Finalist 2022

Ruth Hadinjoto

Ruth Hadinjoto

My design practice is focusing on cultivating my cultural heritage and creating a more sustainable system in fashion design.

I graduated with a bachelor's degree in Fashion Design (Honours) from RMIT University in December 2021. I am a determined individual who eager to learn and improve. I am into handmade craftsmanship and slow-fashion. I was exploring the interconnection between cultural identity, traditional techniques, and sustainability practice in fashion design for my final year's thesis and collection. I managed to participate in Melbourne Fashion Week 2021 Student Collection Runway and became a semi-finalist for Redress Design Award 2022. During my studies, I have also gained hands-on internship experience as production assistant at Gwendollyne, One Day Bridal and Kloke.

Design Brief:

Fashion design practice around the world has been centralised towards the western culture and contemporary fashion for years. Globalisation and colonisation have resulted in traditional techniques often being neglected and seen as outdated, especially in developing countries like Indonesia. Later, these countries become manufacturers of fast fashion and moving further away from their cultural heritage, moreover get their land polluted by the fast-growing fashion industry.

Therefore, I feel the urge to cultivate my cultural heritage and chose to explore batik textile as my main design element. I believe by applying traditional techniques in my fashion design practice, I am cultivating my cultural heritage, adding value in my own artwork, exploring my own identity, further creating a more sustainable practice. Practitioners and researchers such as Mohajer va Pesaran, Yunkaporta, Fletcher, Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawkubo have also been looking at the advantages of applying traditional techniques in contemporary fashion practice.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

I am focusing my design process for ‘Folklore’ collection on cultivating my cultural heritage and creating a more sustainable system, by applying Indonesian traditional batik technique. I believe in order to create a more sustainable system in fashion industry, we need to learn from the past since our ancestors used to have a better relationship with nature. Batik itself has been developed and practiced by generations of Indonesians to create intricate and authentic textiles using traditional and sustainable method. However it has shifted to industrial digital printing method using chemicals, since the focus has dramatically drifted from causing the least damage for the environment to gaining maximum profit and fulfilling demand.

The design design process execution is divided into two areas, which are fashion and textile. Pattern making has been my main interest in fashion design and I am expressing the structured but soft silhouette in this collection. Since I am creating my print traditionally with natural dyes, I am sorting natural-fibre-based fabrics. I am looking at a range of fabrics with different weigh from silk georgette, silk organza, cotton cheesecloth, cotton seersucker, cotton drill and cotton/linen canvas. Due to different geography and climate between Australia and Indonesia, testing to source the most suitable natural dyes from Victoria that works on these fabrics is needed.

This resulted in some plant-based dye which create the most vibrant and suitable colours. It's crucial for me that I am creating the batik textile completely myself for this collection to fully perform the authenticity of traditional technique handmade Indonesian batik. I started by developing my batik textile design, I am developing the renown Megamendung motif, touched with my own design. I am achieving this by illustrating the motif, then laser cut acrylic sheets which becomes the stencils to create my motif.

Design Excellence

This project satisfies the fundamental criteria for good design, especially in terms of sustainability, aesthetics, and functionality. My design practice priorities quality and authenticity. All of the batik textile is hand-made by myself with variation of colour combination aiming to re-invent the exotic batik textile that is known by its vibrant colours. Using natural dyes for the whole fabric to keep it environmentally friendly like the traditional way and proving to a point that natural dyes could produce intricate textile and detailed print design.

As for functionality, I designed and made some pieces with zero waste pattern and tie finishings in order to fit any body sizes to make the pieces more adjustable and functional to a wider range of users, which also elongated the lifespan of the garments. By depending on hanging, wrapping and tying the fabric, fullness and design could be formed. This manipulation of zero-waste pattern has also been used in traditional Indonesian clothing like kebaya and sarong, and also in Chinese Hanfu. Our process for developing the design through user experience testing is done in one of my class during my honours year in 2021 through a mock-up workshop I held. The participants were my classmates and the workshop consists of myself providing them with batik making tools (acrylic stencils, wax, and two natural dyes) and guiding them step by step to make the textile themselves.

