Sarong is often worn as a fashionable beach accessory lately, although its ancient history is often unknown. It is probably hard to say when sarong’s history actually started, what is sure is that it has been widespread for both women and men in Asia, the Arab Peninsula and the horn of Africa, representing different historical meanings.
While men in Malaysia wear checked pattern sarongs only when going for Friday prayers to the mosque, Malay women wear it as everyday clothes. In the Persian Gulf, Arab fishermen of the Red Sea and Indian Ocean also wear sarongs. On the other hand, in Sri Lanka, sarongs are worn only by men mostly at home since it signifies the lower class in Sri Lankan culture.
In Indonesia, sarongs are everyday clothes worn by the general population. Due to the humid climate of the country, sarongs were the most suitable clothes for workers on the rice fields to navigate through the huge territories and were light and comfortable enough to easily move around. In addition, sarongs could have been used as head scarves to protect against strong sun exposure or even as carrying sacks which made them useful in everyday life as well.
Sarongs are traditionally dyed with an ancient technique, called “batik”, which has been in use for about 2000 years. It is a simple method when motifs are drawn on the fabric by melted wax and then are dyed with vegetable dye. The parts of fabric with wax on do not absorb dye, so patterns get clearly visible after wax is removed with hot water, showing off a light colour. Designs were heavily influenced throughout the centuries depending on cultural styles and the region they were made. In Indonesia, batik-dyed sarongs were the usual attire of women within society and aristocracy.
As a consequence of the flourish of Indonesia’s trade, sarong designs got refreshed by different cultures, including Chinese, Dutch, Javanese and Indo-European inspired motifs. According to this, classical Indonesian styles were completed with more colours and more abstract patterns, along with developing more cultural associations and different meanings.
The functionality of sarongs is endless, as they are suitable to wear in so many ways. Today, they are most popular with women who wear them as an outer garment covering for swimwear, wrapped around the waist as a skirt. Furthermore, there are several options for summer dresses, skirts, scarves, curtains and even bridal dresses also. Check out our sarong selection and choose your favourite style to keep up with the latest trends and save water at the same time.