Preparing your closet for Lunar Chinese New Year shopping ahead? Then be sure to browse from these Malaysian homegrown fashion brands and stock up on essential pieces.
For the Chinese, no other time of the year is marked with as much fanfare and electric zeal as the weeks leading up to the Lunar New Year festivities. Typically occurring in late January or early February depending on the emergence of the new moon during this period, it denotes the beginning of the spring season according to the traditional Chinese lunarsolar calendar and spans 15 days in total.
Symbolically heralding a fresh beginning, the festival has even come to influence other similar New Year celebrations by neighbouring cultures, such as the Korean Seollal New Year and the Vietnamese Tết Nguyên Đán. Given its broad scope, the Lunar Chinese New Year customs practiced by the myriad of Chinese ethnic groups across the globe on its own can vary considerably.
With that said a few core tenets remain as common denominators, from red decorative motifs as a symbol of auspiciousness, to the fastidious cleaning of a family abode to sweep away misfortune in preparation for the incoming year’s good tidings. This is also a period during which demand for Chinese apparel reaches critical mass, with fashion’s trendsetters and arbiters of good taste flocking to scour for the latest and greatest of Lunar Chinese New Year collections in anticipation of the unrelenting house visitation schedules and innumerable family portraits that the season ushers.
From silk brocades to Chinese panko buttons and fastidious beadwork and embroidery details, these are the Malaysian fashion labels you should mark down for your Lunar Chinese New Year shopping lists this year.
Feature and hero image credit: Khoon Hoi Gold/Instagram, Brian Khoo/Instagram
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. Can you buy clothes during Chinese New Year?
– Yes, you can get plenty of Chinese New Year shopping done at major fashion labels, as most typically carry limited capsule collections for the festive season.
2. What clothes do you wear on Chinese New Year?
– Traditional Chinese apparel is usually recommended during Chinese New Year. Otherwise, garments in red, yellow, or orange, are also suitable.
3. What are traditional Chinese New Year clothes called?
– Traditional Chinese apparel includes the likes of the cheongsam, samfu, and magua, among others.
Complete your Chinese New Year shopping by browsing these Malaysian homegrown fashion brands
Often credited for bringing about a resurgence of interest in cultural garb among Gen Z consumers, Malaysian label BEHATI is a good place to start browsing for your next Lunar Chinese New Year purchase. This year’s collection, dubbed DYNASTY, was released in four iterations that introduced a spectrum of new motifs to the label’s hallmark play on exaggerated proportions. Expect everything from denim to florals complementing modernised ma gua tops and sensuous qipao dresses with boned corsetry.
Malaysian fashion grand dame Melinda Looi has minted a formidable reputation as one of the most illustrious names in the business, and for good reason. Introducing subtle anarchy into the homegrown sartorial space by boldly going against the grain of frou-frou appeal, her brand is now instantly recognisable for its dimensions of quirky, whimsical style. This has extended to her diffusion line, Mell by Melinda Looi, and its latest Crossroads Chinese New Year collection. Reinterpreting the conventional qipao shape, the range encompasses tops and dresses saturated with shades of pink, accented by fine details such as peplum flares and of course, Chinese pankou knot buttons.
For those looking to splurge a little more on their Lunar Chinese New Year ensembles this year, Malaysian coutourier Brian Khoo is the one to look out for. Tapping into the regal essence of the Wood Dragon as per 2024’s Chinese zodiac intermingled, his collection prominently features the use of Chinoiserie dragon motifs and florals interspersed on jewel-tone fabrics for radiance that are truly apropos for the festivities, translating into pieces such as a boxy-cut asymmetric men’s shirt, and a women’s sleeveless cheongsam top. As for evening wear, turn to the collection’s devastatingly intricate embroidered catsuit, or the showstopping bridal gown featuring a golden dragon back panel, to best personify unbridled abundance.
For over 24 years, Khoon Hoi has dressed just about every Malaysian celebrity and socialite in high society from recent memory. That feat doesn’t come about by a chance alignment of the stars, especially considering his aptitude for design and meticulous attention to detail. For 2024, his diffusion label, Khoon Hoi Gold, builds upon that success for its Lunar Chinese New Year offerings. Core pieces include an ice blue qipao with puff sleeves tailored from a peony brocade fabric, and a relaxed jade kaftan set made of chiffon contrasted by velvet orange floral patch designs.
Versatility is key when it comes to the longevity of a garment, and YULEZA’s Lunar Chinese New Year collection bears that one virtue in generous consideration. Contemporary, clean lines punctuated by intricate traditional details by way of pieces such as a brocade halter top paired with a matching pencil skirt, and a roomy Tang jacket made of silk Duchess Satin, mean that each item can be worn as a set for the celebratory festivities, or taken apart as separates and incorporated into more subdued, day-to-day ensembles.
Opting for a more demure approach to its Lunar Chinese New Year designs this year, INNAI Red proposes a palette of soft pastels to accompany this year’s celebratory occasion. Taking after the gentle grace of the willow tree, a frequent motif found in traditional Chinese art, the aptly dubbed Willow collection introduces qipao sets and dresses underlined with traditional Oriental details and bucolic florals. Playful flourishes are also found by way of shorts featuring an oversized bow detail.
Malaysian designer Shaofen has made clean, contemporary tailoring intermingled with a deft eye for contrast in textures and proportions the bedrock of her career. Naturally, much of that resonates throughout her inaugural Lunar Chinese New Year collection, which comprises traditional silhouettes that have been reworked for a more modern pace of life. Sleek likes abound, pieces like the Luna Halterneck Top featuring panko button details with matching shorts in metallic silver are sure to endure well beyond the festive period.
A bold new year calls for a bold new statement, and you’ll find that in Cassey Gan’s Lunar Chinese New Year collection for 2024. Instead of subdued monochromatic combinations, an explosive smorgasbord of varying prints, patterns, and textures makes each piece a truly distinctive addition to every festive ensemble. This is especially true of two cheongsam dresses that have been deliberately cut to offer a more relaxed and casual fit for those who enjoy the garment’s shapely proportions, but enjoy the added convenience of mobility.
An essential wardrobe staple in every Chinese woman’s sartorial armory is a well-fitted qipao or cheongsam. Beloved for its figure-hugging lines, it is one of the few silhouettes capable of elevating the contours of its wearer with effortless ease. With that in mind, those looking to add this timeless design to their wardrobe will be best served with designs from Luna by Dreamscaped. Specialising in the qipao, their range includes variations on the theme in terms of hem length and fabric design, ensuring that every woman will find just the right fit for the right occasion.
Hassle-free occasionwear may sound like an oxymoron, but that is exactly what Florette The Label offers. Touting themselves as being the first local brand to offer iron-free, wrinkle-free wrap skirts, their Blissful Tidings Chinese New Year collection takes after that same commitment to practicality in terms of style and garment maintenance. Standouts such as a pastel top finished with a Mandarin collar and lace inserts, as well as a belted dress made of brocade with Chinese panko knot button detail, are sure to steal breaths at every soiree for the season.
Much of the cultural apparel that we now reserve solely for festive occasions was derived from once humdrum daywear worn by generations prior. Despite how many of these ornate styles have fallen out of fashion among modern consumers, contemporary labels such as Eightiin Fashion have been hard at work to translate some of these designs into more current interpretations, by simplifying lines and tweaking dimensions. Here, you’ll find such wonders as the cheongsam reinterpreted into a cropped top and short set, or a loose-fitted men’s shirt with Chinese panko knot buttons and a Mandarin collar, which can be styled up or down depending on the hour.
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