The aim of this workshop is to communicate to the audience that creating colourful prints or textile could be using natural-based colourings and sustainable method. This project surely set a new benchmark for design excellence in Victoria, especially for textile making and design. This project invites closer attention to learning from past practices and critically apply traditional techniques within their design practices

Design Innovation

In achieving my goal to cultivate the culture and creating a more sustainable system, I decided to re-invent my cultural heritage and traditional techniques. In applying batik traditional technique in my collection, I am also fusing modern technology, laser cutting in the process of creating the stencil. The laser-cut acrylic stencils are created as tools to the substitute the use of tjanting. The acrylic stencils then produced in different sizes to create dynamic pattern design. In my Megamendung motif design, the stencils consist of two variations that are used in turns to apply wax in order to create multiple layers of colours that form the print. Then, combined with the traditional batik technique by using wax resist-dye and natural dyes.

Utilising the first stencil, pour the hot wax to create a dye-resistant area before dyeing with first colour. After removing the wax, the area of fabric covered with wax will remain its colour and doesn't absorb the dye. After that, repeat the previous step by using the second stencil and second option of dye with darker shade. At the end of the process of textile making, the batik Megamendung will consists of three different colours including the fabric initial colour, the colour of first and second dye. This innovation is the main design element in my design practice.

By using stencils, the batik making process is more efficient and faster in comparison with using tjanting as wax application tool. However it still embraces the traditional techniques within batik by using wax as printing technique. In result, the textile is designed and processed faster than the traditional method and creating significantly less pollution than the popular digital printing.

Design Impact

In the making process I am taking sustainability really seriously. The process of making the textile is done by myself using natural dyes and wax. The wax is reused overtime after being used to make the previous print. Some of natural dyes I am using are food waste such as avocado pit and rosemary, while the others were sourced from Victoria based natural dye shop which are cutch, gardenia, oak galls, woad and alkanet root. By doing all of the textile design and making myself, I witness that all of the waste are proven to be way more environmentally friendly in comparison with textile made with industrial digital prints done in factories with machinery.

By bringing up this project to public, I am encouraging people of colour in Victoria to be more vocal and experimental with their own cultural heritage. I am aiming to create an impact socially to encourage young generations to understand and celebrate their own cultural heritage and tradition before they are forgotten due to globalisation. By choosing the Megamendung pattern for my batik textile design, I am celebrating my own cultural heritage as Chinese-Indonesian or known as peranakan. I am Celebrating the journey of my ancestors who went through colonisation, world war, became immigrant in foreign country and survived. recreating their work in my collection means continuing their journey. Further, by owning our own cultural heritage and traditional techniques.

Young generation in Victoria are allowed to develop their heritage within their work and adding value to their brand or work, eventually earning profit from their own work and heritage. Especially having big businesses dominating the fashion industry and performing cultural appropriation every now and then. By owning our own culture, we could also progressively owning our rights as well.

Circular Design and Sustainability Features

  • Natural Dyes: all the dyes (avocado, rosemary, cutch, gardenia, oak galls, woad and alkanet root.)used for colouring in the batik making process are all natural-based from plants and food waste. This resulting dramatically less pollution than industrial/digital prints.
  • Reusable Wax: The wax used in the process to create the prints are reusable for the next textile making.
  • Reusable stencils: Since the stencils are made in various sizes, the same stencils can produce variations of print designs.
  • Homemade batik: All of the batik process is done by myself for the authentic Indonesian craftsmanship.
  • Using biodegradable fibres and materials where possible: all fabrications and dyes are natural fibres
  • Zero waste: pattern making technique in some pieces (wrapped skirt and tie dress)
  • Slowly produced: Since I am prioritising the authentic batik craftsmanship, the production has to be in house and slowly produced

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