KUALA LUMPUR: While garments adorned with batik motifs are commonly associated with traditional Malay attire like baju kurung and kebaya, one local fashion designer is carving out a unique niche by infusing elements of Chinese heritage into his creations, resulting in more chic and modern pieces.
Jeffery Goh, the designer behind ‘inisaya’, explained that among his designs are casual tops and dresses with mandarin collars, crafted from batik fabrics featuring vibrant and colourful Chinese culture-inspired art.
“During festive seasons, I incorporate cultural elements into the collection, offering variations that cater to different tastes.
“For instance, for this Chinese New Year (CNY) celebrations, I introduced a modest kaftan cheongsam paired with a pareo, featuring an oriental-looking batik which is also suitable for Muslims to wear,” the 27-year-old told Bernama, adding that each collection was inspired by a fusion of Malaysian cultures.
The Selangor-born designer also noted a positive trend among not just the Chinese community but throughout the country, with more individuals embracing trendy batik.
“In a constantly changing world, I firmly believe that batik should evolve alongside us. This CNY, I’ve observed an encouraging trend of Chinese individuals purchasing batik cheongsams. It’s heartening to see this, symbolising a shared Malaysian identity while retaining Chinese cultural elements,” he remarked.
Goh expressed gratitude towards the open-mindedness and tolerance prevalent among Malaysians, fostering a spirit of cultural learning and acceptance.
Meanwhile, Goh, a fashion design graduate from the Raffles Design Institute, Singapore, revealed that his team surpassed their targets by receiving over 800 orders in just three months, setting a new record for their brand, and indicating a growing appreciation for their designs.
Established in 2021, ‘inisaya’ also collaborates with a talented young batik designer from Terengganu, leading to a creative alliance that adds unique dimensions to the brand.
“In our discussions, we recognised the opportunity for innovation in Malaysian batik. Departing from traditional floral motifs, we decided to incorporate elements inspired by Malaysian kuih, a concept yet to be explored in the market,” he said.
Goh informed that their debut collection featured limited stocks of five kuih kapit motive skirts and shirts, along with five onde-onde motive skirts and shirts. The brand reintroduced the same concept for this CNY with three new kuih designs, namely Tart Nenas, Kuih Lapis, and Pulut Tai Tai, resulting in another rapid sell-out.
He said that the entire collection, comprising 153 meters of kuih-themed fabrics, was a testament to the fusion of tradition and innovation, offering hand-drawn batiks as well as digitally printed batiks, batik caps, and more. Their next collection for Hari Raya Aidilfitri will be launched this March.
Meanwhile, Low Heu Yee, a seamstress operating her business full-time at her house in Gombak, has made batik craft products her primary source of income through her brand ‘The Backstitch Studio’ for over a year.
Among the batik crafts produced by the 28-year-old are skirts, tops, cardigans, bandanas, corsets, scrunchies, slip dresses, pareos, lanyards, tote bags, and wristlet keychains.
“It has been my dream since I was young to make a living with my own products. I chose tailoring because I love handmade products that highlight creativity. Batik is my selection due to its exclusive motifs and comfortable fabric suitable for daily use,” she explained.
According to Low, her products are priced from RM5 to RM200, depending on the type, size, and design.
Her best-selling product is the cardigan and pareo set, suitable for year-round wear, especially during Malaysian-themed events. She has also received an overwhelming number of orders for cheongsam in anticipation of the upcoming CNY celebrations.
Looking ahead, Low hopes to own a physical shop in the capital city one day, aiming to modernise batik, a traditional heritage, with contemporary concepts while maintaining the essence of present-day Malaysian culture. -Bernama