Cheap fashion

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 February, 2013, 4:39am

Clothes certainly make the man (or woman), but the fashion faux pas of wearing the same jacket as your friend may have you wondering: "Where can I get affordable but unique luxury clothes?"

Every major city has its fair share of hipster-friendly vintage stores. Hong Kong offers more. As a distribution hub for the mainland's garment factories, it has access to every discontinued, overflow or flawed piece of clothing, and for a fraction of the original price.

Hong Kong's proximity to Japan makes it a dumping ground for out-of-season clothes. Hong Kong shops ship in the excess pieces and sell them off cheaply.

If that idea sounds intriguing, try visiting a Me & George outlet. With locations in Central, Wan Chai, Mong Kok and others, it sells a mix of second-hand and out-of-date stock, buying in bulk from season-obsessed local fashionistas and Japanese retailers.

A recent visit unearthed such gems as a Patrizia Pepe leather jacket for HK$450 and a Hugo Boss handbag for just HK$200. Not every visit results in a treasure trove, but an average day will yield at least a pair of Levi's 501s, a Burberry trench coat and maybe a Brooks Brothers suit, for a few hundred dollars each.

Hong Kong's Oxfam store in The Landmark is a favourite stop for penny-pinching tai-tais. And you're bound to find something if you visit often enough.

If you'd rather not get into second-hand clothes, try the many independent outlet stores, often located around Sheung Wan and North Point. Queen's Outlet on Gage St in Central is one of the most popular, selling locally produced goods meant for export. I recently picked up a denim shirt from Dutch brand Scotch & Soda for just HK$180. It normally sells online for more than HK$1,000.

Similarly, major luxury brands offload last season's goods at official outlet shops. Most are far from the city centre, but genuine bargains are guaranteed if you make the trek. Citygate Outlets in Tung Chung is the most famous, with everything from Alfred Dunhill to Vivienne Tam, while Horizon Plaza in Ap Lei Chau has Armani, Prada and many others. For an extensive but somewhat dated list of outlet stores, visit hongkongextras.com

Finish off your outfit with some one-of-a-kind eyewear: Woo Ping Optical in North Point is a 40-year veteran. Unlike most glasses stores, the elderly couple that run the shop also own the property, meaning they transfer rent savings to you, with a wide selection of Ray-Ban, Gucci, Dior and other luxury glasses sold at cheaper prices than bigger chain stores. They also have a large collection of long-defunct luxury brands, but you might have to speak Cantonese to persuade the owners to rummage around.

Finally, a piece of local advice: while most countries charge a premium for tailoring, Hong Kong's long-established history with the profession offers endless competitively priced but mostly hidden cutters. A not-so-well-known fact is that many major suit-makers outsource their work, with Lam & Tsang (Flat E4, 3/F, Mirador Mansions, 54 Nathan Road, tel: 2366 9558) being one of their favourite suppliers. Lam & Tsang charge as little as HK$1,000 for a suit if you provide the cloth. For your oversized shirts and dresses, try Tin Lon Tailor (Wing Fung Building, 87 Hollywood Road, Central, tel: 2548 7035) who can alter them for as little as HK$100 each.