Hong Kong duo take cue from Japan as they open classic menswear boutique

Attire House in Central district offers a carefully curated product line featuring hard-to-find artisanal brands from Europe and Asia, and will soon move from a pop-up to purpose-designed space

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 August, 2016, 5:33am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 August, 2016, 5:29pm

When it comes to Asia’s best-dressed men, the Japanese have always come out on top, thanks to their immaculate style and refined taste. Some Hongkongers, however, aren’t lagging too far behind. More men are forgoing the usual luxury brands and custom tailors in favour of classic menswear that is rooted in craftsmanship.

The latest destination catering to such discerning individuals is Attire House, which was launched by two well-heeled locals, Roger Chan and Brandon Chau.

“When it comes to classic menswear, Japan definitely is the most mature market in terms of education and exposure, but we wanted to bring that to Hong Kong and take it to the next level. Men here are used to getting everything so quickly, from the latest watches to a custom-made suit. I like to compare what we are doing to the slow food movement – it’s about brands that are defined by their stories and craftsmanship,” says Chan.

Opening a menswear boutique isn’t exactly a new concept in the city, with outfits such as Ascot Chang or The Armoury already mainstays, so Chan and Chau wanted to differentiate their store in other ways.

Attire House occupies a pop-up space in the Pedder Building, and is launching a pop-up bar at the Landmark Oriental in September. The permanent boutique, however, launches in November and covers the penthouse of a building on Wyndham Street.

Designed by Japanese architect Jin Hidaka, the 5,000 sq ft space will resemble a private gentleman’s club. Chan also describes it as a “home away from home”, and “lifestyle destination”. It will include a cocktail bar, designed and directed by the award-winning Bar High Five Tokyo (it’s their first outpost outside Japan), which will serve coffee during the day and cocktails at night. Another part of the store is dedicated to a barbershop offering wet shaves, haircuts and more.

The real draw for men, though, will be the products. Carefully curated by the owners, as well as a buyer who previously worked with Japanese brand Beams, the store specialises in hard-to-find brands from London, Milan, Italy, Paris and Tokyo, many of which are available in Hong Kong for the first time.

“We are building our portfolio on timeless, seasonless ‘gentleman’s essentials’ that men will keep and wear for life. We don’t want the customer who already goes to Milan – we want the locals who go to tailors and big luxury brands so we can give them something that has more meaning and value.

“While we are heavy on ready-to-wear – it’s a commercial practicality – all the brands we carry have an element of handmade to them. It’s very much about the quality and the people who make the products,” says Chan.

Chan estimates that more than 80 per cent of the brands are new to the Greater China region. Highlights include shirts from Savile Row tailor Anderson & Sheppard and Finamore in Naples, and suiting from Cesare Attolini, who according to Chan makes ready-to-wear suits that are “incredibly comfortable and flattering”. Other must-haves include shoes by Japanese shoe maker Chihiro Yamaguchi (from Guild of Crafts) and lightweight jackets from Naples-based Sartoria Solito, which are recognised by their high armholes, lack of shoulder padding and lightweight linings.

“When it comes to sourcing these names, it’s a small world within a big industry. You are dealing with small artisans or family-run companies, so it’s really about creating relationships. Either they like you or they don’t. For example, in Japan we were introduced to four or five amazing shoemakers. We found one shoemaker who only makes 100 pairs of shoes per year, 90 per cent of them going to local customers. He kept saying no, but after four meetings he finally agreed to make 10 pairs of shoes for us,” says Chan.

While ready-to-wear will be a key component of the store, there are also plans to host at least one trunk show a month offering bespoke services direct to customers (both men and women). Customers can expect the bespoke process to last between four to six months depending on the artisan. The programme for September includes visits by Japanese shoemaker Yamaguchi San, father and son tailors Solito and shoemaker George Cleverley. Cesare Attolini and Anderson & Sheppard will also make their inaugural visits to the city before the end of the year.

Looking ahead, Chan also hopes to continue sourcing new brands from other “epicentres of excellence”, be it Scotland (for cashmere) or Paris (leather goods).

“We are keeping our eyes open. It’s not about the country of origin – it’s about the family, the stories, the craft,” he says.

Five items every dapper man should have in their wardrobes, according to Roger Chan

1. Full-length umbrella

What could be more essential in Hong Kong than an umbrella? I prefer full-stick versions by Mario Talarico, which showcases stunning Neopolitan craftsmanship.

2. Pocket square

Pocket squares are the perfect way to inject a little colour into your look. Styles by Anderson & Sheppard are made from soft cotton, for a more casual look than silk.

3. Navy blazer

A navy blazer is essential for any man because it can be dressed up or down depending on your mood. I suggest a piece from Cesare Attolini, which is completely handmade and unstructured for a cool relaxed feel. It’s ideal for Hong Kong’s humid climate.

4. Brogues

Brogues are so versatile you can wear them with a suit or use them to smarten up a casual outfit. These chestnut half-brogues by George Cleverley in London will last a lifetime.

5. Handmade tie

E. Marinella have been making ties for more than 100 years and the quality is second to none. Each style is hand-picked by Maurizio Marinella, a third-generation member of the family.