Batik is well-loved by many in Singapore and in various ways. As traditional pieces that reflect culture, batik clothing is often worn to celebrations and ceremonies; in recent years, many have also started donning vibrant, modern batik as casual wear on the streets, or a laid-back fit for a day at the beach. As such, batik shops in Singapore have designed batik prints for maxi dresses, men’s shirts, and even swimwear. There is so much to love about this unique clothing, which is why we share everything you need to know about batik styles on our sunny island!
More than clothing: Batik as art
Batik is the method of using wax and wax-resistant dyes to design cloth. The name is Javanese in origin, derived from the word amba, which means ‘to write’, and titik, meaning ‘dot’. To create batik, an artisan uses wax to write or dot patterns on the fabric, before dipping it into a dye to colour the surrounding cloth. After being dyed with a single colour, the cloth is often submerged in boiling water to melt the wax, then a new pattern of wax is created followed by the dyeing of the fabric in another colour, and so on. The process is repeated with every pattern and colour layered onto the cloth, resulting, finally, in a beautiful and complex batik design.
Today, batik is being embraced by many countries worldwide, including Singapore, Malaysia, Nigeria, India, and Sri Lanka. But, the country that has the longest batik history and tradition is none other than Indonesia. Indonesia batik patterns are designed by artisans who are skilled in their workmanship, technique, and designing of prints. These highly skilled artisans are often inspired by the rich and diverse cultures of the country. In fact, Indonesian batik was added to the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list in 2009 and is recognised by UNESCO as a historical fabric of human civilisation. As such, batik shops in Singapore like ours continue to work with family-owned workshops in Java, Indonesia to design original patterns and create batik clothing of superior quality for our customers.
Peek into the making of batik clothing
The batik fabric is first chosen and prepared before starting the waxing and dyeing process. Natural materials like silk, cotton, and linen are used for batik as they can easily absorb the wax that is applied to them. Silk is often chosen for a more luxurious look; batik silk is used to express a style that is professional and classy, whereas cotton or linen fabrics are often chosen by batik shops in Singapore to create a beach or batik streetwear. After picking the desired fabric, it is boiled multiple times to remove traces of starch, chalk, lime, or any other substance that would resist the dye later on in the process.
When the cloth has been prepared, the artisan proceeds to use charcoal or graphite to outline the pattern onto the fabric. Most of the time, stencils are used to help the artisan trace the patterns on the cloth. Otherwise, the cloth is placed onto a clear glass tabletop that is illuminated from below, casting a shadow of a pattern as a guide.
The next step in the making of batik clothing is the drawing or stamping of wax to form patterns on the cloth. Different batik-making methods use different tools such as canting, a small copper vessel with a narrow sprout, and the cap, which is a stamp made also from copper, are used to hold and apply the wax onto the cloth.
"Batik cap" is a method for creating batik patterns using copper stamps. These motifs will be carved onto copper plates, which will then be used to stamp liquid wax on the fabrics. Through the “batik cap method”, designs are applied in wax with cap stamps. These days, people prefer this method as the cap serves as a stamp that speeds up the entire patterning process.
The “batik tulis” on the other hand, is a more traditional technique of batik-making. During this process, artisans use canting like a pen or brush to draw the wax patterns. The wax is commonly made out of a mixture of beeswax, for its softness and malleability, and paraffin as it attaches adhesively to cloth. Often, perfected wax recipes are kept as trade secrets because the quality of wax can make a significant difference to how the batik turns out. Cheaper wax is also used to cover larger areas of cloth, whilst better quality wax is used to trace the intricate patterns on the fabric.
On the other hand, modern batik clothing uses more vibrant colours ranging from pastel pink and purples, bright yellows and greens, to deeper blues and reds. Batik shops in Singapore today often retail either modern batik clothing, or a mix of traditional and modern batik. Besides bright and cheerful colours, modern batik clothing is also characterised by contemporary motifs such as plants, birds, rain, stones, flowers, and so on - straying from traditional batik motifs like Kawung, which is the pattern of a stylised four-lobed flower, and Parang, dagger-like patterns running parallel with one another.
Our batik sleeveless maxi dress featured left is an example of modern batik clothing. It brings together tan, black, and ivory in a gentle floral pattern to reflect the beauty of our garden city.
