9 Homegrown labels to shop from if you're looking for traditional batik with a modern twist
Batik needs no introduction, but for those of you who are not familiar, it refers to the wax-resist dyeing technique that was brought into Malaysia by Indonesian (or then, Javanese) immigrants. Nowadays, the traditional textile art can still be found in states such as Kelantan, Terrengganu, and Pahang, but there’s been an emergence of homegrown labels that are all about giving it a modern update, and they should definitely be on your radar.
This Merdeka, get your batik on by knowing—and shopping from—the list of contemporary brands below:
The Batik Boutique
Founded in 2009 by Amy Blair, The Batik Boutique is a social enterprise that aims to transform and empower women from marginalised communities. Hiring village artisans to provide them with work and a sustainable income, together, the brand is now one of the most known brands locally, and their products span across face masks, bags and pouches, apparels, homeware and more.
Shop The Batik Boutique on its website or at its boutique at 3, Jalan 26/70a, Desa Sri Hartamas, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur.
Unlike the rest on our list, accessories brand Frankitas champions an array of traditional textiles, from ikat (from Uzbekistan and Indonesia) to songket and batik (sourced locally) and more from India and Africa. Aside from preserving the heritage of the weavers in Asia, its founder, Franki Turner, also stresses on the importance of an ethical and fair-trade process.
Shop Frankitas on its website or at its boutique at 21, Jalan Setiabistari, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur.
Although Fern still uses the wax-resist dyeing technique, the brand—and its tagline “The New Batik”—is all about pushing the boundaries, be it in the tools that they make the pieces with (from canting to brushes and sponges) or its patterns. A scroll through its site and you’ll find an array of feminine and polished pieces in nature-inspired prints that are rendered in silhouettes that radiate a sense of ease.
Shop Fern on its website, at its flagship at UGF-17A, Upper Ground Floor, Bangsar Village II, No. 2, Jalan Telawi 1, Bangsar Baru, 59100 Kuala Lumpur, or at Tanjung Jara Resort.
Related: Watch our Inside The Atelier episode with Fern’s founder, Fern Chua here.
If you’re looking for modern pieces in the traditional batik print, Kanoe is the brand to know. Its latest collection, dubbed the Thumbellina, features tropic-friendly off-shoulder dresses, cropped shirts and fanny packs in motifs that are created using the batik cap method.
Shop Kanoe on its website.
At Maryam Bayam, all the batik fabrics that are used in its line are sourced directly from Terrengganu and made in Kampung Chelet, Nilai. But while the textiles are traditional, the pieces are given a boho, cool-girl twist, from headbands to chokers to scrunchies.
Shop Maryam Bayam on its website.
Looking for one-of-a-kind pieces? Check out Gérson Custom Made Batik—a family-run business that started out customising unique batik designs during the festive season. All you need to do is to pick a design from its Instagram feed, mention your colour preference and select from its current fabric collection, submit your measurements, and voila!
Make an appointment via its website here.
Known for its chic kaftan sets, we love how Saarat's pieces—available in a wide range of hues—can be styled up or down according to your liking. Aside from its bestseller, you can also find reversible stoles that will jazz up the simplest of outfits too.
Shop Saarat via its Instagram page here.
Earring lovers, rejoice. Oh Dayang specialises in hoop earrings that are made from batik, although the brand has expanded its offerings to include necklaces and bangles. Its colourful designs will jazz up your lobes, that’s for sure.
Shop Oh Dayang via its Instagram page here.
Suria Artisan Batik
Citing the Malaysian rainforest as its main source of inspiration, the clothing—including tops and kaftans—produced by Suria Artisan Batik comes in silhouettes that radiate a sense of ease, and the best part of it all, is that they are all made with a zero-waste initiative, where the remnant wax are all recycled. Aside from supporting marginalised artisans, the brand also sponsors a local environmental NGO called TRCRC.
Shop Suria Artisan Batik on its website, or find them at KitaKita in Republik Damansara Heights, The Ritz Carlton and The Andaman Resort in Langkawi.