Indonesian Batik: Local Wisdom Comes to Fashion

Indonesian designer Janet Teowarang is helping to revive an organic Indonesian batik practice

“Back in 2018 during my on-site research program, I met batik artisans in Pasuruan Regency in East Java from several villages. The batik artisans are primarily housewives. They learned the technique through their communities and managed to sell some of their creations within the small scope of their area.” she shared with us. Through an Australian grant program she saw an opportunity to work with local batik artists and use what she calls the Three Pillars of Sustainability: economic, environmental and social that are a cornerstone of her brand, Allegra Jane.

Economic: She supports fair trade and Indonesian batik and handloom artisans.

Environment: She is promoting the use of natural dyeing, safe batik waste process, and upcycling textile and clothes waste.

“Many of the batik dyers were oblivious to the hazard of synthetic dyes to their health and safety for their surrounding environment. We re-introduced the tradition of the use of natural dyes. Indonesia is rich in materials that can be used for dyes that aren’t harmful to the environment. Plants, seeds, and fruits such as Ceriops tagal (Soga tingi), the mangrove tree species, Indigofera tinctoria, Terminalia bellerica named Jolawe or Jalawe in the local language, and many others.”

Organic dye ingredients

Social: She is empowering women in the Local fashion industry –from batik artisans to fashion designers to patternmakers and everyone else involved in production.

Through her brand, Allegra Jane, she collaborated with her fashion students at Universitas Ciputra Surabaya. The batik cloths with natural dyes are made into a sustainable collection combined with TENCEL™ fabric. Garments ran the gamut from a short jacket, tailored jacket, long outer, top outer, shirt, dress, skirt, and pants for a daily or semi-formal wear occasion.

“We designed 12 looks. The pieces are seasonless, long-wearing for mix-and-match with essential elements we own at home. Each piece is constructed carefully to make it last. We focus on details for every collection piece, from fabric manipulation and pattern cutting variation to arranging the batik motifs into aesthetic looks. Each fashion piece is constructed carefully with clean, more robust finishing such as turned under seam finish, french seam, and blind hemming for a more extended period of wearing. They are also mendable to prolong the lifecycle of the clothes. In addition, we provide free alteration, retouching, and mending the customers’ purchased garments to support circular fashion concept.”

These were shown as part of PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival Independent Program 2022. Once you get beyond the massive fashion conglomerates there is an entire world of thoughtful and independent design that is not only beautifully made but planet positive. The work of Janet Teowarang is a great example of this.

Image Credits
Photographer: Maximilian Johanes Chandra
Collection: Allegra Jane Feat. Ilmaa Ramadhani Sumarlan and Vincentia Pamvelia
Models/ Muses: Elisabet Stefanny, Claudia Marcia, Aloni, Clara Sinta and Adeline
Styling by: Patrick Samallo
MUA: Lisa and Lavinia Hadiwidjaja
Accessories: Staccato Indonesia
Location: Vertu Apartment, Ciputra World Surabaya

Fashion Concept: Sustainable fashion collection promoting three-pillar of sustainability concept with natural dyes handmade batik (batik tulis) from Pasuruan Regency batik artisans in East Java, Indonesia and TENCEL™, empowers women batik artisans and highlights the strength of sustainable textile production in Indonesia. The sustainable fashion collection is the final outcome of “Promoting Three-Pillar of Sustainability” grant scheme project funded by Australian Government through the Australian Alumni Grant Scheme and is administered by Australia Awards in Indonesia.

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–Katya Moorman

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