Women shoppers can be a tad fussy when it comes to shopping for sarees during Deepavali. In Malaysia, most women wear sarees on special occasions or for festivals.
For this reason, customers are particularly careful about the colour, embroidery, type of material and style of the sarees they purchase, observes Klang textile shop Chennai Silk House’s operational manager Kotteeswaran Thanasekaran, 25.
“Most of our customers prefer classic sarees that can be worn for years and passed down through generations. Unlike in India, Malaysian saree wearers do not follow movie trends, and instead prefer new or custom-made designs,” says Kotteeswaran.
He explains that women mostly choose fashion over comfort: they want to look their best for a specific reception or event for the festive season.
“For Deepavali, sarees of silk, silk cotton, chiffon, and polyester-cotton in bright colours of red, dark green, dark pink, dark blue are most popular among our patrons. Linen silk is also increasingly in demand in recent years due to Malaysia’s tropical climate. Pastel shades are also getting more popular,” adds Kotteeswaran.
Kotteeswaran and his team go to India four times a year and meets with roughly 80 suppliers to get the latest designs that are trending in the market.
“We bring in about 100,000 sarees each year from different parts of India; from Kolkata to Bhubaneswar all the way to Kanchipuram and Mysore,” he says.
Typically, he says, families start their Deepavali clothes shopping as early as August and typically spend RM800 to RM2,000. Sarees can cost anywhere from RM 20 for a printed polyester saree t0 RM1,800 for handloom silk sarees.
Kaymalatha Subramaniam, who sells sarees on her Instagram page, Rooted in Tradition, agrees.
“Malaysians are fussy saree shoppers but recent trends show a preference for silk and silk-cotton sarees as these material are soft and lustrous. Linen is also growing in popularity as the material makes for easy wearing,” says Kaymalatha, who has been running her online business since 2012.
She sources for sarees from various places in India like Madhya Pradesh, Chettinad, Kolkata, and Kanchipuram to cater to customers’ needs.
“My customers are always on the lookout for designs that look unique. They don’t mind forking out extra money for one-of-a-kind handloom sarees. Vivid colours like green, red, yellow, and pink are generally the colours people opt for Deepavali.
Kotteeswaran says his clientele prefer specific motif designs like peacock as well as floral designs. Lotus, hibiscus, jasmine, and rose are very much sought-after by customers during Deepavali.
There is also a growing trend for comfortable Indian tops like kurtis, salwar kameez, Anarkali suits and tunics. Vaitheswary Ramanathan, who sells Indian clothing on her Instagram page, cottonspice_boutique, has received large orders for cotton tops.
“For women, pastel shades are selling like hotcakes. For men, printed and woven kurtas are a popular choice. Consumers are willing to spend if the designs are eye-catching, reasonably priced and comfortable.”
Also read: Find out why Deepavali shopping is a cherished family tradition.