Indonesia’s ancient art form gets a modern kick these days with innovative designers leading the batik revival
Sometimes we like to keep it traditional, even when it comes to fashion. Living in a cultural mecca like Singapore, we’re lucky to have our cheongsams, sarees, and also batik to be proud of. Batik is full of history – this ancient hand-dyeing technique from Java, Indonesia uses wax to map out intricate designs. Batik motifs themselves hold significant meaning – from the parang which symbolises war and victory, to the kawung which represents wisdom and power.
These days, thanks to a new generation of designers, batik has been given a fresh transformation with modern cuts and elegant designs that can be worn by anyone and anytime. Here are some of our faves…
Chic, classy and oh, so easy to match – that’s exactly what we thought when we first saw the designs from local label, Ozel. The brand seamlessly fuses the traditional batik and songket designs with an edgy modern ensemble for both genders. If that’s the look you’re going for, step right in to get a wardrobe upgrade. We’re all for the Ozel basic collection which highlights peplums, pinafores, high waisted skirts and cardigans with a batik twist. Sizes go up to three XL so full-figured ladies can join in the fun!
Ozel, 729, North Bridge Road, Singapore 198697
From wrap skirts and kebaya tops for ladies to sauve batik shirts for guys, Think Batik has all the versatile pieces you need to infuse traditional batik prints to your everyday looks. They do not have an online store so drop a message on their social pages or keep a lookout for pop-ups if you rather touch and feel the pieces.
Think Batik, available online
For uber cute matchy outfits for the whole fambam, Batique is your go-to. The new collection has over 20 new designs for everyone. Rock those sarong wraps and kebayas or dress the young ones in adorable batik shirts. Sizes go up to double XL for ladies and eight XL for gents. Batique will be having a booth at the Geylang Ramadan bazaar from 5 May to 4 June so shop away!
Batique, 14 New Industrial Road #05-01B Singapore 536203 and online
We’re all for a conscious label so when we heard about Gypsied’s lovely cause we were smitten. Gypsied works closely with textile artisans and cooperatives and expert craftsmen to bring you conscious pieces with a story. If a maxi dress or jumpsuit is too ‘out there’ for you, ease your way into batik with a bag or clutch for starters. Alternatively, you can extend it to your home with a gorgeous cushion cover.
Gypsied, available online
First of all, how adorable is this mother-daughter duo? If you aren’t already following this lovely brand on Insta, get to it now. Mama Yeo and Desleen are behind this label, which is all about handmade batik designs spanning tops, dresses, the cutest jumpsuits and even dungarees. Sizes go from UK 6 to UK 18 including options for the guys and kiddos. We just had to drop by their boutique to try some pieces on and trust us, you might suffer from choice paralysis.
YeoMama Batik, The Promenade @ Pelikat, 183 Jalan Pelikat B1-73 Singapore 537643
Specialising in authentic Indonesian batik, Wellie Batik has traditional shirts, fabric, sarongs and assorted home-y things like cushion covers, tablecloths and aprons. They’ve been in the business for over 40 years so you can bet that they really know their batik.
Wellie Batik, 211 Holland Ave Holland Road Shopping Centre, #03-18, Singapore 278967
A play on the word ‘harta karun’ meaning treasure in Bahasa and Malay, you’ll find a lot of interesting pieces here from wrap skirts, pants and even bags – all in batik. Keep a lookout for them at the So Gelam market!
Heartakarun, available online and selected pop-ups
This brand is all about Batik with a French twist: you’ll find none of the traditional cuts in this store. Find jumpsuits, summery dresses and knot twist tops suitable for the Singapore weather. French-Chinese founder Emmanuelle Chiau says that Vespertine is her way of expressing her Eurasianic roots.
Local designer Ong Shunmugam creates pieces that are a vibrant mix of prints and fabrics inspired by different ethnicities and cultures. Along the way, she always retains a modern aesthetic and her signature meticulous tailoring. Despite mixing fabrics around over the years, her Hari Raya collection is where batik takes centrestage.
Ong Shunmugam, 43 Jalan Merah Saga, 01-76, Singapore 278115 (by appointment only)
Baju by Oniatta
Created by a full-time educator and mother, Baju by Oniatta is driven by Oniatta Effendi’s love for batik and seeing it being embraced in contemporary fashion. Her signature pants are made from quality batik sourced from different parts of Indonesia and the beauty of it is its versatility – you can wear it formal with a kebaya top or go casual and match it with a t-shirt. No two pairs are the same, you’ll be wearing something one of a kind! Besides pants, she also has shirt dresses, skirts, blouses and even the batik fabric itself – so you do your own thing with it!
Baju by Oniatta, online and limited pieces at En Pointe & Co., 735 North Bridge Rd, Singapore 198703
Little Nyonya Batik
Unlike the other places giving batik a modern twist, Little Nyonya Batik keeps it old-school. Celebrating the Peranakan culture, this designer offers authentic and traditional pieces here – from pretty embroidered kebaya tops to vibrant-coloured batik fabric to pair it with.
Little Nyonya Batik, online
The brand is an advocate for socially-conscious clothing and champions the value of knowing where and why something is made. While most of their prints are ethnic, their capsule collection, #matterwraps, uses modern adaptations of traditional batik motifs. Matter also works with textile artisans around the world to produce the fabric for their products, and aims to connect the stories of the makers with the values of the wearer. Poetic, much?
MATTER, available at various locations including Kapok, Zhai, Nana & Bird and The Green Collective
Batika by Hudaa
Batika’s specialty is the traditional Indonesian batik pleated skirt, which Malaysian designer, Hudaa, took almost two years to perfect. She also sources her fabric from Indonesia and sticks with more vibrant colours for a wide range of ages, which she then tailors to give a pencil-cut silhouette with front pleating.
Batika by Hudaa, available online
Amanda Hartanto Batik
With styles for every woman, Amanda Hartanto’s pieces are edgy and fashion-forward, but you can also find feminine and dreamy silhouettes in her collection. One thing it doesn’t shy away from is the traditional prints which she utilises proudly.
Amanda Hartanto Batik, available online. Shipping fees apply.
Using traditional prints in muted, natural and even on-trend pastel colours, you’ll find the pieces from Warangka surprisingly easy to wear. By sampling batik into modern daily wear, you’ll find something for a casual drinks night and even the workplace.
Warangka Batik, available online. Shipping fees apply.