FR Week - 5# Aznan’s Family - the frames of batik

Aznan’s family has produced vibrant fabrics for several decades, and is regarded as one of the most traditional families working with batik in Malaysia. Their specialities are blocking, canting and discharging.

hand drawn batik canting fashion revolution

Their workshop is filled with batik blocks of all sizes and shapes. Walking through the rows of stretched fabrics give off the aroma of the sweet smell of was drying as we try to stay cool in this unusually hot season in Malaysia.   

Aznan’s staff are humble and simple people - it’s unusual having strangers visit. Establishing a conversation was challenging for both sides - most of them are shy and speak an east coast dialect of the local language.  One of the ladies we spoke with is Che, a hand-drawing (canting) artisans. She’s worked in batik for the past 15 years and has good insight regarding colors and fabrics.

According to Che, there is competition among the batik artisans and block makers in Malaysia. They compete trying to create varieties of new batik fabrics in order to attract new customers. Aznan’s family works differently. They keep to their style, keeping traditional and trying to innovate at the same time by watching for the market’s trend and how to incorporate trends in their designs.

Che told us her sister was the person who introduced her to batik. She started doing batik for school uniforms and then moved to canting (hand-drawing) on fabrics. Her favorite motifs are flowers and nature , and she was eager to teach us how to color beautiful flowers.

There are variations in the way batik artisans work. Aznan introduced us to his way of preparing the fabrics, waxing, dyeing, discharging, etc. This exchange of knowledge is important as we create new designs and understand his process and how to incorporate them in our products.

Empathy is also part of the process of understanding artisans. Our relationships must deepen in understanding as our goal is empowering people. We need to consider their dreams and aspirations and how we can support them.  It’s Fashion Revolution - fulfilling your dream for fashion and stewarding the dreams of artisans who make it. Show them some love and spread the word.

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