The Jakarta Post
In today's fast-paced fashion world, batik ingeniously establishes its own styles to preserve its distinctive persona and exquisite detail-rich motifs.
'Without a doubt, batik should have its own trends. So people don't just follow the current trends in batik, but they're also excited to see the upcoming trends,' said Diana Santosa, managing director of Danar Hadi Batik, highlighting the stylistic evolution of the country's much-loved heritage.
Modernizing batik wear so that it can be proudly on par with other international fashion styles is no longer a figment. Since more than a year ago, Diana and her design team have been applying inspiringly attractive batik themes for the Danar Hadi ready-to-wear collections.
'I have always wanted to create batik clothing that is both chic and continuously up-to-date,' Diana says.
'Even my father constantly mentions that batik wear doesn't have to heavily rely on the latest fashion craze in Europe. We can set our own trends with the exquisite batik motifs,' she added, referring to Santosa Doellah, founder of Danar Hadi Batik.
The innovative approach in batik apparel works around its primary focus, which is to implement contemporary strokes into the intricate centuries-old batik patterns.
'We don't intend to fully modify batik prints, instead we adapt and combine different traditional batik patterns by exercising the stilasi technique,' Diana says. In other words, they update the forms while keeping the main characteristics of the original motifs visible.
'In terms of color, I want batik to be more vibrant than ever before,' she adds.
Nevertheless, Diana also incorporates the hottest fashion fads into the clothing shapes and designs.
'Basically, each theme displays our signature mix-and-match batik motif creations that are implemented into various outfit designs, which follow current general fashion trends,' Diana explains.
Each year, Danar Hadi Batik launches four separate batik themes for some of its collections.
'Every theme comprises different combinations of decorative batik patterns and colors for womenswear, menswear and sarimbit,' she said, referring to batik wear with uniform motifs specially made for couples.
Under her guidance, Danar Hadi's brilliant young designers are given total creative freedom to find ideas that will be later formulated as solid concepts for the batik theme.
'I like working with these young minds because they are very creative, passionate and full of energy. I never want to limit their amazing creativity. On the contrary, I encourage them to hold their own meetings in which they can liberally discuss their design ideas,' said Diana.
'Although the production team and I still regularly supervise their work, they should be able to do their own research and get input from a variety of sources. Later, they simply propose their list of themes for the next year to management.'
The artistic process has in fact become a stimulating journey for the designers, in which they are asked to spend time in the company-owned batik museum where it houses an extensive batik library.
Recognized by the Indonesian Record Museum (MURI) as the museum with the largest collection of batik in the country, Danar Hadi Antique Batik Museum in Surakarta, Central Java, provides a superbly inspirational research ground for batik designers.
Here, the designers have the liberty to meticulously observe rare batik pieces as part of the initial phase of their design process.
Better yet, these designers also possess the golden opportunity to preserve batik patterns that may not be so well-known by the public by reinstating them into a seasonal theme.
Danar Hadi's unceasing dedication to batik is also evident as it is one of the pioneers of chiffon silk batik.
'This refined see-through drapey material is used for Danar by Danar Hadi and our exclusive womenswear collection,' says Diana.
In past years, the limited high-end collection, Danar by Danar Hadi, has cunningly embraced the on-going global trend of retailer/designer collaborations.
Prominent local fashion designers including Carmanita, Ghea Panggabean, and Oscar Lawalata have been exclusively invited to design beautiful outfits using Danar Hadi's crepe silk and chiffon silk batik.
'We conduct a two-way design process for the collection. Meaning, these well-known designers not only design the clothes but they are also involved in determining the batik patterns, colors and fabrics that are used,' she said.
However, Diana's personal intuition plays a vital part in selecting designers who would fit in with the collection.
First, she reviews the designer's portfolio before carefully relies on her gut feeling to make the final decision.
'In my opinion, it takes a certain individual talent to be able to design batik clothing. Thus, I very much use my instincts when picking the right designer for the Danar by Danar Hadi collection,' said Diana, who has also established a designer collaboration with Tri Handoko for the playful Danar Hadi Sport collection.
By patiently building sturdy creative footing as Danar Hadi Batik currently executes, batik wear will certainly flourish and enjoy a bright future filled with a myriad of inventive creations to become the country's lasting fashion icon.
'We shall never give up conserving the batik legacy so that it can be enjoyed by generations to come.'