Rafi Ridwan is a 12-year-old fashion design prodigy. Though Rafi has had difficulties in hearing and conversing since birth, he has vowed to prove to the world that his disability is not a limitation to his passion for fashion. Equipped with only color pencils, drawing paper, and his dreams, Rafi started drawing designs when he was only 9 years old and without any formal education in fashion design.
Fashion design is Rafi’s channel to communicate with the world. Favoring a visual language that speaks universally, he uses combinations of colors in place of words, and incorporates complex details such as embroidery and accents into each design at a level beyond his age. Proud of his heritage, Rafi emphasizes on combining the ethnic beauty of Indonesian textiles such as batik, songket, tenun, and ikat, with modern styles of cutting that incorporate geometrical shapes, color blocking and asymmetric trims. His designs have been featured in America’s Next Top Model, Jakarta Fashion Week, and Festival Indonesia in Melbourne.
Rafi and his atelier of hearing impaired artisans’ greatest desire is to share their creations to the global audience, as living proof that their dreams are unstoppable even by their physical limitations. They hope that their perseverance, hard work, and imagination will continue to inspire others to pursue their dreams as well.