Easing into batik style: How to wear batik clothing?
Since batik clothing has a unique flair and beauty, people who have never worn batik before sometimes feel unsure about whether they can pull off the style. As batik in Singapore today is also often associated with the beach or relaxing outdoors, it can be tricky to find the right pieces to flaunt a more formal or smart-casual fit for going to the movies or hanging out in town. We’ve got some tricks up our (batik shirt) sleeves, so let us share our tips on how to flaunt your most confident style with batik clothing in Singapore!
Research for inspiration
Search batik blogs, style catalogues, and Pinterest boards to get inspired by a plethora of styles. Aside from traditional sarong wraps, kebayas, and batik shirts for men, batik styles also include modern designs with bright colours and new types of patterned details. Some may even choose to layer either traditional or modern batik pieces with other types of clothing. For instance, a long batik skirt could be paired with a denim jacket or cropped silk top for a more sophisticated style. You may not necessarily have to follow the styles you see online all the time. Instead, you can choose to draw inspiration from many types of batik clothing available in Singapore, and explore the various ways of wearing them.
2. Start small
Instead of donning batik from head to toe, you can start with a single piece of batik clothing or accessory to explore your style and build confidence. Batik scrunchies or headbands, for instance, are a great way to ease yourself into wearing batik - the fabrics on these accessories are detailed with intricate patterns and they can be paired with jeans, skirts, or any other clothing for casual style. Batik skirts are also another easy piece to start with - girls can match this item with a fitting cropped top, one-shoulder top, or cami top for a day out at the mall with friends.
3. Explore batik on casual occasions
Relaxed styles are easier to achieve, so why not throw on some beautiful batik clothing for your casual occasions? Whether lounging at a friend’s house, going to the beach, or having a picnic at the park, batik pieces are the perfect way to bring about an easy-going summer vibe. Ladies can go with breezy batik dresses in bright, cheerful colours, whilst men can don batik shorts with a solid coloured or graphic t-shirt for a laid-back style. Altogether, find occasions that make it easy for you to pull off a casual outfit so that you can have fun styling batik any way you love.
Turning up your style: Introducing the batik catalogue
Being familiar with the selection of batik clothing that is available in Singapore will help you make the most out of the designs and fully express your style. To get you started, we introduce the best types of batik clothing for you to choose from:
#1 Batik sleeveless maxi dress
Falling to just above the ankles in an A-line silhouette, batik sleeveless maxi dresses create a gentle outline that complements almost any body shape or type. Because of its length, batik maxi dresses are the ideal fit for more formal occasions like a dinner gathering or party - especially when it is created with luxurious fabrics such as silk or viscose. Viscose is a type of rayon fabric that imitates the properties of silk, thus creating an expensive or sophisticated feel. Our Elegant Viscose Maxi Dress is fitted in the chest and flares out from a high waist; it is a piece of batik clothing that is suitable for special occasions.
#2 Batik sleeveless knee-length dress
Like batik maxi dresses, batik knee-length dresses have a gentle waistline and flare slightly to create a subtle A-line silhouette. The main difference is that batik knee-length dresses are shorter, and thus create a more relaxed style suitable for casual or smart-casual occasions.
For smarter events such as dinner dates or hotel brunches, knee-length batik dresses with V-shaped or boat necklines can be paired with a simple accessory to elevate your style. On the other hand, sleeveless batik dresses make a wonderful fit for breezier occasions like a lunch date at a cafe.
#3 Batik short-sleeved knee-length dress
Batik short-sleeved dresses are also a sophisticated choice for those who prefer a more covered look.
Various types and lengths of sleeves can help you to pull off a distinctive style. For instance, cap sleeves cover just the shoulders in a diagonal cutting, thus making it a flattering fit for most women. Our batik dresses feature cap sleeves that are slightly longer, covering beyond the shoulders to complement most body shapes whilst pulling off a clean, modern vibe.
Three-quarter sleeves end just below the elbow and are an ideal cutting for dresses that are not tight or form-fitting. They balance out the overall outline of the dress and provide a flattering shape for most women. These sleeves are also known to bring out the length of your arms and make them look slimmer.
