Good luck charms are usually worn around the neck, or on wrist. But this year, Chinese Malaysians are wearing them under their pants.

Red men's underwear emblazoned with auspicious animals and characters have become the rage among Malaysian Chinese ahead of the Chinese lunar New Year holidays, the New Straits Times reported Friday.

Red is considered an auspicious color among the Chinese, and an essential component of feng shui, the Chinese belief of improving fortunes.

Retailers are cashing in by stocking up on these unique items for the Year of the Dog, which begins on Jan. 29, the Times said.

Its article was accompanied by a picture of three young women laughing while looking at a cut-at-the waist mannequin wearing the reversible bright red briefs with Chinese characters in gold. The underwear can be worn inside out to reveal red characters on gold fabric.

"Red underwear make up three of every 10 boxes of underwear we sell daily," the Times quoted sales assistant Nabila Ramli at a department store as saying.

"Because of the strong demand we are also giving it a lot of space on our display stores," she said. The store has had to replenish stocks twice over the past two weeks, she said.

Even the prices of the items come in auspicious numbers 15.88 ringgit (US$4.20; euro3.5), 18.88 ringgit and 19.88 ringgit. The number 8 is considered lucky among Chinese.

The characters printed on the briefs — in the front and at the back — read "attracting fortune," "golden fortune," "prosperous four seasons" and "swirling dragons."

Chinese make up a quarter of Malaysia's 26 million people.