Catwalks and sidewalks have both witnessed the revival of batik in the past year. Now, everybody seems to love it and be proud to wear it.
Whether it's for real batik or just fabric printed with batik patterns, batik fever just isn't going away. And with its ongoing popularity, batik is evolving, with new trends in contemporary patterns and colors.
Batik producer Lenny from Garut, West Java, for example, reveals the modified bulu hayam (chicken feathers) and kepet (hand-fan) patterns that are shrunken into smaller sizes than the traditional ones.
"The bulu hayam and kepet patterns are supposed to be bigger than these," says Lenny of Ralisha Putra Garut batik house, showing her modified batik.
"We've shrunken them following requests from our customers. They say, *The motifs are way too big. I don't want to look fat because of this batik'," she laughs.
After receiving other feedback from her customers, Lenny redesigned her batik to suit their tastes. She later added another new twist in her batik Garut using the motif contoh (examples of motifs) pattern, which combines various motifs in one cloth. The cloth shows motifs such as fish, flowers, geometrical patterns and parang (long machete) drawn in separate squares, with the name of each motif written under each square.
The purpose of this pattern?
"So that people can learn about our traditional patterns from just one cloth," she says at her booth during the 2009 Gelar Batik Nusantara exhibition in Jakarta.
Another batik producer, Amin from Madura, East Java, shows a new type of Madura batik with contemporary geometrical patterns combined with traditional patterns. The new batik also comes in brighter colors never seen before.
"We started to develop the patterns and colors after joining several batik exhibitions," Amin of Mutiara Pamekasan batik house says. "From there, we began to understand our customers' taste. They wanted this kind of Madura batik."
Amin does not feel bound by tradition, but he freely designs his batik in whatever motifs he wants. He does have one rule, however: His batik must always be in bright colors. Even if black is dominant, it must be combined with bright colors.
"Madura batik is known for its distinctive colors," Amin says. "I want to preserve this character, although sometimes I play with brighter colors."
Another new trend in batik is organic batik, which uses of natural dyes and fibers made from fruit peels and teakwood fibers. Unlike common batik with its strong colors, organic batik comes in soft and pale colors, like baby blue, soft pink, peach and faded brown. The colors, although not eye-catching, are distinctive and calming.
Galeri Batik Jawa from Yogyakarta one of the batik producers that started to promote this eco-friendly batik. The batik house produces the beautiful indigo batik made using the natural dye from the Indigofera tinctoria plant.
"Our concern is that batik industry has to be less pollutant," says Mayasari Sekarlaranti, or Nita, of Galeri Batik Jawa. "Therefore, we want to introduce this indigo batik to the public as eco-friendly batik."
Nita says indigo batik embraces different traditional motifs in Java, from the famous parang and kawung to animal motifs such as birds and sea creatures. If there are any new patterns in indigo batik, Nita says, it's the butterfly motif, which comes from their batik makers in Imogiri village, Yogyakarta.
"Butterfly motif can fit well with other traditional motifs," Nita says. "Besides, it's one animal that's known by all cultures, universally."
This batik house maintains the composition of traditional patterns in its jarik (sarong), but has made some changes to its shawls.
"Because shawls are smaller, we changed the composition a bit to adjust *with the size*, like adding decorative border lines around it," Nita says.
- JP/Dian Kuswandini