Creative director and founder of Fern is on a mission to modernise batik

The New Batik

The interior of Fern's boutique in Bangsar Village mall is accented with, like its name suggests, a number of potted ferns. The rest of the furnishing is deliberately monochromatic to allow for the colourful batik to stand out in the space.

In this video shot inside her boutique, owner and designer, Fern Chua, shares with us about her love of batik and her journey as one of the traditional craft's most passionate advocates. She recalls how she got into batik designing to regain strength in her hands after a bad car accident. The 32-year-old also talks about her new line called the Fern series that looks to nature's green and yellow for inspiration. She also experimented with new shapes, such as the oval top that gives a modern silhouette. 

Redefining Traditions

“I went to Terengganu and Kelantan to learn more about batik,” says Fern. “It was really interesting because I thought to myself, why was no one doing something different with batik. Why was it limited to traditional wear?”

She started her eponymous label in 2013 to bring a contemporary spin to batik. Eschewing wax prints, Fern experimented with watercolours to create dresses, maxi skirts and jumpsuits with modern batik patterns such as coral, waves and fern leaves. Her efforts did not go unrecognised in the industry, with the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik himself officiating the opening of her boutique earlier this year.  

ICYMI: 10 Indie Brands That Show Off The Versatile Side Of Batik.

Partner In Design

Two heads are better than one, and Fern found a kindred spirit in Ruzz Gahara, a fashion brand that incorporates traditional Kelantanese batik in modern wear. Fern notes: “I admire their hand-block technique and how different their style is.” The partnership in 2014 birthed the Fern x Ruzz Gahara collection, which brought a fresh, contemporary perspective to the batik print. The success of this collaboration has only spurred her to work harder to realise her batik dreams.

Read also: Piala Seri Endon Recognises Malaysian Designers For Their Creative Work With Malaysian Batik. 

  • PhotographyKhairul Imran
  • VideographyDean Shaari