Last year, Mongolia celebrated 25 years of democracy after a long history of colonial rule. A resulting resurgence of ethnic pride has taken hold of the country, notably boosting its nascent fashion industry. Mongolians, who have traditionally followed the fashion crazes of Japan and Korea, are now looking inward and supporting a new generation local designers. It’s becoming more popular to buy “Made in Mongolia,” thanks in part to the popular TV franchise Mongolia’s Next Top Model, which often showcases Mongolian designers. Furthermore, the capital city of Ulaanbaatar—home to the Urlakh Erdem Fashion Design Institute—now hosts its own Fashion Week. Even the designers themselves are embracing their ethnic Mongol roots and integrating generation-old techniques, materials, and designs into their modern, edgy creations. Below you’ll learn about the five must-shop designers and stores and where to find them on the streets of Ulaanbaatar.
Zaluus Melmii, Building-17, Peace Abe-28
In 2014, Michel & Amazonka cocreators and sisters Yanjindulam and Nyamkhand Choigaalaa received the Best Designer Pret-a-Porter award at the acclaimed Fashion Asia Awards. Since then, their brand has become one of the most popular young design brands in the country. (Recently, their capsule collection was even featured on the grand finale of the wildly popular Mongolia’s Next Top Model TV show.) The duo is known for taking classic European cuts and adding traditional Mongolian embellishments. You’ll find luxurious cashmere coats and skirts embroidered with patterns reminiscent of 18th-century nomadic designs, and their upcoming Summer/Fall collection, “Glamour,” will focus on romantic, feminine cuts with floral embroidery and bright colors. Michel & Amazonka also runs a corporate social responsibility program with Arig Bank, in which the proceeds from the brand’s line of eco-friendly bags are donated to programs that support the welfare of vulnerable Mongolian children.
“Goyo” translates to “object of beauty” in Mongolian and the brand’s flowing cashmere designs, which are inspired by the vast landscapes of the Mongolian countryside, truly epitomize beauty. Established in 1993, the brand has become a staple in the wardrobes of the “who’s who of Mongolia.” GOYO’s main textile, cashmere, is responsibly sourced through a 100 percent natural process that protects both the animal and environment. The current collection plays with boxy cuts in the neutral hues of the Mongolian outback, as well as delicately draped skirts in jewel tones.
Seoul Street, Great Hotel Building 503
With a slogan like “Proudly Made in Mongolia,” it’s no wonder that the new designers’ collective, Gumuda, epitomizes the best fashion the country has to offer. The store features over 20 brands from the new generation of contemporary Mongolian designers in Ulaanbaatar, including Mongol, Mode 350k, Michel & Amazonka, Choice, Eza, and Futuristic Type. The brains behind the store, Khulan Nemekhbayar, was formerly a popular Mongolian TV host who started the collective after becoming frustrated by the scarcity of Mongolian designers to feature on her show. Now, she uses social media to find up-and-comers in the Mongolian fashion industry and gives them a platform at Gumuda to showcase and sell their designs.
503, Dayan Center, Seoul Street, Bayangol District
In 2014, the design team of Sor Ganbold Baltis and Altangadas Bayarsaikhan, who once helmed GOYO, launched White Comma after a design trip to Tokyo. The trip inspired the duo’s first collection, which created clutches from vintage kimono material, Mongolian leather, and Chinese silk. The line became an instant hit on the Ulaanbaatar social scene. Since then, the team has expanded to apparel, which retains the multi-cultural influences of that first collection with European cuts, Mongolian materials, and Japanese embroidery and beading. However, the brand also takes the “Made in Mongolia” ethos to heart and proudly uses Mongolian-made wool, leather, cashmere, and suede in both accessories and apparel. Their most recent collection showcases lush cashmere coats in pastels and neutrals, embroidered with Japanese cranes and beaded floral embellishments.
Shangri la, Olympic Street Sukhbaatar district 1
Dedicated to establishing and mentoring the next generation of designers, the MPDU hosts pop-ups for Mongolia’s hottest young designers, including Monalun, Muse Art House, and Queen Fashion House. The officially registered union provides young designers with tools to help overcome obstacles to market entry, such as tariffs and access to local raw materials. MPDU also plans to establish a joint factory where union members will be able to manufacture their designs efficiently. Flip through the racks of the union’s flagship store for a peek at the full spectrum of the UB design scene—from soft leather bomber jackets by Queen Art House to Michel & Amazonka’s slinky, color-blocked silk dresses, and eyelet skirts by Monalun.