Batik is a traditional Indonesian dyeing technique that utilizes a wax-resist dye to create elaborate and vibrant material. “Historically, Batik was subject to a high degree of formality and symbolism, and the designation of batik by UNESCO in 2009 as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity now obliges the Indonesian government to preserve its original forms.” (McDowell 2013 p.41)
(Indonesian Batik UNESCO 2008)
Indonesian fashion designer Iwan Titra has often been credited with the revival of batik into contemporary fashion design. During the 1970s and 1980s Iwan began his career in fashion design, producing his first collections with traditional batik cloth. In the decades following, batik entered the mainstream fashion market and served as an inspiration for many European fashion designers.
The popularity of batik in the last decade has resulted in a rapid growth of the industry within Indonesia and in many cities batik is one of the largest manufacturing activities. However, “its flourishing trade has come at a price.” (Clean Batik Initiative 2010) The growth in the production of batik has resulted in many questionable manufacturing processes, “Batik production is one of the heaviest polluters in the country… The sector is characterized by inefficiency, a poor environmental record and lacks law enforcement and sensitive consumer behaviour.” (Andrea Booth 2010)
The ‘Clean Batik Initiative’, which operated from 2010 until 2013, was a design group attempting to “help produce batik in a sustainable manner, by minimizing the negative effects the batik industry has on the environment.” (Andrea Booth 2010) In the four years the initiative operated, the design group successfully achieved local awareness of the environmental impacts of batik whilst also creating a space for environmentally conscious consumers in Indonesia and the rest of the world to purchase ethically produced batik.
(Indonesian Batik UNESCO 2008)
Conducting primary research on the subject of batik, I interviewed my cousin on his personal attitude towards batik and what he observed during his time living in Indonesia. Richard Hunter, was born and raised in Jakarta before commencing his high school education in Australia.
What is it about Batik that you like
It’s the patterns of batik that I really like. The patterns aren’t so much repetitive but they have meaning. The colours are nice too. They aren’t bright colours. The colours are the mellow and rustic shades of the main colours.
When you lived in Indonesia were you aware of its popularity?
When I went to school I learned how to make batik. It’s very popular in Indonesia. Every Friday the office workers don’t wear suits to work but they wear a collared batik shirt. So pretty much everyone who grew up in Indonesia has some sort of batik attire.
Does Batik hold any cultural significance for you?
Batik does have cultural significance for me because it means home and that is the only time when I get to see batik.
McDowell, C. 2013, The Anatomy of Fashion, Phaidon Press Limited, New York
Clean Batik Initiative, 2010, Background, Viewed 30th April 2015 <http://www.cleanbatik.com/>
Andrea Booth 2010, Aiming for clean, green batik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, Viewed 30th April 2015 <http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/03/11/aiming-clean-green-batik.html>