The Yak goes one on one with…
…Franklin Firdaus – socialite, social media maven, a charming man-about-town who runs a sought-after, international, men’s fashion line – The Franksland!
Well, hola – Franklin. “Label” the last year and a half in five words…
- C**t (No offence meant)
Indeed! Now, not everyone will know your back-story, so could you let us know where you were:
At seven years old, and can you remember what you wanted to do, or be, when you grew up?
At seven I already knew what I wanted. I hated my school uniforms and wanted to work in magazines. My imagination was running wild and it was the thing I relied on the most. I was born into a family with seven other siblings in Kalimantan. I felt privileged for having been raised by parents who themselves had never completed their schooling, but were still able to provide me with the best opportunity and upbringing they possibly could. My parents had always given me the liberty to choose any academic or professional path that I felt was most suitable to me or that made happiest.
At 18 years old, where were you, and same as above, what did you want to do career-wise?
At the age of 18 I was already working for a Swedish automotive company and had university classes in the evening for my business management diploma in Kalimantan. My daily schedule was from 7 in the morning ‘til 5 in the afternoon, and then I would continue my day with evening classes from 5 ‘til 10 in the evening. I used to dream of being a VJ for MTV, but at the time I felt like I was stuck in the vicious cycle of corporate life. As an 18 year-old boy, I used to see those VJs on MTV having so much fun and that provided respite from the wrong path that I had chosen in my life.
And at 24 years old?
I was transitioning from being a data analyst for an American oil and gas company to working in IT for satellites and fiber optics, which was a new field for me. The pay was good, but I still could not find what I was looking for. I did not feel like I was trapped because I was still enjoying the process, but I could not find the pathway that could lead me to fashion, which was what I wanted to pursue in that particular moment in time.
Now, at just over 30 is it? 😉
I stopped counting my age at 28 and I now consider myself to be forever 28!! (Quote: Age is but a number and a jail is but a room). I had finally landed into FRANKSLAND. My very own island.
Tell us a bit more about your fabulous men’s line – FRANKSLAND.
FRANKSLAND began in 2002 in Kalimantan. I was laying the foundation by myself whilst doing an internship at Volvo at the time. I started with jewellery and t-shirts. My first pop-up was for Novotel and was immediately sold out. My sister was the first to model my clothes and my best friend was the photographer. I was a on a budget and they still turned out looking great until today!
In order to further expand the brand, I decided to move to Jakarta. At the time the market behaviour in Jakarta was fixated on global brands and fast fashion, so I decided to pull out of Jakarta and move my brand to Bangkok. I got help from my brother, who decided to do the production.
I have always realised that FRANKSLAND, as the name suggests, is better suited to be based on an island and not within cities. I missed the sun, the ocean breeze and the saltiness of the ocean water on my hair. So, Bali it was.
FRANKSLAND, is an alternative fashion and lifestyle brand aimed to cater to trendy fashionistas. Reflecting on the challenges of today’s fashion-conscious consumer, we set about creating a clothing line that provides a stylish silhouette with all the eye-catching simplicity, quality and modernity of forward-looking trend fabrications. Each piece designed by the creative team brings its own signature flair and sense of confidence to people who believe that ‘identity is key’. Inspired by Bali and Indonesia’s vibrant atmosphere, with a focus that lies on luxury resort essentials. Infused with concepts of elegance and playfulness, FRANKSLAND’s alternative fashion concept aims for limited products with a wide range within the collection.
Are there any famous bodies wearing Franksland?
Loads! From esteemed Indonesian clientele to Hollywood celebrities, FRANKSLAND has dressed many famous bodies.
You also created signature fragrances?
Yes. We started our fragrance in 2011 with the Elements series: Earth, Wind, Fire and Water. We only sold 5 bottles per year because the market was not ready for it. I felt like I was two steps ahead of everyone else, so nobody understood it. The desire within the market was still for global designer fragrance brands, so I decided to give away the stock to family and friends. So in the end, I learned that the lesson is all about right timing.
In 2013 my fragrance line made a massive comeback with the Island series: Borneo, Flores, Sumba and Lombok. The Borneo series was truly the one that opened the gateway to FRANKSLAND’s future in fragrance. Inspired by the rainforests of Borneo, the scent evokes a certain type of persona. It is the most elegant and sophisticated one out of the four.
What else does the Franksland brand cover?
FRANKSLAND mainly covers fashion and lifestyle. With fashion, we focus on clothing and luxury uniforms. With the lifestyle side of things, we focus on public relations, social media and digital strategy.
