Jakarta. Ambah Batik, a fashion brand by Indonesian entrepreneur Dina Rimandra Handayani, launched its newest men's and women's ready-to-wear collections in Plataran Menteng, South Jakarta, on Thursday (11/03).
"Ambah Batik is not just a fashion brand," Dina, founder and chief executive of Ambah Batik, said when interviewed just before the fashion show. "Behind it is a vision to create a new generation of Indonesian batik artisans."
Dina, who also owns a number of restaurants and beverage companies in Jakarta and Bali, loves to travel and collect batiks from many different parts of Indonesia.
"When I'm traveling, I often come and see the artisans myself," the 30-year-old said. "I started noticing that almost all of them are now above 40 [years old]."
This became a source of concern for Dina, since fine Indonesian batik will not survive if the artisans, nearly past their productive years, cannot find successors they can pass on their skills to.
"I asked them where the young ones are," she said. "They just laughed and said none of the young people are interested to become batik artisans."
The artisans said young people now prefer to earn money working in malls and factories in the cities than spending the time necessary to apprentice as batik artisans.
"Becoming a batik artisan is not very hip," Dina said.
The entrepreneur then came up with an idea to create a batik brand and also a social enterprise to bring more money in for the artisans and thus encourage young people to take up the profession.
The brand, Ambah Batik, was born in Jakarta in 2013.
"In Javanese, Ambah means 'to write,'" she said. "I'm re-writing the lives of Indonesian batik artisans with my social enterprise."
Dina employs batik artisans in Kudus and Pekalongan — all paid fair wages — for her new brand.
She also spends 50 percent of the proceeds from the brand's sales to hold batik workshops for teenagers in the two cities, long known for their batik-making traditions.
"We train [local teens] how to make batiks," Dina said. "We give them pocket money during training so their friends will join up."
Each training session takes in 50 students and lasts for about three months.
The brand will then recruit some of the best trainees from the workshop to work for the brand.
Batiks made by graduates of Ambah Batik workshops were presented to the public on Thursday.
Beautiful hand-drawn batiks featuring Pucuk Rebung (bamboo shoots), floral and geometric motifs were made into stylish jumpsuits, palazzo pants and overcoats for women.
"Pucuk Rebung is one of my favorite batik motifs," the Bogor-born entrepreneur said. "It symbolizes a philosophy that I adhere to: just like bamboos, our lives have to be meaningful for other people."
Many Indonesian celebrities flocked to the fashion show on Thursday. Actress Olivia Zalianty was one of them.
"The designs [in Ambah Batik's new collection] are very chic and up-to-date," Olivia said. "They would suit many different occasions and are easy to mix-and-match."
The men's collection features new batik motifs inspired by Indonesian action flick "Satria Heroes Bima X: Revenge of Darkness" (2017), which was produced by Dina's good friend Reino Barack.
"I fully support Dina and her social enterprise," Reino said. "She's creating a great ecosystem that cultivates local talents and makes local economy prosper."
Ambah Batik's men's collection comprises formal shirts, vests and jackets in amber, navy and indigo hues.
"I truly appreciate Dina's creativity," Joshua Simanjutak, deputy marketing director of Indonesia's Creative Economy Agency (Bekraf), said. "These new motifs have enriched Indonesian batik traditions and made them more attractive to the younger market."
In the near future, Ambah Batik plans to open a batik training center, called "House of Ambah," in Pekalongan, Central Java.
"The new training center is bigger and can accommodate up to 150 students," Dina said. "Construction has already started. We hope to open it after Lebaran [Idul Fitri, Islamic holy day in June]."
Ambah Batik's new collection is available at its boutique in Kemang, South Jakarta, and on its web store.