Style tripper: Hong Kong
If you're looking for a more original look, give the malls a miss and head for some of the city's off-the-radar boutiques, writes Kawai Wong
This is where sidewalk models court the lens of style hunters. Strutting up and down Fashion Walk are Hilary Tsui doppelgangers on the hunt for neon tutus or the latest wares from obscure designers. Aland (below right), Korea's interpretation of Topshop, has three stores in Hong Kong with its flagship site sitting opposite Times Square. Occupying an entire floor of Lee Theatre Plaza, Aland stocks crop tops, Aztec knits and other Korean creations that appeal to Urban Outfitters-obsessed hipsters.
Mino Mart in Po Foo Building is a multibrand boutique that embraces London's eclectic East End. Look out for Hong Kong brand Methodology's ruched leather necklaces, Born to Shop's runaway bride petticoats and brands from the UK and Singapore.
On Paterson Street, Kniq's pop costumes attract a Canto-pop clientele drawn to its secluded location and new arrivals every month. It's worth walking over to Tai Hang to visit Volume One (above), for its array of contemporary accessories, including hand-crafted jewellery by Hong Kong designer Shannam, and Plexiglas necklaces by Jaclyn Mayer. Before you do, though, drop by Visual Culture on Lan Fong Road. This niche optician houses the only Hakusan Megane branch outside Japan. The celebrated Japanese eyewear manufacturer is renowned for its handmade frames, including the style made famous by John Lennon.
"It took four years to convince Hakusan Megane's owner to let me run a store in Hong Kong," says Visual Culture founder Pazo Ho. "I'm its biggest fan, and this Hakusan Megane shop-in-shop is the exact replica of its stores in Japan."
- Aland, 1/F Lee Theatre Plaza, 99 Percival Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 2873 6773
- Mino Mart, 1/F Po Foo Building, Foo Ming Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 2736 0198, minomart.com
- Kniq, 4B, Vienna Mansion, 55 Paterson Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 2881 7903, kniq.com.hk
- Volume One, 30 Sun Chun Street, Tai Hang, tel: 2808 0962
- Visual Culture, 21 Lan Fong Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2881 8291, visualculture.com.hk
Cochrane Street's latest addition, House of Avenues (HoA) sells watermelon stilettos, Mondrian pumps, bridal heels and Mary Janes. "Many international shoe designers create towering heels that are less suited for Hong Kong, where women prefer to walk in imaginative designs," says Jazzy Yu, owner of HoA.
Little Black Dress on Wellington Street is renowned for its fabulously girly womenswear from the likes of Sretsis and Manoush.
Hatwoman on Des Voeux Road is a flamboyant shop run by Elizabeth Gomersall, who travels to Europe every season to source the best hats and gloves from the most renowned and talented milliners. "My favourite hats of the moment are from Luci Giblin, a Melbourne milliner who goes by the name of Ward & Wylie," says Gomersall. "We also have some intricate and dramatic pieces from new milliner Cordelia Bradley. Cordelia is my daughter, but I wouldn't stock her work if I didn't think it was good."
Head towards Hollywood Road and check out Edit, a small boutique that stocks womenswear and accessories, and an in-house capsule collection that references Phoebe Philo's Bauhaus creations for Céline.
On Peel Street, Fang Fong Project's Lai Fan Wu upcycles fabric for timeless, work-friendly classics. Damina sells form-fitting jersey sundresses. The fabrics are sourced from France and pieces are created by French and Italian designers. Owner Laura Carney says: "In Hong Kong, when people think of French or Italian designs they think of Lanvin or Gucci ... But we've commissioned designers to bring that coveted European touch to our demure frocks."
- House of Avenues, LG/F 37-43 Cochrane Street, Central, tel: 2363 6466, houseofavenues.com.hk
- Little Black Dress, 61 Wellington Street, Central, tel: 2147 3218
- Hatwoman, Man Yee Arcade, 68 Des Voeux Road, Central, tel: 2167 8337, hatwoman.hk
- Edit, 67 Hollywood Road, Central, tel: 2549 4999, 67edit.com
- Fan Fong Projects, 69A Peel Street, Central, tel: 3105 5557
- Damina, 63 Peel Street, Central, tel: 2559 9750, daminafashion.com
Tibi trousers and Emma Cook Bargello skirt at Edit on Hollywood Road.
