9 Asian Knitwear Brands You Should Have On Your Radar

Image courtesy of Rod Malanao

With rainy season approaching, stay cozy indoors with chunky sweaters and form-fitting pieces.

With space-dyed knits making their way from the runway to wardrobes (à la Eckhaus Latta and Missoni), it’s safe to say that knitwear and crochet are definitely having a moment, especially in the age of slow fashion. In the past two years, knitters took to the craft as a form of meditation—a slew of rhythmic movements that bring about an intimate connection to the garments made. As we reach peak rainy season in the Philippines, let snug knitwear and handcrafted crochet knits help you stay cozy and bring joy to the otherwise gloomy weather.

From comfortable chunky sweaters to form-fitting pieces that add a certain oomph to your outfit, these prolific Asian designers take knitwear to the next level, making this cold weather go-to an all-season staple. Below, get to know 11 Asian designers making a case for modern and sophisticated silhouettes through the art of knitwear. 

Rod Malanao, Philippines

Image courtesy of Rod Malanao
Image courtesy of Rod Malanao

Rod Malanao’s series of Knit Studies is a continuous and evolving study of self-embodying change through rich neon hues and figure-hugging garments. These aren’t your typical chunky knits either. By understanding the human body and shapes, Malanao’s delicate stretchy fabrics naturally adjust to their wearer like second skin. Fluid yet comforting, his fluorescent pieces accentuate one’s curves through abstract cut-outs. The young Filipino designer stretches the intricate textiles to highlight the spaces in-between—an homage to the body in its purest form. 

Ana La O’, Philippines

Soon it will be spring again Corset, worn by Iana Griner. Photographer – Iana Griner. Model – Iana Griner
Dilation Tee, worn by Anna Buquid. Photographer – Iana Griner. Model – Anna Buquid

Versatile, experimental, and relaxed describe Ana La O’s knitwear capsule. Focusing on detailed craftsmanship, the brand brings about an aesthetic of understated sophistication. With thoughtfully-considered textiles, each piece works as a multifaceted wardrobe foundation. In cream tones reminiscent of being within a cloud, the label’s intellectual take on pared-back style and nonchalant minimalism breathes new life into knitwear classics. 

The collection features a single raw cotton yarn that entails the wabi-sabi philosophy of discovering the beauty in imperfection. By reworking mistakes as one-off styles called “rewrites,” the Filipino designer highlights the adaptability in both her process and these one-of-a-kind garments. Each dreamy piece is created locally and sheds light on HABI Philippine Textile Council’s locally spun raw cotton yarn.

Ilyang Ilyang, Philippines

Photo by Ahui
Photo by Owen Wong

Is crochet-core here yet? Two-toned vests with mismatched pockets to hold groceries, a fiercely red top hat, wild glove bags, and eccentric balaclavas, Manila-based Ilyang Ilyang is a force to be reckoned with when equipped with her crochet set. Designer Daphne Chao redefines traditional knitwear by interweaving unapologetic verve with spur-of-the-moment yet creatively executed designs. Each piece—from a crocheted polo and shorts set to a tissue box holder— updates the raw potential of the discipline by reviving an approachable and experimental style to crocheting. 

Rui Zhou, New York

Image courtesy of Rui Zhou
Image courtesy of Rui Zhou

Rui Zhou treats knitwear as her own personal diary. An endless exploration of the interaction between the body and garments, the designer’s poetic fabric manipulation embraces all genders and body types. By artfully blending everyday garments with her own experiences, Zhou opens a line of communication between her and the wearer through her carefully-crafted pieces. By incorporating fragile and delicate elements to her pieces, the label highlights the sheer originality of one’s body as a canvas—a precious vehicle in understanding one’s deepest emotions and signature aesthetic.

YanYan, Hong Kong

Image courtesy of YanYan
Image courtesy of YanYan

Led by designers Phyllis Chan and Suzzie Chung, YanYan is a knitwear line that means “everyone” in Cantonese. A reference to the longtime friendship between the two and a reflection of daily life in Hong Kong, the brand brings to light the allure of nostalgia through cheery and invigorating garments accented with Chinese hand-embroidered button knots and vivid stripes. Inspired by old photographs of their grandmothers and their cultural heritage, the brand redefines traditional clothing, while at the same time paying tribute to cultural staples.  Keeping sentimentality at the core of their designs, the creative duo brings a unique and design-driven edge to knitwear. 

MANDKHAI, Mongolia

Image courtesy of Mandkhai
Image courtesy of Mandkhai

MANDKHAI challenges the conventional styles of these luxe garments with high neck knits with hand-embroidered florals or fringed sweaters. Founded by Mongolian designer Mandkhai Jargalsaikhan, whose family set up the first cashmere factory in the country, MANDKHAI continues the family’s legacy of sourcing only locally-made cashmere. By highlighting transparency and sustainable practices, the eponymous label MANDKHAI embodies a new way of thinking, an innovative model, and a sincere passion. 

Margn, India

Fall-Winter 2022 Campaign. Image courtesy of Margn

An ode to the unconventional and the fringes of society, Margn was created with human-centered design and sustainability at its core. Exploring notions of masculinity and identity, their menswear collections are composed of clean lines, utilitarian details, and tailored attire with an emphasis on symbolic patterns. Artisanal craftsmanship shines through each piece, paying tribute to their ancestors in India. Their hand-knit garments are developed by an all-female community residing in Kullu, India. Through carefully crafted pieces, Margn redefines sustainable luxury through one-of-a-kind textiles. 

Rescha, India

Image courtesy of Rescha

From a gamcha design constructed through French intarsia to knitted dresses inspired by French lace technique and traditional Indian outfits, Rescha is an intermingling of two cultures. An homage to multiculturalism embodied by playful and joy-inducing garments, each collection is a radiant feast for the senses. Using yarns exclusively made from deadstock and sustainable fibers, fabrics become the centerpiece of each line, carefully crafted with the texture, movement, and light kept in mind throughout the design process. 

Khajoor Studio, India

Image courtesy of Khajoor Studio
Image courtesy of Khajoor Studio

Chunky knitwear is all the rage and artisanal luxury brand Khajoor Studio proves it. From roll-neck sweaters to crochet pairings in natural lahauli wool, each collection entails a refreshing spin on the vintage aesthetic in earthy tones. By incorporating time-honored craft techniques from India, Jaipur-based Khajoor Studio connects tradition with modernity. Named after the Hindi word for a date palm tree, the brand celebrates the communities behind every collection by empowering and supporting local cotton farmers and artisans. 

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