Javanese traditional batik, especially from Yogyakarta and Surakarta, has notable meanings rooted to the Javanese conceptualisation of the universe. Traditional colours include indigo, dark brown, and white, which represent the three major Hindu Gods (Brahm?, Visnu, and ?iva). This is related to the fact that natural dyes are most commonly available in indigo and brown. Certain patterns can only be worn by nobility; traditionally, wider stripes or wavy lines of greater width indicated higher rank. Consequently, during Javanese ceremonies, one could determine the royal lineage of a person by the cloth he or she was wearing.
Other regions of Indonesia have their own unique patterns that normally take themes from everyday lives, incorporating patterns such as flowers, nature, animals, folklore or people. The colours of pesisir batik, from the coastal cities of northern Java, is especially vibrant, and it absorbs influence from the Javanese, Arab, Chinese and Dutch cultures. In the colonial times pesisir batik was a favourite of the Peranakan Chinese, Dutch and Eurasians.
UNESCO designated Indonesian batik as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on October 2, 2009. As part of the acknowledgment, UNESCO insisted that Indonesia preserve their heritage. In Indonesia, batik popularity has had its ups and downs. Historically, it was essential for ceremonial costumes and it was worn as part of a kebaya dress, which was commonly worn every day. According to Professor Michael Hitchcock of the University of Chichester (UK), batik "has a strong political dimension. The batik shirt was invented as a formal non-Western shirt for men in Indonesia in the 1960s, not long after the country's birth. It waned from the 1960s onwards, because more and more people chose western clothes as fashionable, decimating the batik industry.
However, batik clothing has revived somewhat in the turn of 21st century, due to the effort of Indonesian fashion designers to innovate batik by incorporating new colors, fabrics, and patterns. Batik is a fashion item for many young people in Indonesia, such as a shirt, dress, or scarf for casual wear. Kebaya is regarded as a formal attire for women. It is also acceptable for men to wear batik in the office or as a replacement for jacket-and-tie at certain receptions. After the UNESCO recognition for Indonesian batik as intangible world heritage on October 2, 2009, Indonesian administration has asked Indonesians to wear batik on Friday, and wearing batik every Friday is encouraged in all government offices and private companies ever since.
Garuda Indonesia flight attendant uniform in kebaya and batik parang gondosuli motif.
The existence and use of batik was already recorded in the 12th century and the textile has since become a strong source of identity for Indonesians, and to lesser extent Malaysia and Singapore. Batik is featured in their national airlines uniform, the flight attendants of Singaporean, Garuda Indonesia and Malaysian national airlines wear batik prints in their uniform. Although the uniforms are actually not real batik because the production is not using the traditional way but using mass produced techniques. The female uniform of Garuda Indonesia flight attendants is more authentic modern interpretations of kartini style kebaya and batik parang gondosuli motif, which also incorporate garuda's wing motif and small dots represent jasmine. The batik motif symbolizes the ‘Fragrant Ray of Life’ and endows the wearer with elegance.