For Vietnam, the textile and garment industry is one of its key industries, and Vietnam is amongst the top textile producing and apparel exporters in the world. In 2019, the industry’s export value of US$39 billion contributed to 16% of total GDP, and this was a year-on-year increase of over 8.3%. Moreover, clothing manufacturing was over 70% of that slice. As a result, Vietnam is rising as a strong contender to China with its low labour cost and multiple free trade agreements. Apart from manufacturing the world's big label clothes, Vietnam is also beginning to emerge as a fashion hub in its own right with homegrown designers helming the movement.
Take a trip to Ho Chi Minh City's central districts to understand the fashion renaissance bourgeoning. Lining the famous Dong Khoi street, of course one will find the grand old fashion houses like Louis Vuitton. Big European luxury brands continue to appeal to the quality and logo obsessed shoppers of Asia. If you persist in peering beyond this veneer, taking a tour deeper into the alleyways of the city, you will find boutiques to fit your budget, focussed on unique looks and style, from the street fashion popular with the cool Vietnamese young people to refined chic collections appropriate for office wear or evening looks.
Here are our top 8 fashion boutiques worth checking out in town.
1. Cong Tri
Designer Nguyen Cong Trai is considered one of the most influential Vietnamese fashion designers. Born and raised in Danang with eight siblings, Cong Tri attended Ho Chi Minh City University of Architecture, Faculty of Industrial Fine Arts and graduated in 2001. He burst into the industry in 2000 by winning 1st prize in the 'New Idea' category at Vietnam's Grand Prix. His brand CONG TRI is known for producing unique women's day and evening wear with fashion-forward designs with traditional hand-made techniques, with a particular emphasis on jewel and sequin embellishments.
CONG TRI was showcased at New York Fashion Week (NYFW) in 2019 for the first time - the NYFW’s official website wrote in the introduction about Tri, 'each of his collection is state-of-the-art and a fascinating story to be told'. CONG TRI is the go to brand for any stylish woman, and has been worn by many Vietnamese A-list celebrities. Most recently, Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson wore an off-the-shoulder gown designed by Cong Tri at the premiere of blockbuster 'Dune' at 2021 Toronto International Film Festival. Customers can shop at CONG TRI's three locations at the centre of Saigon, where off-the-rack options are available, or pieces can be custom made with 10 days lead time.
- 194 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, District 3, Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam
- 198 Le Thanh Ton, District 1, Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam
- 132 - 134 Dong Khoi Street - Hotel Continental Saigon, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
2. Moi Dien
Moi Dien is street fashion meets cutting edge design. Appealing to young Vietnamese not just because of its unique style, Moi Dien speaks their language, understanding the 'new' fashion has to be sustainable fashion for the younger gen.
Moi Dien is at the forefront of green fashion in Vietnam - leading the charge is Moi Dien's founder and designer Tom Tran. After graduating from Parsons School of Design in New York, Tom Tran took a leap of faith and returned to Vietnam to start his own label.
Moi Dien literally means 'mad lips' in Vietnamese, which is to be 'outspoken'. This is the embodiment of their brand culture. Tom and his team are not afraid to produce genderless-silhouettes, source deadstock fabric and materials, and rely on the digital rather than paper to produce information.
Starting from a small out of the way studio, Moi Dien, living their brand story, has grown from strength to strength. In 2019, Moi Dien was one of the 16 finalist in the London International Fashion Showcase. Tom is a young Vietnamese designer to watch. Visit the Moi Dien studio, now in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. Beware - Moi Dien is not for the fainthearted customer.
- 28 Tôn Thất Thiệp, Bến Nghé, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
3. Nosbyn Studio
Nosbyn is one of the most loved Vietnamese casual clothing brand, with many locations across Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Nosbyn specialises in what they call 'lifestyle' clothing and prefers not to see themselves as 'designer fashion' - they focus on everyday wearable clothing.
Created by Nancy Le after she returned home to Saigon from studying at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, Nosbyn fills the space in the market for everyday wear. Nancy noted that she could not find what she was looking for, 'something simple, beautiful, and affordable'.
Known to sell quality fabrics and outfits with subtle details, Nosbyn is a good place to shop for wardrobe staples - t-shirts, midi dresses, collared stops, neat skirts. Nosbyn is also one of the few Vietnamese casual clothes fashion brands to be stocked in the US in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Take a tour across Ho Chi Minh City and you will see plenty of women wearing Nosbyn's comfortable and accessible designs. Customers can shop the collection online and in stores, or search 'Nosbyn' at shopee.
- 228 Nguyen Trai, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
4. Peace United Street Wear
Peace United Street Warriorz or PUSW is street style brand with a great story. PUSW was founded in 2008 by Viet Max, a Vietnamese Hip Hop dancer, TV talent-show judge, video producer, illustrator, and artist.
As Hip Hop was taking over the world, Viet Max found himself immersed in the subculture and attracted to its values of social justice, peace, respect, self-worth, community, and having fun. Peace United was born to build a Hip Hop community in Vietnam, as well as an organise street art and cultural activities. Starting with selling t shirts, PUSW grew into creating a whole line of Hip Hop clothes taking inspiration from music videos and photos from different countries.
In the present day, PUSW is still very much synonymous with street style and a favourite amongst Vietnamese young people who are into the Hip Hop subculture. Men, women, and children styles are available at PUSW. Visit their shop in Saigon!
- 16A Lê Hồng Phong, District 1o, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
5. Gia Studios
For the woman looking for something different, elegant, timeless, there's only Gia Studios.
Gia Studios founded in 2018 by Vietnamese designer Lam Gia Khang who first discovered his love for fashion at eight when the tailoring tools in his mother's shop became his 'toys'. Coming from four generations of tailors, it is no wonder Lam's works are all about attention to detail.
A Saigon-inspired design, Gia Studios style is modern and complex, and appeals to the working woman with a strong personal sense of style. When asked by Vietcetera on the motivations for his collections, Lam said 'I don't want women to be beautiful for men, I want women to be beautiful for themselves'.
Lam was a runner-up in Vietnam Project Runway in 2013 and became Elle Designer of the Year in 2014 for his first label LAM GIA KHANG. For the more exclusive Gia Studios, for a period of time, Lam carried out a by-appointment-only concept at the Park Hyatt hotel, and now his flagship store is opened in the heart of Saigon.
- 19-21 Dong Khoi Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Metiseko was founded almost a decade ago by Florence Mussou and Erwan Perzo in Hoi An. Mussou brought her experience in textiles to complement Perzo’s passion for sustainability - making Metiseko one of Vietnam's first fashion boutiques to be committed to fair work conditions and eco-friendliness.
According to Metiseko's website, it is their unique textiles that makes them stand out from the crowd, 'We draw from inspiring Vietnamese landscapes and folk traditions to create original fabric designs that capture the essence of this enchanting country. From bright to subtle. From dreamy to frenetic'.
Metiseko is known for it's casual, comfortable style that appeals to both older and young people alike. Apart from clothing, Metiseko also produces accessories and homeware products tailored for a refine palette.
With a few stores across the heart of Saigon, be sure to pay a visit to Metiseko on your trip.
- Flagship: 101 Dong Khoi Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
7. Thuy Design House
An aesthetic that is daring, playful, and not afraid of colour, Thuy Design House brings together tradition and ingenuity. The brand is known for using traditional materials like Vietnamese silk and brocade, paired with intricate beading and embroidery work.
The dresses are often compared to pieces of art, looking like wearable paintings. It is no wonder as the the label's designer Thuy Nguyen is a painter who graduated from Hanoi Fine Art University.
Specialising in Ao Dai (the traditional dress of Vietnam), the brand manages to transcend expectations. While respecting the traditional feminine style of the ao dai, Thuy transforms them into ethereal things of beauty.
Thuy is for the woman who wants to wear art.
- 134 Dong Khoi Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
8. Coco Dressing Room
Although not strictly a fashion brand, Coco Dressing Room deserves a shout out for being one of the most innovative and outspoken fashion platforms in Vietnam. Coco Dressing Room sells pre-loved clothing from various international designers and local fashion stores. They mostly get their supply from people clearing out their wardrobe.
Thu Vu, founder and CEO of Coco Dressing Room is here to break the cycle of buy-and-throw-away fashion - Thu strongly believes that clothes should be worn beyond just one season. A graduate of RMIT with a Bachelor of Fashion Merchandise Management, fashionable and straight-talking, Thu is not afraid to voice her opinions. She is a huge advocate for changing our consumption habits, apart from walking the talk with Coco Dressing Room, Thu often speaks at panel discussions and fireside chats around Saigon and internationally.
Her message is getting through. Knowing her target audience, Coco Dressing Room runs pop-ups in cool, hip places across Ho Chi Minh City like L'usine and Le Cafe Des Stagiaires. At present, they have a permanent store in the city centre at The Joi Factory, an ideal place to pick out items and have a cup of coffee.
- 212/2B Nguyễn Trãi, Phường Nguyễn Cư Trinh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
- Price range: Low to mid-end
- Website: https://www.facebook.com/cocodressingroom/
- Instagram: @cocodressingroom
In no order of preference, these are our top 8 Vietnamese brands worth checking out! Although Vietnamese fashion is still its nascent stage, it is slowly and surely making its mark on the world. The list addresses all budgets and all types of clothing, whether you are in the market for high-end evening wear, a stunning ao dai, or edgy avant garde street wear, Ho Chi Minh City has got you covered.
If you are in Hanoi, do also check out visionary, sustainable brand Kilomet109 and functional workwear Ngo Thai Bao Loan. If you have more time in Saigon, these new brands, Lykke and Giulia Fashion House have just arrived and are making a splash on the scene, while Libé is a hot favourite among the youth.
The new generation of Vietnamese fashion pioneers are bold, cosmopolitan, and very often aware of the impact that fashion has on the environment. This potent combination means that we cannot wait to see what else they come up with.
Before you go out and about for a day of shopping, do check out our food guides for places to eat in Vietnam!