Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Man About Hong Kong: A stroll around Sheung Wan and respect paid to the temple of Lane Crawford

Above: In a city obsessed with signage, a few words that make sense

After a couple of weeks of total submersion in the new world order of Shanghai, Hong Kong provided a welcome dose of anarchy. It's not that this creativity comes from above: everywhere there are signs telling you what not to do, what to do and how to do it to a degree that's only matched by Singapore. Nonetheless, it seems in Hong Kong you can't keep a good thing down and there is still plenty of exciting movement surging up from the cracks between the newly paved streets.

Above: Culture Club Gallery
Below: The huge toy sculpture framing the window of Chocolate Rain

The hotbed of activity is centered around Sheung Wan, to the West of Soho on Hong Kong Island. After rolling down the forest path from Victoria Peak I followed the well-trodden path to the art galleries and antique shops of west Hollywood Road. But meandering off the beaten path just a little rewarded me well. I discovered a hive of independent boutiques and funky multi-use spaces brewing gourmet coffee while they chop your hair or serve you up fresh dose of Chinese art.

Above: Sample store Muchacha
Below: Fang Fong Projects

My favourite corner has to be around Peel and Staunton - a real one-stop shop to replenish your mind body and soul. Want European womenswear? Head to sample store Muchacha (24 Peel St) which is rammed full one-offs from labels like Karen Millen, Agnes B and Moschino. Fancy trying some local threads? Go to Fang Fong Projects boutique (69 Peel Street); it's their only store but they've got a very wide collection and helpful director Lai Fan Wu will make sure you find what you're after. If it's art you're after, check out the Culture Club Gallery. They specialise in affordable pieces by emerging artists. Just as well because you may have blown all your cash on the excellent coffee they stock including the world's rarest variety: Kopi Luwak, which is harvested from the droppings of Asian Palm Civet. And if you're a bit more broke you needn't lose out: I suggest grabbing some street food at Leaf Dessert on Elgin. Make sure you finish with their red bean sweet - it's surprisingly tasty...

Above: Dalston-Berlin-Hong Kong; that international symbol of cool rears it's hairy face again in the form of a very stylish menswear shop named simply 'Moustache'. What else?

Above: Delightful hand-customised Kegs at Moustache
Below: I bought one of these pastel shaded cotton 'map of HK' scarves by Moustache. apparently they're just what you need to wipe away the HK summer humidity. Am tempted to go back to try it out.

Moving further west along Hollywood Road away from Central, blokes on the hunt for some new ready-to-wear cloth should pop into the recently opened Moustache. Designed by ex-New Yorker Ellis Kreuger, their casual collection is understated and subtle yet on the money with international trends and wouldn't look out of place in Saville Row's B Store. For bigger label menswear in Sheung Wan I'd recommend a stroll up Sai Street. The anonymous hair salon at number 51 doubles as a stylist's sample shop. They had gear from Dior Homme and Comme des Garcons going cheap when I visited. If you've got a bit more time to get kitted out in Hong Kong but want to avoid the hawkers selling run-of-the-mill tailored suits from the streets of Kowloon, I suggest a visit to J A Daye on Hollywood Road. This was the initial enterprise by Ellis Kreuger and offers beautifully made-to-measure seasonal collections crafted by genuine old-school Hong Kong tailors in a two-week turnaround time. If you don't have that long but still fancy trying their service you can self-measure from home using their detailed online how-to videos and time your visit to HK for the fittings.

There are a ton of other cool joints to discover in between Soho and Hollywood Park. Spend a half day wondering around those streets and I guarantee you not to be disappointed...

Above: Hair salon/menswear sample sale at 51 Sai Street.

Lane Crawford

Finally, no trip to Hong Kong would be complete without a pilgrimage to the fashion mecca which is Lane Crawford. With three designer emporiums spanning both sides of the harbor and fashion by Givenchy rubbing sharing racks with the most directional cuts from Cheap Monday, I couldn't help but be impressed with the icon of HK designer fashion. With as many LV and Cartier shops as there are Starbucks in London, I felt mildly overdosed on luxury more than once during my stay there. But I instantly fell in love with the presentation at Lane Crawford which was creative and inspiring, eschewing the borderline gratuity evident elsewhere. I particularly enjoyed a mannequin display combining current fashions with pieces from international tribes styled by the great Michael Costiff and a wonderful fantasy mens boutique curated by Judy Blame. I really felt LC is pushing our expectations of what a design department store should be offering. Since getting back I've heard my friends over at Bitching and Junkfood are also supplying my new favourite place. Proof if ever it was needed that Lane Crawford still has its finger well and truly on the pulse.

On the slate...Man About Vienna, Leipzig, Beijing and Shanghai


  1. Fashion is everywhere? You certainly prove that ManAboutWorld!

  2. Hi Ed- I really enjoyed this post! Thanks for mentioning our shops, and thanks for the heads up on 51 Sai Street: who knew?!

  3. really want to go now..Let us have your report on beijing then i'll kill too birds!

  4. nice post ed, quite a useful one for those who want to explore the design side of HK...
    and wow, i've been to HK several times (and obviously never really documented my trips and stores i always go, which I frankly never remember so keep going to diff places all the time) and it seems like you know more than me! hahaha...u just inspired me to really document my trips wherever i go to make the trips worth while!

    look forward seeing more posts! x

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