Since Batik has been gaining more exposure and its own audience among young Indonesians lately, we should not forget other traditional fabrics that our nation has, before some country proclaims its copyright again =) ! Indonesia has been blessed with a diversity of arts and crafts. Each of every island in our beloved archipelago has their own cultural characteristics, their own architectures, handicrafts, music, dialects, foods, and last but not least, their very own traditional textiles, like Songket, Ulos, Ikat, and many others that aren’t widely known yet.
Following the ethnic tribal trend / safari chic look, several designers are using Ikat print in their Spring collection. And I thought, such a good timing to value our own traditional textiles and expose ourself to Ikat. Contrary to our traditional Ikat which is usually made through weaving technique, either machine or hand woven (tenun Ikat), those designers in the West are mostly using Ikat as a print on their designs.
I should have reported this trend earlier since Ikat print has been seen on the catwalks since Fall 07 which has continued to reappear on the Spring 08 runways. From Armani, Balenciaga, Just Cavalli, Jenny Kayne, Missoni, Tory Burch to Oscar de la Renta and major retailers like Zara and Topshop have been carrying Ikat print into their collection. They come in neutral and monochromatic colors, as well in bright colors and the latest Ombre color tones. Fashion Snoops has a more complete review about Ikat trend, read it here.
Ikat is said to be also found in several other countries, mostly in Asia, Africa, and some countries in Central and South America. Meanwhile, Indonesian Ikats are widely found in Sumba, Sulawesi, West Timor (East Nusa Tenggara), Lombok, Flores, Bali, Sumatra, Maluku, Borneo (and some more islands/provinces that I may miss). Of all the rich textiles that Indonesia has, my favorite has always been Ikat. It has a more modern pattern, somehow geometrical, and it looks very close to digital pattern which we are very familiar nowadays.
While browsing through the net to learn more of Indonesian traditional fabrics, I came across these websites; indokain.com and threadsoflife.com, which feature all the beautiful textiles that our country has to offer. I’m discovering new treasures (Borneo Puas, Sumatran Tampans, etc.), yet also ashamed of myself for not knowing most of them. It seems like our textiles are more appreciated outside of Indonesia. The two websites mentioned above for example, one is based in Santa Fe, New Mexico and the other one is maintained by an expat living in Bali. I guess we’ve been ignoring them for so long, and maybe it’s about time that we all need to revisit our own cultural heritage.