New Straits Times: The appeal of traditional wear

He bridges the traditional with the modern so customers don't see these clothes as outdated.

"A cheongsam, for example, is fitted and quite frankly, hard to wear daily," he says. "So I tweak the cutting and silhouette, and add exaggerated sleeves or pleated cape. It looks modern. But at the core of it, it's still a cheongsam," he says.

He says Malays are more appreciative of their traditional wear, partly because baju kurung and kebaya are more wearable daily. "The fabric, cut and ease of movement help Malay women adopt the baju kurung in their daily wear with ease."

Kebaya is something that's close to his heart. His late grandmother stitched her own kebaya by hand and as a child, Khoon Hooi looked at her skills with amazement.

"I am very fond of the kebaya because of both its beauty and the sentimental value it has in my life story," he says.

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