Fine. I admit it. I have batik envy. I’m very jealous that Indonesians have this fashion heritage that they can wear on a daily basis, for almost any occasion. The culture highly encourages it, too.
Every Monday, my office requires us to wear batik clothes – a requirement that I’m more than happy to comply with. Like what I said in one of my previous posts, my batik addiction is quite infamous in my circle of friends.
Batik is one of Indonesia’s highly developed art forms. The word was probably derived from the Javanese language: amba (to write) and titik (dot).
Batik is a designed fabric wherein the colors of the textiles are dyed and wax is applied to the parts that are left undyed. Drawings and embellishments are added by hand or by stamping patterns on them.
There are also different kinds of batik. When an Indonesian looks at a batik print, they would know whether it came from Solo, Yogyakarta, Java, Madura and so on.
If you are a foreigner visiting or living in Indonesia, you will definitely come across batik and experience it, as the fabric is used for almost everything: clothes, scarves, bags, slippers, table runners, bed covers, bookmarks, etc. Name it – batik design and fabric are both integrated into Indonesians’ lifestyle and fashion. It’s a pleasing sensory assault, as the multitude of designs can be visually overwhelming.
Indonesians wear batik for almost any occasion: daily wear, office clothes, for cocktails,
weddings and other special events. I tend to do the same thing, although I prefer the modern prints. I even packed my batik pants and dresses and brought them back with me to Manila for the holidays. I wore all my batik culottes and aladdin pants over the Christmas season. It gave me that nice feeling that I will never come across anyone wearing the same thing.
At the same time, most of the Christmas presents I distributed to my Manila friends were made of batik: scarves, bags and wallets. The prints are just too beautiful not to share.
Batik is one of Indonesia’s art and heritage. Indonesians wear and use their batik with pride. The lesson learned here is that they managed to make it mainstream so much so that it’s part of their daily lives.
Yes, jealous, I’m very jealous because how I wish Filipino fabrics and textile are not just used during Miss Universe. I wish Mindanao’s T’nalak and Yakan can be more mainstream and sold as RTWs. I also wish us Pinoys can be more proud of our clothes and heritage and that there’s a local designer who can take it into our department stores or partner with local brands to sell them.
But I’m also very glad that I get to wear my colorful batik garb in the office, at parties and events. Hell yeah, I’m buying some more (much to the chagrin of my househelp who complains that I don’t have enough hangers already!).
Buying batik also helps the local industry. I go to both big brands (which are also local, by the way) and online sellers. For the big brands in malls:
- Bateeq – available in most malls in Jakarta. I usually visit the one in Kuningan City and Plaza Indonesia.
- Batik Keris – available in major Jakarta malls. They have batik clothes, scarves, bags, and home furnishings.
For the online sellers, my favorites include:
- Nan Elok – allows me to customize my colors and my cut. Plus, her pre-orders arrive fast!
- MyBatiq – is reasonably priced with a very friendly seller. She has a lot of variety when it comes to culottes and aladdin pants.
- Batik Amarillis – has quirky designs with a hint of Dutch influence. They don’t have shops in the malls but they have a studio in Tangerang and they have pop-up stores all around Jakarta.
The rest of my everyday wear come from Bellagio Mall and other pop-up markets I frequently visit during the weekend.
This year, I’d like to get to know the batik heritage some more, to the point that I know the difference between a Pekalongan batik and a Palembang batik. I’m sure my Indonesian friends won’t mind teaching me, or better yet, shopping with me for these!
Here are more links about batik as Indonesia’s heritage, its types and variations: