January 19, 2021

Taking Batik Online

Lawasan Batik on IG Live with batik entrepeneur Widianti Widjaya of batikworkshop Oei Soe Tjoen

Normally I would have posted an end of the year look-back post or a welcome 2021 post, but since nothing is normal in this New Normal I haven't posted anything. So my first post in this new year will be a follow-up on my previous post  'How to get Batik into This New Normal'
In the previous post I wrote about how Batik is getting more visible online and how this is great and tricky at the same time. As I wrote how many organisations hosted all kind of Zooms with mostly as speakers the bigger Batik bosses and heads of all kinds of yayasans (stichting/foundation). Once in a while smaller Batikworkshops or Batikmakers got a platform. It is actually the same with how it was with events before the Pandemic. It is something I would like to see change in, since it is the Batikmakers who still hold the most knowledge in my eyes. But there are many factors at play why Batikmkaers aren't getting a platform online or are not taking these online stages. I hope with this ongoing situation we are all in more organisations on Java will work on improving this and make it easier for Batikmakers to also be present online.

Three platforms that do a better job at featuring the makers and are an Online Must Follow are the following: 

  • aNERDgallery with their series aNERDspective. Tony of aNERDgallery has every time lovely guests who either make, work, sell or in some other way are connected with Batik. Also Sustainability is a returning welcome topic. I was a guest twice myself. We did a IG live two weeks ago reflecting on 2020 and looking forward to our 2021 plans, rewatch it here!
  • Samadaya, the long awaited online platform of my Batikmentor Pak William Kwan. Through their website and on Instagram they share more on the research they did these past 10 years (or is it alreday 20 years?) and on their future plans
  • Lawasan Batik, Miss Elok who calls herself a Batik storyteller (wish I claimed that title haha) has done this past year IG live Batik talks with like every Batikworkshops and organisation active on Java! It was great seeing so many familiar faces and also get little tours in workplaces. I should be jealous, but I just feel happy someone is doing this and sharing this! 

Samadaya was one of the few platforms that had Batikmakers as a guest, here Miss Nurul from Batang, Miss Dwi and Ibu Ramini from desa Jeruk, Lasem

Instagram stories on Reclaiming the term Batik

As for Batik being sold online, it is already 10 years ago in 2010 I wrote about Batik being sold online and how difficult it is to know whether it is handmade or printed, and if the Facebook pages in this case used just images found online of Batikmakers or they actually knew the makers personally. This is of course still the case and this last years I saw the number of brands selling printed textiels under the name 'Batik' grow and grow. A year ago I shared my thoughts on this on Instagram again and reached out to sellers and brands to reclaim the term 'Batik'. Unesco under which Batik is protected as an intangible heritage is very clear on what we can call 'Batik'. By reclaiming the term for handmade Batik, we make it easier for buyers to actually support Batik. I spoke about this already often and I am happy there are more and more brands making a stand with me. I feel very grateful that some brands I reached out to, now state clearly what kind of textiles they use, whether it is handmade by canting or cap or is just a printed textile with batikmotifs. It is an important step and I hope all the new brand thats sprouted during the lockdown will take the time to inform themselves and their customers. We can only truly support Batik and celebrate heritage if we stay away from Fast Fashion printed fakes!

IG Live by Batik Tiga Negeri in Lasem, 
the internet quality of the feeds are not always great, 
but still great Batiks can be sold this way

Another new online things with Batik is sales on Instagram by Batikshops on Java. These shops often rely on either big resellers or on (local) tourists and of course on people that need Batik (clothing) for their work, parties and events. Since we are not going anywhere, this has a huge impacted on the Fashion industry worldwide. Although the Batik market is a lot smaller than that of Fast Fashion. Batik is definitely still part of this system. Now that not many people buy new handmade Batik, sellers are using online platforms like Instagram to do sales online. You can often shop by taking a screenshoot of the Batik item you want and whatsapp it to the shop. Of course this is just for people in Indonesia, but it is great to see that all these online options are helpful in presenting Batik. Of course buying Batik this way will never replace the joy of buying Batiks directly from a Batikmaker or at a Batikshop, but it is great to see these options are embraced and seem the work well.

A Online Instagram live sale by Galeri Batik YBI

Taking Batik Online is something I already did with my blog and I am very thankful for all other online possibilities. I myself could recently do a talk for the Dutch Traditional Wear organisation (Kostuumvereniging, watch it here it is in Dutch) and I got added to the Craft Council Craftmap & they shared my story also in an interview (also in Dutch). 

I am working on my own online platform for Batik. I hope I can share soon more about it. I already told a little during the aNERDspective of aNERDgallery. My wish is to make an online database to access mainly Batik history. I hope to present my plans in 6 months or so, but first I am finishing my ongoing research-project 'Re-telling the history of the (Indo-)European influence on Batik'. It will never be finished of course, but I want to wrap up my RCMC Research Associate position for now to make room to work on the online platform. 

For now keep visiting my blog, a new post is coming soon!

Stay safe, stay home, stay healthy!

Virtual hugs,


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