Batiks were worn, and continue to be worn, by all types of people living in Java. They were also exported throughout the Indonesian archipelago and to neighboring countries in Southeast Asia.
Certain styles were favored by certain communities. For example, the Javanese of central Java preferred batiks using natural dyes with abstract repeated patterns and motifs derived from Hindu, Buddhist and Indian sources. For the Chinese community of the north coast, the color red and pastels of chemical dyes, motifs derived from Chinese sources, and floral patterns were more common.
Traditionally, clothing in Java tended to be made of square or rectangular lengths of cloth that were wrapped around the body. Sometimes these would be sewn into a tubular skirt or sarong, but long unsewn cloths were considered more formal. Both men and women wore the same type of lower garments. Men wore square head cloths that were folded turban-style. Women wore shoulder cloths and long thin textiles wrapped around their chests.
People wear batik less frequently now than in the past. Batik lower garments are still worn, both casually and on special occasions. Contemporary designers are also using batik in innovative ways to make clothing and other items for international audiences.