Marvel Studio’s Black Panther has taken the globe by storm for its Afro-centric cast and story, and for spawning an Islamic fashion trend in Indonesia.
Two weeks since its release, the superhero movie has earned over US$700 million globally, making it the fifth-highest grossing Marvel Studios film.
The movie’s main character, T’Challa, is played by AfricanAmerican actor Chadwick Boseman, who in one scene dons a coat with intricate Nigerian-style embroidery designed by two-time Oscar nominated costume designer Ruth E. Carter.
Internet users have been quick to point out similarities between the garment and traditional baju koko, Muslim attire with Chinese origins worn on special occasions and during Friday prayers.
The Black Panther baju koko has become an overnight fashion trend, with online stores and clothing stalls in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta, offering versions of it.
Susi, who sells Muslim clothing in Tanah Abang’s Block F, said recently her initial shipment of two dozen Black Panther-inspired garments from Semarang, Central Java, had sold out in two days.
“I didn’t know it was that popular, I thought they were just regular baju koko until one of the buyers mentioned the movie,” said Susi, adding that she had not seen it.
Doni, another seller in the market, said buyers who frequented his shop were not necessarily movie fans.
“I had one lady who came yesterday looking for the clothing. She didn’t know the movie, but she said her husband liked the embroidery pattern after seeing a picture of it on the internet,” said Doni, noting that the price for the design ranged from Rp 150,000 ($10.96) to Rp 300,000, depending on the fabric and style.
Sellers on major e-commerce sites such as Bukalapak and Tokopedia have been posting scenes from the movie to attract buyers. Online prices for the design range from Rp 300,000 to Rp 500,000.
Agus, an office boy at a private company, said he purchased one such garment from an online seller after seeing the movie.
“I went to see the movie on the weekend after my friends told me the main character wore baju koko, and then I bought it online because it looked cool,” said Agus, adding that he paid Rp 300,000 for the clothing.
A sample of the clothing obtained in Tanah Abang by The Jakarta Post shows that the garment is indeed similar superficially to the one in the movie.
The baju koko, which is embroidered along the neckline, center front and sleeves, is made out of a polyester-blend, different to Black Panther baju koko in pure cotton, which fetches a higher price.
The similarities end there, as the straight-fit silhouette, while ideal in hiding a beer belly, is a far cry from the fitted garment wrapped around Boseman’s athletic figure.
It is unclear whether the garments on sale are sanctioned by Marvel, as a large number of online independent sellers are advertising their products through screenshots from the movie without pictures of the actual product.
Under Law No. 28/2014 on copyrights, clothing designs are not a protected form of artwork. Likewise, in the US where The Walt Disney Company and its subsidiary Marvel Studios are based, fashion designs are not protected under the 1976 Copyright Act.