Sheung Wan is SoHo's edgier sister. There is much to discover along the streets off Hollywood Road, especially around the Tung/Sai/Tai Ping Shan Street area. Check out Zhan, where autographed posters of Maggie Cheung man-yuk stare at vintage Chanel jewellery and Givenchy jackets.
In Tikka Boutique on Gough Street, Doris Qiu presents her gothic-romantic womenswear alongside Meli Melo bags (a Middleton favourite) and others.
For accessories visit Kim Lai, also on Gough Street. His bespoke service attracts haute jewellery fans. Lai's collections are inspired by roller coasters and flowers and are made using his own goldsmithing techniques.
Fungus Workshop is where Hong Kong leather goods label Hoiming's owners, Baldwin Pui and Hoiming Fung hold their courses. There are lots of messenger bags, tote bags and baby shoes, available off-the-shelf or made to order.
- Zhan, shop 1, Po Hing Court, 10-18 Po Hing Fong, Sheung Wan, tel: 2559 3001
- Tikka Boutique, 18 Gough Street, Central, tel: 2884 1111, tikka-boutique.com
- Kim Lai Jeweller, 49-51 Gough Street, Central, tel: 2545 6388, kimlai.net
- Fungus Workshop, 4 Po Hing Fong, Sheung Wan, tel: 2779 9003, fungusworkshop.net
In this district, you are just as likely to come across streetwalkers or bathtub salesmen as you are conventioneers and old Wan Chan residents. But there's also the gentrified Sun/Moon/Star Street area around Three Pacific Place, with boutiques such as Ka-pok, Monocle Shop and Vie.
Simple Pleasure on Sau Wa Fong sells Muji-style linen blouses and skirts by craftswoman Shadow. Next door is Incredible Shop, a men's boutique selling Happy Socks, ninja shoes, vintage T-shirts and hip hop rucksacks. There's also Delstore on the secluded Schooner Street. This pared back, split-level shop stocks artisanal casualwear - think earth-coloured shirt dresses and androgynous jackets from Japanese brands such as Yaeca, Yuketen and Engineered Garments.
St Francis Street's basement boutique WDSG is a Wild West-inspired dungeon that offers linen dress shirts and denim dungarees from brands like Double RL by Ralph Lauren and Mister Freedom. There are two in-house lines, Gentlewomen by WDSG and General by WDSG.
Those who love thrift shopping should visit Green Ladies on Hennessy Road. "Recycle, reuse, restyle" is this social enterprise's motto. Proceeds go to St James' Settlements, and Miu Miu shoes and Gucci jackets, sell for as little as HK$128.
- Simple Pleasure, 3 Sau Wa Fong, Wan Chai, tel: 2383 6933 sp-boutique.com
- Incredible, 4 Sau Wa Fong, Wan Chai, tel: 2529 8638 incredibleshophk.com
- Delstore, 3 Schooner Street, Wan Chai, tel: 2536 4788, delstore.co
- WDSG, 9B1 St Francis Street, Wan Chai, tel: 2528 3800, wd-sg.com
- Green Ladies UG18-19, CC Wu Building, 302-308 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2110 3482, greenladies.sjs.org.hk
Tsim Sha Tsui
A hotbed of youth culture and a magnet for the city's most stylish. Chapel (right) is Hong Kong's answer to Zara, with quality basics selling for as little as HK$80. Chapel's Asian-fit minimalist designs are tailored from leftover fabric from A-list fashion giants. Its flagship store, inside the Ramada Hotel Kowloon, has a enormous range of jewellery, handbags and shoes, which are shown in Paris every year. Hong Kong labels, such as Daydream Nation, Kapok and Mooi, run their own stalls at K11's Select Store and Tangram will open a shop in October with Matter Matters.
Goodbye Goodbuy is a small shop that carries a whimsical selection of fashion and accessories from all over the world. Look for printed espadrilles, Aran knits, tongue-in-cheek brooches and polka-dot handbags.
If you have a penchant for bonkers fashion, Uuu … shooop's asymmetrically cut, unusually proportioned culottes, bodysuits and more are made with fabrics woven in its own facility.
- Chapel, G/F & 1/F Ramada Hotel Kowloon, 73-75 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2882 2055, houseofchapel.com
- K11, 18 Hanoi Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 3118 8070, k11concepts.com
- Goodbye Goodbuy, 5/F, 30 Granville Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 3446 7423, facebook.com/goodbyegoodbuy
- Uuu … shooop, Level 301, The One, 100 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 3188 1390, uuushooop.com