The Vietnamese are very stylish. In this post, we introduce several of our favourite natively-Vietnamese fashion brands and stores — especially those that have good quality and are affordable.
If you are traveling in Vietnam, you’ll notice plenty of name-brand clothes and shoes for sale on the street which are internationally branded but made in Vietnam, such as Adidas, Nike, the Northface, Merrells, and more [read more here]. Here, we focus instead on proudly Vietnamese brands that you’ve never heard-of (but may actually be wearing).
There are three reasons to highlight these brands:
- Quality and good value: these brands are often 1/2 the price of an equivalent name-brand garment in the West.
- Same clothes but different label: many of these brands make private-label items for big Western brands (for example, VTEC makes a lot of Nike shoes).
- Future growth: we predict at least one of these will become a globally-recognized brand.
Imagine buying Uniqlo clothes ten years before it came to dominate foreign markets — we are convinced that at least one of these brands will likewise rise to internationally prominence, even though they are almost entirely unknown outside of Vietnam (for now).
M2 – the TJ Maxx/Marshalls of Vietnam
We begin this post not with a specific brand but a wonderful Hanoi store that offers an amazing variety of discount fashion items — like the TJ Maxx or Marshalls or Winners of Vietnam, but nicer. At M2, you’ll discover a huge range of impressive and unique Vietnamese brands (albeit sometimes cringey) — together, they tell a great story about the quality, design, and variety of Vietnam’s fashion-output.
We absolutely love M2 — it has so many unique and cheap items, some of which are familiar name brands, some of which are one-time boutique brands which no longer exist. The prices are the best part: they are at least 40%-lower than what you’d expect elsewhere in Vietnam. Plus, they have clothing sizes that are suitable for big Westerners (which can be difficult to find in Vietnam).
What we don’t understand is how is M2 sourcing its wonderful and sometimes random clothes –Is it buying en-masse from last-year’s excess inventory? Is it manufacturing private-label clothes for foreign brands that have too much inventory and/or go bankrupt? Does it make clothes and then flip the rejects? We don’t know, but we love the business model.
Our only complaint about M2 is its fickleness — we often find garments and brands that we really like, only for them to quickly disappear thereafter. Therefore, if you find a style or brand that you like at M2, stock-up on several items, because the opportunity may never exist again.
Biti’s Footwear – Cheap and Durable
Pronounced like bee tee with a hard e (not like bity’s)
Biti’s is a famous Vietnamese footwear brand that is known for producing comfortable, affordable, and stylish shoes, especially casual-wear. The brand has a long history in Vietnam, having been in business for over 39 years.
In the past (late 90s), Biti’s was the like the only footwear brand in Vietnam, and they were beloved nationally. Literally everyone had a Biti’s shoe, often the exact same item — but they were so ugly, but high quality.
Today, people still think they are good mid-quality, but will all the diversity of styles that is normally expected of modern brands — high-class sports shoes, fashion women’s shoes, leather shoes, canvas shoes, EVA foam sandals, and indoor shoes. We love them: comfortable and affordable and stylish. To us, they remind us of New Balance or Brooks.
Biti’s is also a major supplier for Western-brands — there is a chance you’ve actually worn a Biti’s show under a different label. The company has exported its products to 40 countries around the world, including Italy, France, the UK, the US, Russia, Japan, South America, Mexico, and Cambodia.
If you are shopping in Vietnam, you recommend loading-up on several pairs of Biti’s shoes.
Canifa – Timeless and Inoffensive Style
Canifa is a popular fashion-brand based in Vietnam that started in 1997 with simple, cotton-based, good quality clothing that was considered somewhat ugly, particularly its knitwear. As Vietnam’s economy and consumerism grew, Canifa hired more designers and became very popular throughout the country.
Its style is similar to that of “Old Navy”, with simple, timeless designs that are high quality and have considerable longevity.
Canifa is also experimenting with with a foray in hip-hop and edgy style with a sub-brand called “Canifa Z”. This reflects a broader cultural shift away from stylistic-decency and towards a new inner-city Amercan aesthetics.
