Sunday, November 1, 2009

An updated take on menswear shopping in Malaysia

With some new observations mall-wise, shopping for men's clothes in KL isn't such a pain after all..

1. Cotton On

As mentioned in my earlier post, I discovered this label while holidaying in Australia a month ago. I was delighted when I entered its shop in Melbourne, because it was one of the few Australian labels that offers decent clothes at high street prices.
When I first found out that they were opening branches in Malaysia, the sales assistant told me that it was going to be in Pavilion and Sunway Pyramid. Further research on the internet, however, indicates that a branch is going to be opened in 1 Utama as well. Tongue in Chic reports that the 1 Utama branch would have opened on 24th October, followed by the Sunway Pyramid branch on 30th October just two days ago.
I was in Pavilion a week ago, partly to take a look at this new store. My initial observations were that
  • the store display was more reminiscent of a Giordano or Body Glove store than Zara or Top Man.
  • The shop seemed rather cramped for space, including the menswear section- female accessories and footwear were creeping into the menswear area of the shop. Considering the lack of square footage for the menswear, it is not surprising that the selection was also slightly lacking.
  • The buyers must have looked into the average Malaysian man's love of the graphic tee, as the variety of these were clearly not lacking. In comparison, the selection of short and long sleeve shirts were rather limited- the ones I tried on in Melbourne weren't on display here.
  • Like the Aussie store, the quintessential wife-beaters (singlets) abound in various colours, but I wonder if Malaysians were willing to transcend the stigma attached to the lowly singlet and embrace it as a streetwear standard. Ditto white plimsolls.
  • There were some canvas footwear available such as the slip-ons and lace-ups. I think I also saw the white canvas boat shoe. I don't think they brought in the whole selection, though.
  • Those ultra-skinny ankle-hugging jeans and skinny shorts popular in Oz this season are available at RM150 and Rm100, respectively (or thereabouts, if I remember correctly).
In short, Cotton On is a great place to obtain Aussie-style streetwear basics at a reasonable price (lower than Australian prices, in fact) albeit the no-frills display and cramped stock arrangements. In time, my minor gripes would have been sorted as they establish themselves in Malaysia.

2. Forever 21

I never knew that the Malaysian branches had menswear, until I entered the Pavilion branch. The last time I was in Forever 21 was to accompany a female friend years ago in the 1 Utama branch that only stocked women's clothing. Anyway, I was surprised by the decent selection of menswear available in the store ( insignificant when compared to the sheer volume of womenswear available, but still a sizable amount).
At first glance, they seemed like a smaller scale Top Man, offering casual, formal and sportswear. Design-wise, they are typically Caucasian in not being afraid of using colour, but being American the patterns and designs are more subdued and less fashion-centric than its European counterparts. A cross between Gap and Topman/Zara, perhaps.
Prices seem to be lower than other high street brands, but with similar design and quality. I didn't have enough time to browse the place, but I definitely would come back for a closer look.

3. No-show socks
While some Malaysian clothing labels cannot be depended upon for keeping up to date with global menswear trends, we have a surprisingly good selection to choose from when it comes to accessories. A visit to any men's jocks and socks section will explain it all.
A few days ago at Jusco, I was browsing through that section and this is what I bought:

I am sure by now that guys in shorts and sneakers are familiar with the sporty no-show socks pictured in the upper half of the photo. However, I was mighty surprised to see the ones pictured in the bottom half being manufactured locally. In the height of the Thom Browne 'sockless' trend, I have been reading about them in American blogs, about them being sold in American establishments. How long have they been selling these babies here?
For those who are curious, the odd-looking black thingies pictured in the bottom half of the photo are no-show socks too. They are worn to completely hide the fact that you are wearing socks at all. While some may wonder, doesn't the blue pair of socks do the job already? The answer is yes, but only for those wearing sneakers. For those meaning to appear "sockless" in a pair of oxfords, loafers, or the currently in trend deck shoes, some traces of blue pair of socks will still be awkwardly visible. In comparison for the black no-show ones, they only cover the foot slightly past the toes, allowing no trace of socks to be visible behind the shoe vamp.
Kudos to BUM Equipment for actually introducing this to the Malaysian public.

4. The Topman Half Price Sale genuine. I got a canvas bag, a pair of coated denim and a pair of tailored shorts - all at half price or less. Nonetheless, it helps to be of a slightly larger built and have more options from the larger sizes. Definitely one of the noteworthy sales to look out for.


  1. woot! topman sale! imma running to 1utama this weekend... :P

    well i think the no-show socks has been in the malaysian market for a while now, i've seen them all across times square, sg wang and even at the night markets. :)

    and forever21 sells men fashion??! woot! now that's news to me too! :D

  2. you may wanna run to top man fast cos i dont know whether the sale is still on..i was there about week ago :\

    hmm, even those 'ultra' no show ones? altho i havent been to times sq and sg wang for some time now..

    abt forever 21, yup, what a revelation :)