In popular parlance, it is credited that the batik craft originated from Indonesia and possess a Javanese heritage. It is said that from there, the craft migrated to Sri Lanka during the period of the Dutch occupation.
The complex method of batik making starts from applying hot wax to cotton or silk fabric before drying. The fabric is then dyed and boiled in large pots to remove the wax. In fact, a simple batik design may have two colours. In most instances, the fabric dyeing process is done several times to form a design with many colours. On the whole, making batik fabric is not simple as it seems, as there are many laborious tasks in between. Obviously, this intricate craft certainly is a labour of love and passion.
#YohoTip In reality, no two batik garments are alike since they are handmade.
The Evolution of Batik
Batik was initially applied to decorative items, wall hangings, paintings, table decor, sarongs and sheets. However, over the past decade, it has evolved into an upmarket fashion fabric.
Did you know that celebrities like Kate Middleton, Lindsay Lohan and Jessica Alba have all been spotted wearing batik attire? These celebs have given batik an irresistible exotic, Asian persona.
From a Sri Lankan perspective the designs available are mostly traditional in the mainstream shops. In most instances, floral motifs, elephants, Kandyan inspired designs take precedence over more modern designs.
Batik Shopping In Colombo
There are a few selected batik shops in Colombo selling really upmarket batik creations. Definitely, this shows that the craft has made inroads into upper echelons of society. Furthermore, these shops in Colombo are ample proof that the craft has gained traction as one of the most sought-after in Sri Lanka.
#YohoTip Batik Shopping in Colombo is less stressful as prices as fixed in most established shops.
For the purpose of this article, we’ve mostly looked at the more traditional shops together with a designer brand in between.
The place to go for traditional batik. It is Well stocked with sarongs, shirts, dresses to cushion covers and more. The prices for shirts and sarongs range from LKR 2,000. Laksala has been around for decades and located in York Street, Fort and Bauddhaloka Mawatha. After all, these shops are landmarks in their own right and any tuk-tuk driver will know them.
Been around for over 30 years offering Sri Lankan Batiks comprising gents shirts, sarongs, wraparounds, scarves, handkerchiefs and wall hangings and more. Here, a batik dress ranges from LKR 3,750 and LKR 5,700 for a made up Kandyan saree. The shop is known especially to offer excellent customer service. The four-storey outlet is located at Dharmapala Mawatha, 7 adjacent to Sampath Bank.
Spearheaded by renowned fashion designer Darshi Keerthisena, here the traditional batik craft is given a new twist. Accordingly, the designs of the ladies garments including sarees are bold yet understated. Henceforth, the colours are used sparingly with a contemporary touch. As a result of intricate work the prices are steep but what you get is a garment with a high-quality designer feel. The price for a saree range LKR 45,000 upwards. The shop is located at Ward Place, Colombo 7.
The Roma Batik Shop
Located down Havelock Road, Colombo 6, opposite Havelock City, the shop caters to both locals and foreigners alike. In brief, it is popular because of affordable pricing and the vast choice available. After all, if you want to buy loads of batik, this is the place to be. Here, the price of a sarong starts from LKR 1,400 and a ladies wraparound ranges from LKR 1,200.
Another great and affordable brand is SALT. Located at Rosmead Place in Colombo 07 they offer reasonably-priced batik wear for women.