Although not the most modern of materials to work with, batik does have its own appeal. More fashion labels are putting their own twist on the traditional textile and incorporating it into their designs.
One example is Batek By Rasta Rashid. Founded last year, the local label makes good use of Malaysian batik to create one-of-a-kind everyday wear for both men and women.
“We want to recreate batik wear to make it exciting again for everyone to wear for all occasions,” explains founder Rastawati Dewi Abdul Rashid, better known as Rasta Rashid.
The 43-year-old points out that she is a Malaysian first and a fashion designer second. “As a Malaysian, I am constantly looking at our traditional culture to seek inspiration for my work as a designer.”
According to Rasta, Malaysian batik has been a sleeping giant in our culture. Malaysians only choose to wear it for traditional functions and formal events. She says that her label seeks to change this.
Her message to designers is to be proud of our batik. “Find new and creative ways to make something beautiful that everyone wants to wear. Be fearless in participating in major fashion shows overseas to showcase our Batek to the world.”
Rasta also believes that there should not be problem for Malaysians to highlight the use of batik globally.
This is because fashion businesses today operate in a borderless world.
She notes: “The challenge of using batik to create a men’s shirt or a woman’s dress is the unpredictability and uniqueness of the fabric. No one batik fabric produced is the same.”
Born in Kuantan, Rasta moved to Kuala Lumpur to study fashion, design and dressmaking. She currently has a store selling her batik designs in the city at Central Market.
Batek By Rasta Rashid was recently showcased on the runway at the 2017 Borneo Fashion Week in Kuching. It will also make an appearance at Malaysia Fashion Week later this year.
Rasta says that her “trademark” is the pucuk rebung design on the back of her garments. Her customers apparently love the contrast it gives.
“I get excited to see customers putting up pictures of my designs on social media. One client from Penang even posted a picture of himself wearing my batik design while hiking in the countryside!” she enthuses.