#4 Batik long-sleeved blouse
Batik long-sleeved blouses can be worn just like any regular blouse - with jeans, sailor pants, wide-legged pants, pencil skirts, shorts and so on. The exquisite hand-stamped or hand-drawn patterns on the blouse are what transform a regular blouse into a stunning batik design. Our batik long-sleeved blouses are designed either as a singular piece or with buttons running down the front for a more detailed look. Sleeves end at the wrist, where they are gathered with an elastic.
#5 Batik skirt
Batik skirts are the go-to item for first-time wearers of batik clothing because they can be easily paired with a modern top and layered with outerwear for a clean, contemporary style. Simply pair the batik skirt with a fitted cropped top, off-shoulder top, cold shoulder top, cami top, tube top, wrap top - or any other piece that fits snugly, to contrast with the loose folds of a batik skirt. For a chic but conservative look, you can match the skirt with a more form-fitting blouse or long-sleeved shirt. With so many colours and patterns to choose from, there are endless ways for you to style your batik skirts for any occasion in Singapore.
#5 Batik two-piece outfits
If you’re worried about getting different batik pieces to match, consider two-piece outfits in which the top and bottom pieces are designed with the same batik patterns, for a complete fit. That’s one way that you can put two pieces of batik clothing together - by pairing the same patterns. Otherwise, you can feel free to mix and match your two-piece batik outfit by paying attention to the various patterns as well as colours.
Putting pattern on pattern can make a chic statement rather than a fashion disaster if you do so the right way. A handy tip? Keep colours similar when you switch up the patterns. For instance, choose a top and bottom that use shades of blue or similar hues like purples and pinks, whilst picking patterns that are different. You can also work with different-sized patterns for more significant contrast in your outfit. One example would be using large-scale patterns for one piece and smaller, more intricate details for another.
Instead of pairing batik and batik together, go for a modern style by wearing one piece of batik clothing (either the top or bottom) with a solid piece. Our women’s batik shorts can go well with a solid tee or single-coloured blouse. Or, don our women’s batik top with a pair of skinny jeans for a chic and stylish look.
#6 Men’s batik shirt
Batik styles are as popular with and fashionable for men as they are for women. Men’s batik shirts can be worn for both casual or smart-casual occasions - be it on a beach holiday, or as city-street wear in Singapore. Pair these batik shirts with beach shorts and you're all ready for a chill day at the beach, or with Bermuda shorts for a casual stroll around town.
Style it up a notch with long-sleeved shirts for ceremonious occasions and celebrations; our shirts are designed to be slimmer than traditional batik shirts, so the slim-fit cutting gives a younger and more sophisticated look. Men’s long-sleeved batik shirts are fitting formal wear outside of the office, so why not enjoy browsing our store’s selection for unique patterned looks for all your special dates?
#7 Men’s batik shorts
Men’s batik shorts are designed for comfortable wear at home, the beach, or in the city. For a relaxed fit to enjoy the sun, sand, and sea, pair these shorts with a single-colour or graphic t-shirt. Batik shorts are also often designed with vibrant colours for a cheerful, casual style - perfect for adding a splash of colour to even to the plainest outfits. A plain white t-shirt would also pair well with colourful batik shorts, at the same time, keeping your outfit interesting and unique.
To dress up for the town, you could wear a plain oversized t-shirt or men’s shirt, and complete your look with accessories such as a watch, men’s bracelet or necklace. Throw on a pair of comfortable sneakers or trendy slides, and you’ll be ready for a dashing day out.
Switch Up Your Outfit With Batik Clothing In Singapore
All in all, there’s no better way to wear a unique style than by incorporating batik clothing with intricate motifs into your wardrobe. With Anmako’s wide range of versatile styles, finding the right outfit for any occasion will be a breeze. Don’t be afraid to explore different styles by mixing and matching and complementing your partner’s outfit. After all, the best part about playing dress-up is getting to experiment with different fashion pieces that let you express your most authentic self - so, just have fun with it!
Anmako is a batik clothing shop in Singapore that retails both traditional and modern batik pieces, ranging from maxi dresses, skirts, to men’s shirts. Shop our original selection of batik clothing online today!