“What is AOD? Sometimes it’s clothes, sometimes it’s exhibitions… it’s only a space, and a creative studio,” the 25-year-old says.
Julian has avoided boredom all his life. After growing up in Bogor, he changed schools several times, whenever possible.
“Like in kindergarten, three times. In elementary school, it was twice… every time my parents offered me a chance to change, I accepted… I made a lot of friends!”
In 2003, Julian moved to Sydney to study business at university, on the advice of his mother, a successful and independent businesswoman. Although he “needs to know everything”, he found the degree tedious, but completed it anyway, playing guitar in a hardcore band in his spare time.
After university, he decided to apply his business skills to selling T-shirts a friend designed, which he funded with his “lunch money”.
“I didn’t know anything about fashion. I wanted to keep learning, explore something I didn’t know.”
The “rock-and-roll”, youth-orientated T-shirts, which he branded “Notorious”, were well received.
“I made A$1,400 a day. I went to each house with a bag and offered them products,” he says.
Although Julian loved Sydney, he returned to Indonesia in 2008, as “your home country is always a better fit” and he prefers communicating in Indonesian.
Building on his budding fashion empire, he added two more youth brands, Proud Parents for women, and Bizarre, which is unisex.
Opening a traditional retail store crossed his mind, but the restless entrepreneur felt that would be “monotonous”, so he came up with AOD, which would be a “pop-up” clothes store several times a year and a creative space the rest of the time, freeing him to implement whatever ideas struck his fancy.
Since AOD’s soft launch in 2008, the space has seen five fashion collections, and hosted several art and music events to support the local community, all of which have been met with enthusiasm.
These events included last year’s “We’re All Millionaires” exhibition, curated by C&C Projects in 2009 – offering contemporary artworks for Rp 1 million each while poking fun at the term “millionaire” and the elitism of art ownership.
In November 2009, again with C&C Projects, AOD hosted a playful exhibition for legendary Indonesian artist Teguh Ostenrik.
Most recently, throughout February, the space was transformed into AOD Records, a temporary record store that gave music fans the chance to sample 40 up-and-coming artists across genres, and buy associated merchandise. Free gigs were scheduled every Saturday from popular bands like Naif, SORE and Funny Little Dream.
“People came everyday. It was very tiring. I was kind of glad when it was over. But it was worth it. People said *wow’, it was really great for the bands,” Julian says.
“The customers tried other music, out of their comfort zones. We see that as a success.”
Julian supports the local community because it puts pressure on him to deliver and builds the AOD brand.
“We made a loss of AOD records, but that’s OK, because it’s good for the brand, it brought new people to AOD.”
Currently, AOD are working on a fashion-music collaboration, in which Naif and SORE will respectively act as brand ambassadors for the new collections of Bizarre and Notorious, with a small album launch at the AOD space.
Julian admits he roped Naif in through unorthodox methods.
“We sneaked backstage *at their concert* and gave them our clothes and they liked it!”
To further promote the new fashion collections, including Proud Parents, AOD is making short videos in with visual artists Joey Christian and Heru W. Atmaja, who have produced videos for Dewi Sandra. The two-to-four-minute films will be posted on YouTube and displayed at the upcoming Brightspot Market, between March 11-14 at Pacific Place.
After this project, another “We’re All Millionaires” exhibition is the works, as is an art-fashion collaboration with an artist he met at December’s Brightspot.
With all these plans bubbling away, one wonders if Julian ever gets a chance to relax.
“To save money, I bought all the console games, and play them in my room… if I have a holiday I’d spend a lot of money going everywhere,” he says.
Still even playing games is a form of work.
“I never work in a studio. If I’m in the office, that means I’m browsing, not working. If I’m in my room playing games, I’m working. I play a football game that I don’t really need to concentrate on, my mind is on other things, and if I come up with an idea, I just run to the studio.”
Julian says his fear of boredom and “hard-to-please” attitude has helped AOD, even if it often proves time-consuming, describing how he spent three weeks searching for the right fabric for a jacket in the new collection.
“I’m not good at making something, but I’m good at making things more interesting, because I’m easily bored,” he says, explaining how he works with his designers on concepts.
“Like clothes, if I don’t wear it I’m not going to sell it. If I come to an art show, what kind of art do I want to see?”
Friends, four of whom work at AOD, have also been invaluable.
“They’re the most creative people, so they help me to improve the concepts,” he says.
Julian notes he hasn’t always gotten it right, as in the case of a jacket priced at Rp 1.9 million, which didn’t sell.
“It’s probably because of buying power. *Jakartans* cannot experiment because if they spend money on something they don’t know, they might regret it.”
The company learned from its mistakes, these days items cost between Rp 150,000 and Rp 500,000. But Julian would prefer to make mistakes than play it safe.
“We’re still young, we make mistakes. I don’t want regrets when I’m 60 that I didn’t do something.”
AOD is set for expansion, with the upcoming collection being sold in Bandung and Bali, as well as overseas on-demand.
“We are accepting orders for this collection until June, only from the overseas market,” he says, adding to help generate international interest, he sent clothes to a London-based fashion blogger.
Julian will continue exploring the unknown, maybe dabbling with technology by holding a robot competition, and venturing into food and jewelry.
“AOD is like a platform for me. I can always do something different, so I can probably do it for the rest of my life.”