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6 East Malaysian fashion and jewellery brands to have on your radar

Borneo born-and-bred

Text: Kelly Lim

Image: Wynka
Image: Bowerhaus

In the spirit of Merdeka, these are the Sabahan and Sarawakian fashion and jewellery brands you need to know about

Fashion week over in East Malaysia may not be as large-scale or popular as the one here in Kuala Lumpur, but the region's rich cultural diversity and tradition of handicrafts offer plenty of inspiration for designs that push the boundaries of both fashion and heritage.

Whether you're looking for wardrobe staples with a bit of whimsy or unique jewellery that reflect Borneo's natural beauty, here are our picks of local favourites from the other side of the country: 

Wynka 

Wynka is all about womanhood. Each collection of the Borneo-based clothing brand is a celebration of the myriad types of femininity—from the buoyant, princess silhouettes of their SS21 collection to their latest self love-themed drop, which introduces their whimsical shapes and intricately embroidered prints into wardrobe essentials. The 'Self Love' collection is also a result of their desire to reduce waste, as each piece is crafted out of excess fabrics left over in the atelier. 

Website | Instagram 

RoaSkye

Born out of a stroke of serendipity, RoaSkye is a made-to-measure fashion brand known for its eye-catching prints and joy-inducing colours. Each design is hand-cut from limited stocks of hand-picked fabrics under a zero-waste philosophy to give one-of-a-kind outfits. Think bold, playful dresses and jumpsuits in feminine silhouettes guaranteed to turn heads. 

Website | Instagram 

Bowerhaus

Co-founded by sisters Shen-Tel Lee and Elizabeth Lee-Yong, jewellery label Bowerhaus offers accessories packed with personality that span signature pearl staples to bejewelled pieces decked out in colour and gemstones. Their debut collection 'Hello' was inspired by their father's vintage coins and mother's pearls to deliver jewellery that spoke of old-world charm and understated confidence––characteristics that are now hallmarks of the made-in-Malaysia brand. For those in Kuala Lumpur, Bowerhaus' latest collections can also be found at The Playground Borneo located in Publika and Gardens Mall. 

Website | Instagram

KeithSim

Designer Keith Sim's namesake label translates his unique artistic instinct and Malaysian-Chinese heritage into sophisticated designs focused on fashion empowerment. The Sarawakian creative has been making waves in the local scene since bursting into the Borneo industry, and winning the title of 'Best Designer of 2019' during fashion week. Last year, the brand switched gears to join the slow fashion movement and adopt a more ethical and environmentally-friendly method of creating clothes, birthing the 'SelfLove' collection to offer high-quality, long-lasting styles as a result.  

Website | Instagram

Sangon & Co

Find refined yet bold jewellery that is both affordable and minimal at Sangon & Co. Taking its name from one of Sarawak's indigenous languages Bidayuh to mean beautiful, the brand strives to share Borneo's beautiful nature and stories by "crafting lil' pieces of Borneo" into every design they create. Expect sophisticated ocean-themed ornaments that include mismatched earrings to beach babe chokers and their regal Permaisuri necklace seen above.

Website | Instagram

Neng Kho Razali

The Sarawakian turban designer made headlines last year for refashioning Grab delivery bags into school bags, pencil cases and purses for kids in need. But beyond that, she's also made headlines in the past for her fusion of contemporary and ethnic motifs into brightly coloured headwear and accessories. In 2019, the designer's collaboration with silk painting artist Narong Duan spawned a collection of garments to represent the importance of connectivity and community in life. 

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