Wealth Blog

Tyler Brûlé: enter the yak-horn-rimmed spectacle

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 February, 2013, 2:38am

It was good to finally meet style icon, columnist and media entrepreneur Tyler Brûlé.

It was very un-Hong Kong - a Saturday afternoon walkie-talkie, mingling with the Canadian for drinks and eats, spilling out into the street outside his Monocle shop in Wan Chai. This was a far cry from the blingy HK$10 million Bulgari bash at the new Maritime Museum a few weeks ago.

An eclectic mix of Tyler's Monocle subscribers, media types and a few VIPs like Cathay Pacific CEO John Slosar gathered for Italian wine, beer and mushroom burgers. It was remarkably understated and genuinely enjoyable for that.

Tyler had encouraged people to bring along stories and business ideas. One eager beaver was heard pitching a new hot fashion item: Tibetan yak-horn-rimmed spectacles. The response was swift. Did this involve killing the yak? The spectacle proposer was knocked off balance. "Well it's, er … er, sustainable," he spluttered (for which we read: "Yes," and envisaged a pile of dead yaks). Tyler was unimpressed, replying he should go and build the brand first.

Talking of spectacles, several guests sported that weird Hong Kong affectation - glasses with no glass in them. A European friend tells me Chinese girls love this look, but I can't think why. Nothing looks weirder than seeing someone poking their finger through their spectacle frames to rub their eye.

Tyler would never do anything so affected. A staunch advocate of paper and old media, he prefers a real shop in Hong Kong to any kind of outlet on the mainland. Instead of strolling into a Shanghai store, Monocle's mainland devotees must hoof it to the Wan Chai emporium in person. That's precisely what they do - in droves, Tyler grins. Every weekend. Wan Chai is his second-best performing store after Toronto.