Somewhere east of Java : Batik jacket printing.

The air is hot, heavy and unforgiving. The days are long and hazy. Why of course it’s that time of year again. Summer.

You are accustomed by now to this seasons wardrobe, but know that it can be hard to keep appearances up. Smart attire can be a rather tall order to achieve whilst it’s anywhere above 25 degrees and to think about donning a jacket can bring you out in a sweat just thinking about it.

I’m writing this post, in relation to this very dilemma I faced, but managed to solve it just the other day with a new jacket purchase. A lightweight cotton batik print jacket, in red and black dating from the late 50s. Perfect vintage in my opinion.

Once receiving the jacket, from the states, I was amazed at the vibrant colour and the techniques that would’ve gone into producing the jacket, but most importantly it was the fabric itself. The fabric prompting me to find out a bit more about the roots of this crafted technique.

I won’t go into depth about this fabric decorating technique too much, as it dates back arguably to around 650 AD give or take… and you could be here some time.

The roots of true Batik was birthed in Java (Indonesia) and involves using a tjanting (a wooden handled tool with a tiny metal cup with a tiny spout) which is filled with wax and applied onto cotton fabric. After a pattern is formed the fabric is dyed and then hung up to dry. Once dry it is dipped in a solvent to dissolve the wax, or ironed between paper towels or newspapers to absorb the wax and reveal the deep rich colors and the fine crinkle lines that give batik its character. This traditional method of batik making is called batik tulis.


Typical tulis print


3/4 jacket shot

Lesson over and quite a few years after the Javanese creation, it made it’s way around the world. Fast forward to the 50s and you’ve got a persuasion of  the young and beautiful set about their person in batik dresses, jackets and shirts. Adopted rather quickly by the ‘Ivy league-ers’ in the US colleges, for obvious noted for it’s practical ‘coolness’, but more for the vibrancy and culture that came with it.

Summers gang

Summers gang


Popular US stores batik take – Nice simple ad style too


Batik made it’s way overseas to the UK all the way through the 1960s. As worn on Georgie Fames album cover circa 64′

Below are a variety of images of batik in action; a great way to wake your wardrobe up and something that hasn’t been stuck in the depths of the fashion faux pas of yesteryear.

j press

Ivy heaven – J.Press catalogue


ReynMcCollough outside Reyn Menswear (another favourable US shop) in a madrasesque shirt

Since it’s mid-century hey day, it has shown itself more recently as you’ll see below. Japanese brand, Beams (they always seem to get it right), have produced their own take on the patch pocket, unlined lightweight jacket. Hats off to them, I think they got it, which isn’t that surprising considering they’ve got docturates in Ivy.

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 21.14.19

Japanese Beams jacket.


Another example of contemporary designers making us of batik

This entry was published on July 16, 2013 at 8:53 pm. It’s filed under Blog post and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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