8 Malaysian Brands Promoting Local Heritage & Culture
In Malaysia, there is no dearth of Malaysian brands with heritage promoting Malaysian culture, and their products would make excellent unique souvenirs for those back home. Many of the brands here promote Malaysian heritage through batik, which is a wax-resist dyeing technique from Indonesia that has been adapted over centuries to be uniquely Malaysian as inspired by the local flora and fauna. However, there are also Malaysian brands promoting heritage through other fabric art-forms and are just as beautiful.
Malaysian Brands On A Crusade In Promoting Their Heritage
Here are just some Malaysian brands that promote Malaysian heritage through their designs. Check out their boutiques for that perfect souvenir find, or you could also order online if you’re not in Malaysia but missing the nuances of the country from your last trip here.
Currently promoting her Cruise 2021 collection, Melinda Looi’s latest pieces come just in time for the Chinese New Year. Seemingly inspired by traditionally Chinese motifs and elements, Melinda Looi never fails to inject Malaysian heritage into her brand, here combining both Chinese apparel cuts with Malay batik patterns in her own signature quirky interpretations.
Mimpikita is a fashion brand that was started by three sisters with their own unique take on prints and design. Their clothing feature interesting silhouettes with pretty prints that have a global appeal. If you’re looking for that Malaysian heritage element in this brand, get their baju kurung, which is the traditional Malay outfit for women, consisting of a top and long skirt or sarong. Some of them even feature the batik-inspired prints that represent the essence of Malaysian prints.
A firm favourite with fashionistas, socialites and celebrities, Syomirizwa Gupta is often the go-to brand when you want modern pieces with Malaysian heritage. Born of an Indonesian mother married to an Indian father, Syomir has said that he is influenced by the Nusantara (the Malay word for “Maritime Southeast Asia”). You’ll find paisley prints on men’s shirts, Malay floral motifs on modern baju kurungs and Javanese-inspired prints on face masks.
Launched in 2017, Kapten Batik is a relatively new brand in Malaysia but have been promoting Malaysia’s batik heritage from the get-go. In modernised patterns and cuts, their shirts are suitable for daily wear but also super-appropriate for more formal events. Kapten Batik specialises in shirts for men and boys, but the fairer shoppers can also enjoy their beautiful products in the form of face masks, head bands, reusable shopping bags, tote bags and other accessories. What’s more, their accessories are made from their scrap fabrics so they’re also helping to save the environment!
While Fern’s latest collection is inspired by the African safari, the technique for producing their batik prints is undoubtedly Malaysian. Founder and creative director Fern Chua has always been adamant about celebrating the aesthetics of the batik art-form, and the love truly shows in the form of the brand’s beautiful prints.
This online shop specialises in traditional Malay apparel with a fresh look, even though they only use traditional fabric and prints. The secret is in the mix-and-match of the two-piece outfits. Thus, when you get a set from Maslea, they are just as authentic as a Malay Mak Tok’s (grandmother) baju kurung. What’s interesting is that this brand uses another Malaysian heritage fabric known as the Kain Pelikat. The Kain Pelikat is the Malay version of the Scottish kilt, in plaid patterns and usually worn by men. Maslea has taken the fabric and fashioned them into the tops of baju kurungs and kebayas and the result is stunning.
Not sure how or where to wear a full baju kurung back home? Then just get a sarong or pareo skirt and style it your way. However, when you take a look at these designs by Parca, you might just be tempted to get the whole set and figure it out later. Of course, with versatile designs such as these, the top and bottom can be worn separately with other fashion pieces. Locals have been known to rock baju kurung or kurung kedah (a baju kurung variant with wider but shorter sleeves) tops with jeans or leggings and sneakers for years.
Looking for something for the little ones? Pagoda Kingdom carries adorable printed childrenswear inspired by Malaysian elements like its tropical fruits, the Borneo rainforest, and the indigenous tribes of Malaysia. Created by Malaysian Diong Swee Gaik, you’ll love how her designs feature unique Malaysian flora and fauna like the Rafflesia flower, the Proboscis monkey, and, Swee’s favourite animal cause, the Malayan Sun Bear.
As you can see here, there are a variety of Malaysian brands that carry products and designs inspired by Malaysian heritage. Of course, there are many more that we haven’t featured here, so the next time you’re travelling here, you can discover them for yourself!
From an avid magazine reader in her teens to a writer and editor today, Zurien honed her skills at various publications including CLEO, K-Zone, Prestige, The Malaysian Women’s Weekly, LISA Malaysia, MSN.com.my, GLAM Junior, Going Places, kayak.com, HerInspirasi.com, Harper’s Bazaar Malaysia, Tropicana Magazine and Convergence by Malaysia Airports. Zurien hopes to inspire readers to enjoy the best of travel and lifestyle experiences at Gadabout.