Malaysian brands are blooming faster than hibiscuses these days. A few brands included in this wave of retail growth have got their direction and identity down — like Aaliyah ‘Down’, not Jay Sean vibes. But no judgement if you dig it… for now.

I can’t list all the brands that I admire right now (because then you won’t come back for more), so here are 4 homegrown brands that y’all should be keeping up with if you aren’t already.

1. Velvet Vanity Cosmetics

The brand’s aesthetic is sharp, memorable and playful — all at once — and translates across everything from its packaging to its lookbooks to content on social media.

What I like about Velvet Vanity is that it takes risks. When we think of cosmetics, the immediate thought of who its audience is becomes: women. But in the larger — and more socially conscious picture — we know that there are men who love wearing makeup just as much as we do, and Velvet Vanity does not shy away from including them in its campaigns too.

 

Brand identity aside, the names of its products is what I live for. ‘Shook’, ‘Glo With the Flo’, ‘Peach Perfect’, ‘Mr. West’, ‘Cheap Thrills’ — simple but enough to be embedded in your mind. Its order boxes have ‘Treat Yoself’ written across it and that’s the kind of reminder every customer needs after they’ve shopped. And y’all should ‘cos everything is under RM60.

Bottomline is: The founder, Adlina Nadirah, has a vision, and y’all gotta trust it.

Check it out here: @shopvelvetvanity

2. The BIG Group

I remember when Ben’s Independent Grocer (B.I.G) introduced itself to the market; it left many of us in awe of its prettiness. There was a lot of giggling because of its heavy use of puns on its signages and in captions — like “There’s no problem when there’s masala (chai)”. And of course, the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ because it carried beautifully packaged products. Like, I have had so many instances of shopping at B.I.G and wanting to buy something just because it looked good. Don’t judge me. You’ve probably done it too.

 

Ultimately though, I think many of us were stunned at the distance this team was willing to go to create an experience for grocery shopping. We then saw the expansion of the BIG Group which included bars, restaurants, cafes, bakeries, roasters — you name it, BIG’s probably working on it — all of which received the same treatment and attention to detail as B.I.G had, which meant that success was guaranteed.

And thanks to its consistent aesthetic and brand voice, it’s become easier to identify whether or not an establishment is under the BIG umbrella.

Keep up with the BIG Group here.

3. Against Lab

I find that many homegrown streetwear brands are uninspiring and lazy. Many designs either replicate a popular silhouette or print a paraphrased copy of a popular statement (hello anything Supreme touches). But one brand that does stick out though, is Against Lab. Everything from its well-executed lookbooks to apparels shows that effort was put into it.

When it comes to advertising, I appreciate that it does things organically; pasting photos of its lookbooks across streets that have high traffic (hello Bangsar) and positions itself in places that are relevant to its audience — which not only makes for great #OOTD props, but now whenever you (if you’re familiar with the brand) see a fashion editorial, you can almost immediately think to yourself that Against Lab was behind it.

 

Ultimately though, its products are at the forefront. No gimmicks, no sensationalism, just original thought. Against Lab also caught the attention of Hypebeast last year — it’s not a big deal, it’s just the biggest media brand that validates a brand’s existence and assures the people behind it that they’re on the right path. It’s totally chill.

Follow Against Lab here.

 4. Mossery

My fellow stationery hoarders will be with me on this: if a cover of a journal/planner has bright gradients, polka dots, or stripes and is complemented with calligraphy, we know it’s Mossery’s. There’s no argument.

 

Mossery produces the essentials for every creative; notebooks (in both pocket and medium sizes), planners, sketchbooks, pens washi tapes… alright, the latter is not an essential but it’s pretty to have. The brand also gives the option of personalising your planner with your name — use your given name or one of a person you wish you were like (mine would be Beyoncé). Go wild.

Keep up with Mossery here.