The Nyonya Kebaya is more than a traditional Malaysian costume; it is also a Peranakan form of art, regarded by many as a valued masterpiece to be treasured from one generation to the next.
The traditional Kebaya is a tight fitting blouse-dress often made from silk, Swiss cotton, or robia cotton, and paired with a batik or sarong. Similarly, todays Kebaya is also figure hugging, and usually made of India or China cotton, although most still prefer the higher grade Swiss Voile. Other features of a Kebaya include a fold-back collarless neck and front opening, as well as long sleeves with embroidered patterns.
The distinctive art of embroidering Nyonya Kebaya was considered an important skill for Nyonyas, women who descended from the British Straits Settlements of Malaya, to master. In particular, the ability to embroider one’s own Kebaya reflected a nyonya’s domestic capabilities and a good upbringing. In the past, some Peranakan women wore Nyonya Kebaya on a daily basis, while others wore the conventional attire only for special occasions. Today, many women adopt a more casual wear and therefore opt out of wearing the Kebaya. Moreover, modern Kebaya may be worn with slight variations, such as pairing with Jeans, instead of the traditional batik or sarong.
The Kebaya’s design and shape often enhances the graceful and elegant qualities of the wearer, but the work put into each single piece is a long and arduous process. Before embroidery begins, measurements must be noted down, and the type of material, the colors of each thread, the designs – whether there be flowers or butterflies etc.- must be decided. Not only is it time-consuming, but it also requires a lot of creativity and effort to complete. This has led many Kebaya enterprises to mass-produce in factories in order to save time and effort. However, at Kim Kebaya Fashion, we allocate our time to each Kebaya to preserve the intricate patterns and delicate designs so that each piece is tailor made to suit each individual.
Our mission is to promote and preserve the art of the Nyonya Kebaya. For three generations now, Kim Kebaya Fashion has strived to cultivate a love and appreciation for this art, and will continue to dedicate ourselves to providing original designs and fine craftsmanship suited for each individual.