Photography: @hello_ronron

Ever wondered how people in western countries can rock knitwear in summer and not look like they’re suffering in the heat? Here’s some good news! As it turns out, the perception that most Malaysians might’ve had about knitted outfits might not be that accurate after all. However, despite the misconceptions, many people are still in favour of the fabric due to its versatility and comfort, especially when worn during winter.

Stumbling upon hello ronron, a new Malaysian brand that has launched its debut collection of tops, skirts and dresses made from 100 per cent knit was an eye opener to us, as we found out how technology can play a part in making anything possible. Angela Chiang, the brand’s founder and director, shares with us more about this innovation and everything you need to know about knitwear.

Photography: @hello_ronron

Can you tell us more about your background and life prior to launching Hello Ronron?

“I’m originally from Taiwan and I relocated to Malaysia about three years ago. I studied fashion design at London’s renowned university of arts and design, Central Saint Martins, and specialise in womenswear and textile print design. I worked in the fashion industry for a couple of years during my studies and at a couture house in Taiwan, where we attended to our customers on a one-to-one basis, designing clothes for them based on their individual preferences in terms of style, function, comfort and occasion. It was a very fruitful and valuable experience as I learned a lot about the client’s day-to-day encounters and quality of outfits that they look for in their everyday wear.

When I was studying at Central Saint Martins, one of the most exciting things that I got to experience was the raw energy and freedom to pursue creativity, research and development as well as artistic expression. After getting hands-on experience with customers, I found myself getting inspired by the everyday lives that they lead especially while wearing the designs that we produced. Hence, designing clothing that seamlessly fits into their everyday lives comes with comfort and function that complement the customers’ silhouette and style.”

How did Hello Ronron come about and why did you choose to kick-start your entrepreneurial journey in Malaysia?

“I was looking to create casual no-fluff pieces that everyone could benefit from. At the same time, I made the decision to move to Malaysia where some of my family members live. This was back in 2020 when the pandemic had just started, so things fell into place and that’s how it all began. Despite having a love for clothes, my initial idea before starting up hello ronron was to sell tailor-made printed tote bags. It was during the designing phase when I was visualising the customer’s profile that I began to strengthen the image further in my head. Beyond the styles that women wear, it’s the life they lead and embrace – be it semi-formal, trans-seasonal or even timeless. I wanted something more that could become a lasting part of their journey. That’s when I went back to my roots in fashion design and decided to create everyday outfits that are well-made and special enough to offer a timeless appeal.”

Photography: @hello_ronron

What pushed you to want to introduce knitwear in Malaysia, and what’s the beauty of this fabric that you’d like everyone to know about?

“One of the main reasons why I love this material is because of the way it falls on the body. I noticed a gap in the Malaysian market where quality knitwear that isn’t too tight but fits well and is suitable for our tropical weather is almost void. That’s the reason why I came up with the idea of creating knitwear that fits the East and Southern Asian women’s silhouettes, based on our research of Southeast Asian women’s body measurements and proportions. Our pieces currently come in two styles – on-body fit and slim fit that embrace the silhouette with enough breathing space between the material and the body. I loved wearing knitted outfits when I was in Taiwan and London, but back in Malaysia, everything was too warm! Thankfully, based on the material and quality of the yarn that we use, we were able to create our line of clothes that’s made from soft and stretchy knits that will not make you feel warm in this climate.”

What can you tell us about the sustainability aspect of Hello Ronron?

“There are many ways to create knitted outfits such as cut and sew, fully fashioned and 3D. We’ve used fully-fashioned knits to create the designs in our collection. In other words, if you see our products, you’ll realise that the seams are neatly sewn together and with a special mark around areas like the armholes. What happens is that the fabric is knit into parts using a machine and the pieces are later put together. For each shape that’s designed, we can add or decrease knit counts based on the demand or various sizes. There’s less material waste this way and an optimum amount of yarn is used to create the pieces. In fact, this method produces 30 per cent less waste than traditional cut-and-sew methods. On the other hand, if we were to use the cut-and-sew method, there will be more fabric waste as a big piece of knitted fabric is already produced and cutting the shape of the garment out of this will only result in excess fabric which is often discarded.

