Exterior of the store // © 2014 Goods Of Desire
Hong Kong, famous for its towering skyscrapers and world-class shopping, has a seriously enviable closet. Locals can choose between classics such as Burberry or cult Japanese brands like Kenzo, while spend-happy travelers from Mainland China swing through the city’s Central district to grab designer duds.
But the brand-name stores in Central sell the same wares all over the world — whether on Madison or Melrose avenues. Savvy shoppers with an independent streak should head to hip boutiques instead, most of them opened by local up-and-comers. These next-wave designers transform traditional Chinese textiles into 21st-century apparel and objets d’art. From a new-breed tailor reinventing couture suiting to a graffiti collective with a cutting-edge gallery in Sheung Wan, here’s where to sample Hong Kong’s indie design scene.
Got a few thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket but don’t want to end up sporting the same Tom Ford two-piece as your buddies back home? Make an appointment at Moustache, an ultra-hip tailor on the border of the Central and Sheung Wan neighborhoods. New York-transplant Alex Young opened this ode to the atelier in 2009, combining impeccable local craftsmanship with an international aesthetic. Customizable suits come in slim silhouettes and stylish fabrics imported from Japan and Italy.
The geometric yellow exterior of this store gives it an urban-origami-meets-Blade-Runner vibe. Conceived as a gathering place for Hong Kong’s creative community, Konzepp was founded by local designer Geoff Tsui and media mogul Willie Chan. In their brightly lit shop on a steep Sheung Wan side street, artist-types with vintage eyewear and hip haircuts rifle through obscure international photography publications before picking up quirky wool and leather iPad cases and utilitarian bags by cult Swiss designer Qwestion. Visitors can check out limited-edition pieces created in collaboration with emerging global talents such as Linda Farrow and Mykita Bernhard, then linger over a pot of Oolong or a mug of French press coffee at the cafe table in the rear of the store.
Short for “Goods of Desire,” G.O.D. is a quirky lifestyle shop that was one of the pioneers of Hong Kong’s new wave. Started in 1996 by two architects in a small retail space in Aberdeen Island, G.O.D. now has eight locations across Hong Kong, plus newly opened outposts in Singapore and Mainland China. All sell housewares, gifts and unique apparel with tongue-in-cheek references to Hong Kong’s singular identity. Think men’s boxers in mod Chinese brocade patterns, pencil cases made from old Cantonese newspapers and panda-shaped oven mitts. G.O.D. has also partnered with brands such as Cathay Pacific and Coca-Cola and, in 2008, launched a Street Culture Museum in a former factory building in West Kowloon.
If you have been trying to find a gift for that Doc Martens-wearing rebel without a charge card on your list, you’ve come to the right place. Start From Zero, a Hong Kong street art collective, opened Rat’s Cave, a combination gallery and retail outpost, in 2010. Tattooed hipsters, punk DJs and edgy arts enthusiasts visit the small shop on Sheung Wan’s burgeoning Tai Ping Shan Street looking for vintage military jackets, denim button-ups adorned with quirky graffiti decals and screen-printed postcards and framed originals by Hong Kong street artists. The Rat’s Cave website is in Chinese, but plenty of information about it can be found online at sites such as HK-Magazine.com.