Reinventing the Malaysian craft-making tradition of batik with Ruzz Gahara
Authenticity and fashion are two words that form an instant mental disconnect when uttered in the same breath. But when put in the context of Malaysian artisanal crafts, both together have resonance, purpose and power.
Three-year old fashion label Ruzz Gahara and its stylized, but never fussy, interpretations of resortwear based on traditional batik motifs has made headlines in Malaysia and around the world.
The label’s brand director Hanifi Triff A Thamid says the reasons for this are chic and simple. The aesthetic of the brand is modern, bohemian authentic and handcrafted, but is also minimalist, in that the clothes are not overly embellished. “The response from the international market has been encouraging," says the Kota Bahru-based Hanifi.
It’s perhaps this creative union of Malaysian heirloom arts and crafts and an international way of looking at fashion – and the world – that is most interesting of Ruzz Gahara.
Case in point, its spring/summer 2016 collection, presented at Paris Fashion Week September 2015. Central to the mood board is a creative spirit featuring a compelling reinterpretation of lotus motifs, mined from ancient Cambodian archives, and juxtaposed with the work of English textile designer William Morris. Both stylistic references were portrayed in a series of colourful dresses depicting hand-blocked prints with vivid flowers and arabesque forms.
For both its collections and made-to-measure creations, Hanifi explains that the batik-making technique employs wax as a barrier in dyeing products that result in the multi-faceted patterns on the material. He says that the process is involved and beautiful, and if required, specialised patterns can be made.
“It’s an organic process that would include getting the right patterns and colours as well as the intended materials to work with (most on pure silk and organic cottons). The artwork in then transferred to the ready-to-wear pieces or, in the case of a special orders, a one-of-a-kind creation," he says.
When deciding the look and feel of their outfits, clients meet up with a member of the creative team who then etches unique designs based on the label’s latest collection or any other pattern catalogued in the Ruzz Gahara archives. The cost of custom creations varies, and is determined when the client confirms the design and material.
Hanifi’s plan for Ruzz Gahara is to expound upon the beauty of artisanal pieces that represent luxury fashion with an ethical twist. “This will take place with a new design project – Ratis – a design-based studio and organization that works closely with artisans to improve their manufacturing capabilities and facilities, as well as their professional outlook."