Transforming batik into modern fashion pieces

Transforming batik into modern fashion pieces
Batik is making a comeback with a more modern aesthetic.
PHOTO: The Star/ANN

A fabric traditionally worn back in the day with the kebaya and deemed rather formal, batik had slowly faded into the background as silks and satins were introduced.

Inspired by vintage photos of her Indonesian mother and the regal beauty of her formal batik wear, Noorul-Hudaa Abdul-Rahman decided to bring back the fabric and this time, infusing a more modern aesthetic to it.

With that, Batika, a one-stop online store for apparels made out of batik was founded in 2012.

The fashion label focuses on wearables made out of various batiks and does not limit itself to traditional wear only as it also offers modern apparels.

Drawing her sense of authentic tradition for batik from her Indonesian mother, who instilled herculean standards of great batik in her, Hudaa came across a photo of her wearing a kebaya top and batik skirt folded in front with pleats (Javanese call it Wiron).

It was this very discovery that sparked her love for batik and her search for unique batik prints and designs.

"How do I transform only the finest batik textiles into gorgeous wearables anchored in authenticity, mirroring our heritage for the world to see?" Hudaa said of the question she asked herself as she wondered how to juxtapose traditional art in this modern world of high-fashion.

In the end, it seems respectfully is how she did it, as she shares that Batika is an establishment that is concerned with only one thing, and that is the intricacies and quality of batik creation.

"I carefully select and procure the batik from all over Indonesia myself, hand-picking the motifs and working with different vendors to match the different colours and themes."

Looking through the website, it is clear to see that Batika's batiks are more bright, vibrant and suitable for a wide range of ages and cultures with a pencil cut long skirt with front pleating being the main piece.

"Batika's specialty is the pleated skirt or kain kipas and it took me several attempts over the course of almost two years to figure out the right cut and sizing suitable for a majority of my customers. I believe I can safely say that Batika is well known for its kain kipas cutting," said Hudaa.

Despite the design challenges faced, she says it was the demand for her designs that was the tough part.

"A lot of fashion nowadays are mass made. Batik, on the other hand, is produced in exclusive amounts. Educating the public that there are limited yards of each design of batik can result in frustration as my stock sells out really fast," she explained.

Apart from the "kain kipas", Batika also produces modern styled tops as well as hand-made Nyonya kebaya, there is even a custom tailoring option for customers to make whatever that want with the batik.

Hudaa herself intermingles the traditional with the modern through instilling an element of tradition in her daily wear, be it a traditional accessory or a modern batik top paired with jeans.

Looking forward, Hudaa says she is dreaming big things for Batika envisioning menswear, childrens wear and homewares in the next five years.

With the motto "Batik Semarak Kembali" (batik is making a comback), her ultimate vision is to open her own batik factory.

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