Mixed into the world of Malaysian Batik is a French designer who has managed to assimilate into the industry and yet stand out with a style that is all her own. This is the story of a French woman’s love for this traditional Asian textile and the success of her Arizali label.
Even as a young girl living in France, Nashka Solotareff loved textiles and her experience with batik started long before she came to Malaysia. The batik paintings that she made in France were nothing like those created in this country however. Upon arriving in Malaysia, Solotareff soon discovered that gutta, the coloured glue-like resist she had been using instead of wax would melt under the hot Malaysian sun and the French dyes would never set in this humid climate. Thus, she learned to adapt to her new home and exchanged her gutta pen for the canting tool and tin blocks of Malaysia.
As a boutique manager for Club Med Resorts, Solotareff had the opportunity to explore all over Asia. Her focus on the batik print technique finally led her to Malaysia where she found it to be an ideal place to start her own business. Soon after settling down in Kuala Lumpur, she began creating her own designs under the brand Arizali. The wide variety of colours, designs and garments that she found during her travels however inspires her to this day as she incorporates them with the more somber look of her native French fashion.
The name Arizali comes from alizarine, the French name of a plant which has been used for centuries to make a deep, red dye. It speaks of the ancient and opulent nature of batik and is easy to pronounce in any language. As Solotareff asserts, “it sounds Asian but could also be Italian.” The name’s versatile nature is perfect for a brand that prides itself in its fusion of European and Asian designs.
When Solotareff started her batik collection back in 1988, she used the name “ASLI” for the collection. Only when she started Arizali in 2002, expending the Collection to Resort Wear, she dropped the ASLI name, and continued all the collections under Arizali. Arizali developed with a focus on beachwear and leisure apparel for the traveller and is often labelled as “casual city and resort wear.” Affordability is important to Solotareff who explains that she would much rather have her products in high demand than have them gather dust in high-end stores. With Arizali, it is even possible for customers to be able to buy many of her products all in one shopping trip. Although reasonably priced, Solotareff declares that she will never compromise on quality.
What makes the Arizali brand appealing and special is that the apparel is versatile and can be worn anywhere and for any occasion. Refined and elegant, it can also be worn in the office. The lightness and ease of maintenance make Arizali great for travelling so travellers can be beautiful even when on vacation.
Solotareff brings in her materials from other countries such as India, China and Indonesia then supervises the final cutting, creating and packaging in Malaysia. Thus, her products combine quality materials from all over Asia with the excellence of a product made in Malaysia. As it is, all Arizali products are produced in Malaysia. The fabrics are selected not only for their fine quality but also for their durability and ease of maintenance. With this wide assortment of fine fabrics, Malaysian techniques and rich textures, Arizali is a brand of apparel that is light, colourful and comfortable all at once.
In order to have continued success, it is important to find talented suppliers who can develop new fabrics and colour patterns as well as dedicated batik factories to produce her products. Solotareff is frustrated by the decrease in both supplies and workers since she first started her business. The limited colours and workers also limit her products.
Solotareff is determined not to let this set her back however and takes pride in the variety of colours and styles that are offered as well as the wide range of coordinated garments and accessories under her label. There is something here for everyone in this fusion of quality with affordability and the elegance of East and West.