Canifa’s clothing is quite expensive for Vietnamese people, with a price-tag of approximately 1,000,000 VND (40-50 USD) per piece. But, this is reasonable for tourists from high-income countries, especially due to the clothing’s high-quality.
Viettien (VTEC) – Nike’s Vietnamese Supplier
VTEC is a publicly traded company on Vietnamese stock exchanges that was founded in 1977. The company produces clothing and shoes, as well as sewing machines used in the garment industry.
VTEC is a contract manufacturer for major brands such as Nike, Calvin Klein and Sketchers , and its products are sold in over 20 countries worldwide. The company operates a franchise model for its stores, which also sell products from other brands (like Nike).
Originally, VTEC was more synonymous with male office attire and uniforms. However, after becoming a major producer for brands like Nike and Sketcher, they increasingly make hip and sporty casual-wear and street-wear
JUNO has been in operation since 2005 and has established itself as a leading shoe and accessories fashion brand in the country, with a wide distribution in 96 retail locations.
JUNO is known for its affordable prices, elegant designs, and high-quality products that meet international standards, such as ISO 9001 for slip resistance, durability and traction.
They have a variety of specialty collections that will delight female fashionistas, but without breaking the budget. Whole outfits cost only 500k to 1,000k VND.
May 10 is a 75-year-old Vietnamese fashion brand that was originally a state-run company which produced uniforms. Their name betrays their command-and-control origin story: “May” simply means “apparel”, and “10” is likely a reference to a company ID-number or street address.
May 10 has since become a private company and now produces men’s (and women’s) office clothing for both formal and casual environments. It is attempting a pivot towards more casual clothing, but thus far doesn’t seem to be very successful. What they lack in fashion-fanfare they make-up for in quality — their garments are known to last forever!
The company’s largest product-line is its garments for export, either as a white-label supplier or private-label apparel for foreign brands. Its strength as a manufacturer far exceeds it retail operations (which seem to be contracting across Vietnam).
ELISE – Elegant Vietnamese Fashion Brand
ELISE is a famous fashion brand in Vietnam with millions of loyal customers. It makes office fashion, streetwear, professional garb, as well as stylish uniforms for some of Vietnam’s top companies (SCB, SSI and Petrosetco Petroleum)
The brand has over 10 years of experience in designing and delivering high fashion products, and is known for its more than 2,000 pioneering and creative designs that always keep up with the latest trends and styles.
ELISE is a high-end fashion brand that works with leading fashion partners around the world to produce high-quality products that meet international standards.
Wephobia – Up-and-Coming Fashion Brand
Wephobia is a small, independent women’s fashion brand that is not very well known (even within Vietnam), but is on the rise in the Vietnamese fashion world. Keep it on your radar if you are visiting Vietnam and like more boutique fashion from quality, independent designers.
The elegant outfits, coats and dresses sell for approximately $70 USD, which is a pretty good deal!
Wephobia clothing are elegant and classically ladylike — with aspirations to be slightly higher-end. The brand is best known for its shirts, suits, and coats, and which claim to “empower” young women (whatever that means). It has classic Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter collections, but also offers a range of designs for specific holidays.
Phuong My – The Vietnamese Louis Vuitton
Phuong My is like the Louis Vuitton of Vietnam: high-fashion for Vietnam’s rich and famous, whose garments are more-likely to be seen as one-time camera-bait for some high-society social function, rather than clothing worn by normal people doing normal business.
The brainchild of the brand is fashion designer Tran Phuong My, born in 1988 in Ho Chi Minh City. She studied at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. She has worked as a designer and stylist for fashion magazines such as Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, and Vogue.
In a rare reversal of design and sourcing, Phuong My sources its materials from select partners in Paris, Milan, Hong Kong, and Tokyo.
If you’ve ever dreamt of wearing an exquisitely designed high-end garment, but can’t justify the exorbitant price-tag, then check-out Phuong My, with its slightly-less ridiculous prices.