Minangkabau embroidery designs have been incorporated into a number of pieces from the Sitti Nurbaya collection, including dresses, tops and trousers, and combined with bright pops of bright pink, bright yellow and red.

“The beautiful and educated Minang, Siti Nurbaya. May your heart always be soft, your steps always firm and your eyes always sparkling,” say the creators of Happa. “Nurbaya, may your path be always shaded by love and kindness, may your steps be strengthened, may your shoulders be strengthened.”

You can buy Happa online at and follow the brand on Instagram at @happaofficial.

Discover more interesting Asian fashion brands and designers in our Style section.

About Adam Gray

Check Also

Hierarchical network analysis of co-occurring bioentities in the literature

ChexMix was designed for the extraction of hierarchical and topological information related to bioentities. Therefore, …