In addition, the buttons used in our current collection are seashell buttons aka the by-product of food manufacturing processes. In a few years, we aim to produce our garments using recycled yarn, which is made from recycled plastic bottles that will later be knitted into the garments. Together, all these help to make hello ronron a more sustainable brand.”

Photography: @hello_ronron

While cut-and-sew methods are available in Malaysia, what about fully-fashioned and 3D-knitting methods?

“Unfortunately, they’re not. There are very few factories that specialise in fully-fashioned knitwear locally, hence why we currently produce our garments in limited quantities through our knitwear manufacturing specialist in China. Nevertheless, hello ronron is a Malaysian brand that’s catered to a global audience. We’re proud to say that we’re designed in Malaysia and our website allows our garments to be shipped globally. There are only 30–40 pieces of each design and colour, and we firmly believe that consumers should only buy what they need and that the pieces are long-lasting.”

What are the common misconceptions that people have about knitwear?

“There are so many, like knitwear being too warm, too tight or itchy on the skin. We’ve also received many DMs asking us why our garments are pricier compared to other available options. Here’s a fun fact: there are many different types of knitwear. It varies based on the knit that’s used, the yarn blends, trimmings (buttons and zippers), production methods (cut-and-sew) and the quantity produced. When you try on quality knitwear, you’ll immediately feel the difference and the cut will fit your body because of the method used to ensure that the seams are neatly joined in place. The outfit feels softer and breezy thanks to the material used too. We want to be transparent and share with our customers that the price they pay is solidly reflected through the quality of our products and the craftmanship involved.”

Photography: @hello_ronron

What is the lifespan of Hello Ronron pieces and what is the best way to ensure their longevity?

“Believe it or not, I’ve personally been wearing the sample pieces to see what I can further improve on. I’m currently wearing the Sylvie Skirt in Very Peri which has gone through about 30 washes in the past few months and amazingly, the structure of the skirt remains intact. Taking into consideration the lifestyle of our customers (women who are always on the go and constantly looking for the most efficient ways to do things), we’ve simplified the process. All she’d need to do is flip the garment inside out and put it in a laundry bag before the washing machine on a gentle cycle. I also recommend laying the outfits flat and air drying them. Don’t tumble dry as it’ll damage the material and don’t hang the knits up when they’re still wet as it’ll stretch the material and damage its shape. Although the material might shrink a little after the first wash, it’ll bounce back to its original shape when worn.”

How often can Hello Ronron fans expect to see a new collection?

“I’d say once every three to four months. You can expect to see the next collection, our second drop, before the end of the year. It’s going to be a mix of more formal and everyday wear. Maxi dresses, long skirts and tops with long sleeves are also in the making because ultimately, I want to create designs that everyone in Malaysia can wear. I’ve already designed them and the next stage will involve the prototype where we go back and forth developing samples with our manufacturing partners.”

Give us a few styling tips or ideas on how to style Hello Ronron pieces, will you?

“Absolutely! When it comes to knitwear, the most important tip is that your undergarment should be seamless. Knits are figure hugging, so you should be mindful of wearing textured pieces underneath as the lines may show. Besides that, it really depends on the kind of look that you’re going for. You can pair it with sneakers and a cap for a more street-style look, or heels for a more elegant or formal look. If you’re wearing the pieces during winter when you’re on holiday, layering is the key; reason being that it’s cold outside, but when you’re indoors, it gets quite warm most of the time thanks to the heater. Ultimately, if you’re in any of our pieces, you should feel just fine as they’re all created for our tropical weather.”

hello ronron’s tops, skirts and dresses are priced between RM180 to RM400. Shop them here.

Featured image: @hello_ronron
Design: Zariel Zahann

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