One thing for non-Indonesians to realize is that for hundreds of years, the batik kain panjang, 2.5 meter-long cloth, was wrapped around the body and worn every day by commoners and royalty alike. This was the garment industry in a sense. Up until the late 1970s, early ’80s, many women wore only batik kain panjang. By the 1960s batik fabric was made up into blouses, skirts, men’s shirts and other garments.
Gradually more modern dress replaced batik for everyday use. Now men and women often wear traditional batik for special occasions only. On the streets, however, the batik patterns are quite visible, many on silkscreened modern clothing styles.
Indonesians sometimes devalue batik as “just a garment.” It’s not something special, it’s just what you wear everyday. Our task as carriers of this heritage is to make people aware of this long history and the unique quality of Indonesian batik, found no where else in the world.