#supportlocal Malaysian Brands With Malaysiana Flavour
Following up on our feature on beautiful clothing from Malaysian brands, here’s a rundown of more made-in-Malaysia goodness influenced by the local heritage. These homegrown Malaysian brands seem to know what they’re doing, and they’re doing it pretty darn well, if we may say so ourselves.
Below you’ll find different products that revel in our rich multicultural background, some of which are overt while others are quite subtle. From already influential brands to up-and-coming labels that reflect the colourful culture of Malaysians, you’re sure to find something reflecting that certain Malaysiana that you’d be proud to own or gift to others as souvenirs.
Pantun Pins is a brand big on Malaysian-themed pop culture references and has successfully taken the masses by storm with its assortment of hip enamel pins. Their collection spans from quirky takes on items of national pride, such as the Nasi Lemak and “ikat-tepi” (side-tie) beverages to universally recognised portable gaming devices from yesteryears, like the Tamagochi, that were a big part of many Malaysians’ childhoof. Whether you’re looking to spruce up your outfits, or are simply a die-hard collector of quirky wearable art, Pantun Pins has got you covered.
We’d say it’s fairly easy to spot old rattan furniture pieces in most Malaysian households. Undeniably, there is a certain kind of nostalgia that comes with staple home items of the ’70s and ’80s, like the rattan rocking chair, for instance. Unlike traditional rattan workshops, though, Rotan Lot is a new wave rattan furniture studio that skews their design language towards contemporary 21st-century style. They offer a fairly extensive selection of furniture, such as daybeds, side tables, benches and lounge chairs, among others. These rattan furniture pieces often stand the test of time. Hence, it’s worth investing in one for your home as it upholds a truly unique Malaysian identity for years to come.
Bingka KL does a stellar job of capturing the Malaysians’ hearts by paying homage to all things local. The accessories house is named after the beloved local steamed tapioca cake, ‘Kuih Bingka’, personifying a leitmotif of idyllic, pastoral kampung life. Their catalogue ranges from throw pillows to tote bags – all carrying a distinct traditional design that incorporates contemporary aesthetics brilliantly. It’s also interesting to note that the brand is shaped by a noble cause, as they strive to work alongside homemakers, refugees and non-governmental organisations.
Driven by passion , bridal designer Ash Majid dove headfirst into making batik-inspired statement pieces that soon became highly sought-after by keen-eyed fashionistas. Her exclusive chokers and necklaces are intricate in design, blending with long-standing traditional motifs that effortlessly conjure a regal image for the wearer. A firm believer in the ‘one design, one owner’ philosophy, Ash will not design two pieces that are the same. Try to keep a close eye on her Instagram page so you wouldn’t miss out on pieces that you’d love to get your hands on.
In case you missed it, this Malaysian brand broke the Internet with its Oversized Baju Melayu that garnered much buzz nationwide. Polarising reactions aside, the brand managed to cement itself as a firm proponent of breaking design conventions. It does so by reimagining traditional wear, including the Chinese samfu and cheongsam as well as kaftans, with an edgy, avant-garde feel. Utilising jaw-dropping silhouettes and tongue-in-cheek styling, Behati brings a new meaning behind the idea of self-expression, all while encapsulating the true essence of Malaysian roots with its range of bold garments.
Inspired by history, Tangsi Tujuh doesn’t shy away from preserving cultural heritage for the future generation. As a matter of fact, they wear it rather proudly on their kebaya sleeves. The apparel label celebrates “Nusantara” sensibilities by drawing heavy cues from the customs and spirit of “slow living”. Their nuanced take on reviving traditional garments showcase the timeless elements found within the region – teluk belanga silhouettes, Minangkabau embroideries, batik textiles – with an extra emphasis on comfort and practicality.
Riding on the wave of modest wear revival is local clothing label, Labo. True to their play on the Malay word ‘labuh’, the brand’s garments are loose, long and tunic-like. Their pieces are mostly inspired by traditional Baju Melayu silhouettes (think: teluk belanga eel-spine style neckline and cekak musang raised stiff collar), complimented by recurring monochromatic hues that are exceptionally sleek. Labo’s ready-to-wear pieces are versatile, and you’ll find no trouble in pairing them with your casual get-up.
Artisanal boutique and a social enterprise Earth Heir champions craftsmanship above all. The brand is home to exquisite mengkuang (screwpine leaves) handicrafts, woven bags and clutches, handpainted scarves and household items that are made by skilful artisans. These artisans were brought together by Earth Heir under the conscious effort of creating sustainable livelihoods, especially among impoverished communities. In doing so, they’re not only preserving the craftsmanship – something that is often passed down through generations – but also shining the limelight on products with unique cultural narratives.
Between eccentric catchphrases and everyday Manglish speech, Apom (not to be confused with the Malaysian peanut pancake street food) sure knows how to take a jab at Malaysians and their many idiosyncrasies. The brand proudly showcases the real insights into Malaysia with its cheeky incorporation of everyday experiences. You’ll be amused to discover visual references to local street names, contentious political foibles and other Malaysian pop culture emblazoned on their souvenirs. Just as its tagline goes, Apom’s merchandise truly signifies A Piece of Malaysia.
Batik in Malaysia is a form of textile art that is, needlessly to say, enshrouded in cultural significance. Enter Nysakapas, a local batik house conceived by Haniza Hashim alongside her band of artisans from Kuala Terengganu. After fleeing from the city life and settling down there, she began producing batik prints that transcend pastiche motifs, with an added modern flair. These eye-catching designs are stamped primarily on cotton viscose and cotton poplin for you to fashion into any type of clothing. Her batik prints are also available on other goods too, such as tote bags, household items and face masks.
Nowhere near an exhaustive list of Malaysian brands that incorporate Malaysian heritage and culture, we believe that there are other local brands that we might have missed out on. However, there is one thing for certain here: No matter how many generations have passed, our stories and history are here to stay.
Izzat is your regular 20-something, currently trying to navigate his way through the murky waters that is adulting. When he’s not hunched in front of the computer trying to catch deadlines, you’ll find him buried under the sheets watching films, or doing what he does best, which is sleeping.