The fashion and beauty scene in the country is booming. Aznim Ruhana Md Yusup picks the ones to look out for this year

1. PROJECT WOODWORKS

The company’s aim to make watches out of wood is two-fold — it wants to utilise unused or waste wood and it wants to honour co-founder Izac’s lost family business in the wood furniture industry. The watches are light in weight and minimalistic in design.

2. BAJU BY SHARINA

Sharina Shahrin is a visual artist first, clothing designer second. Baju by Sharina is a project that she started with her mum, using the loose batik fabric that some women wear as sarung at home, and making it into tops. So far so easy, but her strength in picking interesting patterns and colours makes the brand one to look out for.

3. DIDA

Dida rises above other matte liquid lipstick in wand form with its colours, artful packaging and marketing. It’s rounding off to become a more comprehensive cosmetics brand with the release of liquid eyeliner On Fleek, while a blusher and eyeshadow palette will follow in 2017

4. MOTO GUO

In 2016, Moto Guo’s quirky humour and designs saw his namesake label shortlisted for the LVMH Prize and on the catwalks of Milan. He will show in Milan again this year, being one of three handpicked labels sponsored by Armani. “I hope that it will add momentum to their career, as it did to mine,” says Giorgio Armani.

5. ZAIMI ZULKAFLI

Bespoke dressing for local celebrities means treading the line between modesty and feminine sexiness. Then there’s putting out something so unusual that it becomes the talk of the town. But Zaimi Zulkafli isn’t afraid of taking on the challenge. His growing list of clients includes Nana Mahazan, Neelofa and Scha Alyahya.

6. ANA ABU

In just a short time, Ana Abu’s eponymous label has established itself with a signature look — oversized silhouette, muted colours and preference for androgynous design. She recently ventured into footwear, and with the showroom relocation to Bangsar, it looks set for bigger and brighter things.

7. DAYA BOTANICA

Marketing in the local skincare industry would have us believe that the pinnacle of beauty is a complexion akin to whitewash paint. But Daya Botanica begs to differ, emphasising instead on the benefits of natural, plant-based products. Its sugar scrubs and moisturisers look promising, and the lingering scents of jasmine and citrus call out for more.

8. ECLIPSE

The death of Eclipse founder Sonny San last October shocked the local fashion fraternity. But his design team has vowed to continue with the ready-to-wear brand that San started 20 years ago. It will be interesting to see the direction Eclipse takes this year.

9. THAVIA

Thavia’s current offering of voluminous dresses and bell bottom trousers pays heed to a style that is glamorous yet understated, thanks to its use of a more subdued palette. The garments are available at FashionValet.com and Isetan. Expect a more vibrant 2017 for the brand.

10. MAN CHIEN

As a designer, Man Chien straddles between making art and making fashion. She slaps paint on fabric, and uses her fingers to create unique textures. But as evidenced in 2016’s Allegory of the Cave II collection, her garments have become more than just a blank canvas for her art. Her quiet design evolution will be one to look out for this year.

11. LULU LULU

Founder Azreen Zaharin admits to being a fabric hoarder, but that’s good news for the rest of us because she uses them to make some of the prettiest bags. From vintage songket to Japanese linen and cool cotton print, Azreen’s handmade Lulu Lulu is a charming addition to any outfit.

12. NAZIFI NASRI

Nazifi Nasri launched his namesake brand in 2014 to make sandals for men, using a mix of leather and synthetics. He’s still making men’s sandals, but this year sees him releasing backless pointy mules for women with a round-shaped wooden heel. It’s an interesting design direction, somewhat in the spirit of Mansur Gavriel’s cute ugly shoes.

13. DUCK

We’d written about how there is a tudung brand for every letter in the alphabet but none thrives like dUCk. From scarves to bags and stationery and a standalone store in Pavilion KL, dUCk’s popularity is positively cult-ish. Expect more amazing prints and collaborations this year.

14. GOOD PAIR SOCKS

Weather-wise, socks aren’t exactly necessary in the country. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a sizable market for foot coverings. Good Pair Socks, established in 2014, has a whole lot of colour and whimsy. It’s enough to make you want to wear socks, charmingly executed by co-founder Feixief K.

15. EZZATI AMIRA

Designer Ezzati Amira’s well-honed eye for prints and attention to detail have served her well but her reach has always been somewhat limited. But her Spring/Summer 2017 collection — a personal favourite — will launch this month. Along with a showroom and office in Bangsar, 2017 could be a turning point for the brand.

16. NELISSA HILMAN

Three years ago, the product range of Nelissa Hilman’s namesake shoe label consisted of simple flats. But nowadays she has enough range to fill a shop at Bangsar Village II. Granted, it’s a temporary space, but at the speed that she’s churning out heels, wedges and sandals, it doesn’t look like she’s running out of steam anytime soon.

17. PRODUCTHIEF

A black leather bag is a black leather bag, but Producthief is happy to throw in a bit of humour into its wares. Handmade and embossed with what the customer desires, Producthief is the bag maker for KL’s fashion crowd looking for a bit of edginess into their #OOTD.