Martha Ellen’s ‘Tenun Ikat’ Revolution


Tenun Ikat or Ikat Weaving is one of Indonesia’s most prized  heritage, which refers to intricately hand-woven fabric from some areas including Toraja, Bali, Lombok, Sumba, Flores, and Timor. Ikat is often perceived as a more exclusive fabric and a symbol of opulence, as unlike Batik which method of making today ranges from hand drawn batik to mass factory made, the art of making Ikat has not changed for hundreds of years and is still exclusive to the sometimes rural villages where they originate from.

Some designers have thankfully decided to dwell into the art of elevating Ikat to another level of style. One of them is the UK born, Indonesian-based Martha Ellen, who for long have been focusing on bringing Ikat to the limelight.

Martha’s pieces are handmade using hand woven, individually selected and designed Tenun made by local craftspeople from across the Indonesian archipelago, influenced by the motif, then translated into a modern piece by Martha’s own style aesthetic.

“I want to make clothes for women with busy lives, be they bankers, actresses, diplomats or mothers, who are travellers, independent thinkers and have a story to tell, but most of all appreciate quality and cherish something unique.” Martha explained, during her Spring Summer collection launch a few months ago.


Celebrating the culture

Martha pointed out that one of the key objectives of the brand was to build something that had a positive effect on local communities by creating a vehicle to celebrate their culture by personally work and connect with the weavers, and to preserve the local craft and make it more accessible to the international market. Her core philosophy is about making a beautifully made piece that has style and edge whilst being wearable and classic, and each piece has been handed from start to finish.

From Ready to Wear to Bespoke Items 

Most of her collections can be found in her boutique in Kemang Selatan VIII, where unique Ready to Wear pieces can be found. And for sizes, Martha bases her collection on the UK standard sizing range of size 6 – 18 to cater both local and international market. You will find that the products not only use traditional fabric but are cut to promote the natural features of the fabric as well as tailoring them to flatter the female form.  In addition to Ready to Wear collections, Martha also offers a made-to-order designing option, where you can get a piece made in a different fabric, length and size, and made to measure for a custom designed piece by the designer. For more information and to get your hand on Martha Ellen’s beautiful Ikat collection, check out the website or her Kemang Boutique below:


Jl Kemang Selatan 8, no5ABC, (jl pelita), Kelurahan Cipete, Jakarta Selatan,12410, Jakarta
(Google maps location)
Facebook: Martha Ellen
Twitter: @ikattowear
Instagram: marthaellendesign

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