Fashion

We Met The Label Behind Those Stüssy Susanti Shirts

Kamengski founder Sulaiman Said talks about copyright infringement and why he doesn't care about success.

by Ezra Natalia
26 February 2017, 3:15am

All photos by author.

Sulaiman Said, the man behind art-fashion label Kamengski, doesn't take life seriously.

Emblazoned across his Instagram account, which has 73.9k followers, is the tagline "IN FUN WE TRUST," an attitude reflected in the playful mash up of Indonesian pop-culture references and international iconography that define Kamengski's clothing lines.

Recently, his Stüssy Susanti T-shirts (a clash of the Stüssy logo with Indonesian badminton legend Susi Susanti) were a hit and sold out in two days.

Essentially, if it's a laugh, then it's good, according to Said, and the same goes for most aspects of running his business.

Stussy Susanti is a parody of legendary badminton player from Indonesia.

He jokes about the prospect of being sued for rights infringement by any of the companies whose brand logos he borrows. He claims indifference whether his work sells or not. And even the brand's name was arbitrarily coined from the nickname of one of the seniors at his college, the Jakarta Art Institute, simply because he happened to be passing by.

Despite being heavily reliant on Instagram for marketing, he doesn't lose sleep over his social media strategy either.

"I never waste my budget on marketing gimmicks. I just need to give Kamengski to the people who believe in my work and let them do the rest. Word spreads from mouth to mouth, they'll willingly take photos and share it on their social media," he says.

And the nonchalance seems to be working for him. Indonesian bands like Superglad, Black teeth, The Adams and Rumah Sakit were queuing up to be featured in his work. Vendors trust him enough to supply upfront so that he can pay after he sells. He said he made $15,000 last year off the brand.

Kamengski in his workshop

While "FUN" might be Said's shtick, clearly there's some work going on somewhere behind the scenes. When you talk to him further it seems a more assiduous character lies behind his displays of insouciance and he has wisdom to share with would-be entrepreneurs who are starting out in Jakarta.

He says many young businessmen see huge sums coming into their bank account and it goes to their heads.

"They go out and celebrate, thinking they're rich, but then later they don't have enough money to pay the vendor," he says. "It all feels empty after that."

According to him, it's a fate that has bankrupted many retail players around Jakarta and Bandung. By contrast, Said says the only time he ever borrowed money was to buy a direct to garment printer, so he can print shirts in his office, which now sits in a corner of the room because he's "too lazy to sell it."

It's no big deal because with consistent business, he's no longer in debt.

"That's the reason I'm chill," he says.

Looking ahead this year Said is working on a few fresh design collaborations, some iconic designs to boost sales, and he's even looking to set up his own design agency. Kamengski will also participate in the Design Festa, an art and design event in Tokyo held from May 27-28.

But he says he's not going to market his stuff at the festival. He's just looking forward to major shopping splurge in Japan.