You’re addicted to travel. How many countries have you visited, and where have you not yet been?
Banyak! I am not done yet with exploring Indonesia. I have been wanting to explore Rote Island. Internationally, I have been wanting to explore Portugal, Leipzig and Reykjavík.
What are your other passions?
The Arts. I love how artworks are able to capture and evoke the emotion, which therefore allows me to transcend into the realm that they are portraying. Collecting traditional textiles is also another one of my passions. I am obsessed by the craftsmanship, the philosophy and the energy behind each of them. This is why I am currently working on WHOAFRANK.com. It is an online platform where fashion meets art, where artists can reach bigger audiences.
What are your ‘pet hates’?
Mediocrity. Parental and societal expectations growing up are a hindrance to one’s ability in personal and professional development. Our personal circumstances in life should not be a limiting factor to thriving in life. Normalcy gets you nowhere. I have experienced it myself in my youth, therefore I am able to speak from experience.
How was 2020 for you?
Miss Rona slapped me hard, and not in a good way. It was a pivotal moment for my business, but I was able to adapt quickly. FRANKSLAND started doing more things digitally. I understood that we were a niche market, and that the niche was shrinking. So, I created a new market with new products that are more accessible.
And how has 2021 been so far?
I have accepted the unwelcome guest who is Miss Rona by coexisting with her.
I started focusing more on my spiritual life by having gratitude for what I have. I felt more connected to the universe by learning how to control my mind and my inner peace. I started focusing on the things I have control over. At the end of the day, I am the creator of my own life.
‘Give up’ or ‘pivot’ during this challenging, seemingly never-ending C19 session. Which did you choose?
Pivot. Acceptance, adapt and keep fighting. I do not want to watch my ship sinking when I am the captain. I will keep the ship afloat, even if it means changing course. Even if RMS Titanic hits an iceberg, I will take full responsibility and guide the ship to safety. It is not the richest or the most persevering person that manages to overcome this arduous time, but it is rather the most creative one.
Where is that choice leading you and your brand?
Going digital and having accessible products has allowed FRANKSLAND to gain more visibility by reaching a bigger and wider audience within a single click. That in turn helped us to cut costs as well. Although, frankly, I do prefer doing things in the “classic” way, which is to mean, going to the shop as well as trying out and feeling the fabrics. It is the same thing as preferring to read magazines in their physical format rather than in their digital one. I love being able to enjoy that tactile feeling. When things have gone back to “normal”, I would like to combine the physical and the digital, and therefore turn it into a hybrid shopping experience for our customers.
Are you excited for the future? What are you up to in the next few weeks?
Of course I am excited. There is always good in the future. I consider myself as an optimist. I think that being positive in a negative situation is not naïve. It is leadership.
FRANKSLAND has an S/S22 fashion show coming up on the 16th of October 2021, themed the Secret Garden, and being held at the brand new KINGSWAY. It is going to be a charity event in order to raise money to give back to our island, Bali.
Yes, Decadent and bursting with old-school British charm, KINGSWAY couples elegant selections of Eastern European cuisine with an Asian twist, along with a high-end playground aesthetic – perfect for those who have been craving different experiences under one roof: fine dining, elite cigar lounge, exclusive dart and pool space and a prestigious party spot.
Is your Fashion Show Secret Garden strictly invitation only – how can we get on the guest list?
Yes, it is, due to the limited capacity, however everyone is welcome to join us for the After-party.
Where do you see Bali in a year or two from now?
Things will skyrocket. It will be better and stronger than how it was before the pandemic. Bali is a brand. She is the face of the nation amongst the other 17,000 islands. There is no other place quite like Bali on this planet. She is incredibly unique. From the culture, the people and the landscape, not to mention the numerous accolades that Bali has been given, it will forever be everyone’s favourite destination. Bali is a bucket list destination to tick off within everyone’s lifetime. Bali is home. She chooses you. The island never says ‘welcome back’, but says ‘welcome home’ to everyone.
Lastly, name your favourite international fashion brands and designers?
Dries van Noten, Martin Margiela, Yves Saint Laurent, Victoria Beckham, Tom Ford and COS.
And, closer to home, which are you go-to restaurants here in Bali?
Izakaya by OKU at The Apurva Kempinski Bali, Soona in Canggu for light bites and cocktails and, the best Indonesian warung, Teh Manis Bali in Canggu owned by my friend Tamara.
Thank you for you time Franklin and see you at your next event.
Yes, at my fashion show Secret Garden at the KINGSWAY on the 16th of October…
Jln. Kayu Jati A3 Oberoi, 80361, Bali