Batik for men is no longer just rocked by the older generation for government functions but has seen an injection of modern design for the younger crowd. Whether as casual wear or formal, here are some batik brands men should look out for to own a piece of this truly Malaysian creative textile.
Batik is a well-known fabric in Southeast Asia that has gained popularity thanks to Indonesia where locals in the royal court wore them as a status symbol. But when it reached Malaysian shores, batik in the form of sarongs were donned by the common folk.
The art of making batik requires skill and patience. This handmade trade can still be found in the motherland of batik-making which is the east coast states of Terengganu and Kelantan. Hand-painted batik is when melted wax is funnelled through a tool called ‘canting’ and it is used to drawn on a fabric. Intricate designs of nature or geometric shapes are usually depicted. Once the wax hardens, the artisan begins painting on it and the process is repeated to create layers of colours. Another method is block-printed batik where copper or wooden moulds with complex designs are dipped in wax and stamped on the fabric to create a pattern before dyeing it with colour.
Since the 1970s, batik has been a symbol of Malaysian art, taken home by tourists as memorabilia from Malaysia in the form of a shawl or shirts. The idea of batik being formal wear, and where some are styled by your uncle or grandfather, has changed as many local brands are reviving the batik in modern cuts and patterns for all to wear. Following are some brands with interesting designs.
Straying away from the formal, Kapten Batik’s designs are meant to be worn by the everyday man paired with staples like jeans or khakis. Short or long sleeved, these slim fit cuts inject a younger feel as envisioned by the creators, Farhan and Ekram. Both started this line to preserve the beauty and tradition of batik for the future generations.
Their batik material is sourced from various parts of the world and each with its own distinct pattern. The local collection called ‘Masterpiece’ is from Terengganu where they partnered with Terengganu Artisanal Batik to create signature designs and blocks. The assortment of fabric designs for the ‘Nusantara’ collection came from Indonesia but are made using their own colour scheme and design. Lastly, fabrics that use natural dyes are printed at Rajasthan in India for their colourful ‘Bolly’ series which still utilise their own batik block.
Get it at: Pasar Seloka Raya at Publika Shopping Gallery (21 May – 13 June) & Robinsons Department Store at The Gardens, Kuala Lumpur.
Noh and Co.
The fascination of batik came to the creators of Noh Batik when they participated in a batik making class during their honeymoon. They realised then that quality batik comes at a premium price. The Noh Batik is created to share their love for batik with Malaysians. They have priced it modestly to target a younger clientele. Their collection is targeted at men who want a cool piece for formal events, without sacrificing style. Traditional batik designs of blues and greens in fitted button up cuts are great for those occasions but if you like it funky, more tropical prints are also available.
Get it at: STYLEANNEXE, Lot 17,18,19 (G3 Floor), Publika Shopping Gallery, Kuala Lumpur.
The craft centre of Kuala Lumpur that is a haven for locally-made goods from pottery to the songket fabric also has a wide range of batik clothes for men. Check out their impressive range of batik wear for men that includes short sleeve and long sleeve options in fabrics like cotton, linen and silk. Karyaneka sources their clothes from all corners of Malaysia, made meticulously by local artisans who uses batik-making methods like hand painting or block printing.
The great thing about Karyaneka is that it can customise batik shirts for customers who want a personal experience for their batik purchase. They are able to tailor-make the local fabrics according to the customer’s preference and requirement.
Get it at: Bangunan Seri Anjung, Kuala Lumpur Complex Craft, Jalan Conlay, Kuala Lumpur.
Words by Aishah Azali