Fern Chua, founder of FERN
Known for luxurious and modern resort wear, Fern is challenging the perception that batik is dated and ‘kampung’.
How did it all begin?
“When I started out, almost a decade ago, I somehow stumbled across batik by accident – literally. I was in a car accident that injured two tendons and left my left hand paralysed for six months. I started doing physiotherapy to learn to reuse and train my hand movements, and handicrafts were suggested to me as a form of therapy. When I bought a batik fabric and transformed it into a sun dress, it came to me that there’s maybe something we’re not looking into with batik. At the time, when I told people that I’m a batik designer, they’d ask whether I design for a pakcik and makcik clientele. So, I wanted to bring a fresher approach towards it.”
As you progress, where do you see your brand in the future?
“Besides expanding here in Malaysia, bringing Malaysian batik to an international platform is a very exciting thought. Indonesian batik has played such an influence in the international market, and it’s time Malaysia’s batik starts to speak for itself now. This is why I want to push the boundaries abroad. Countries like Brunei, Japan, and even Europe are a lot more receptive towards handcrafted goods – I would say that there are a lot of opportunities there.”