Michael Mok, general merchandise manager at Joyce boutique, reveals how he spots potential in young designers.
You've judged many competitions across Asia.Why is it important for you to support talented new designers? "Because these people are the future of fashion. Many designer labels that I brought into Joyce 10 years ago, like Christopher Kane, Mary Katrantzou, Sacai and even Thom Browne, are now industry leaders."
How do you decide which brands to buy? "Firstly, the identity of the brand is key. There is very strong competition within the retail arena, so brands need to stand out. Secondly, we also see how well a designer's ideas are executed in a collection. [The clothes] should speak for themselves, as customers now really appreciate the product and care less about the brand name. Thirdly, I look at the quality of the work."
Who has influenced your career? "When I started my fashion career, Joyce Ma was one of my biggest influences. She taught me how to appreciate a designer's brand identity rather than to judge how big or small their collection is. Strong ideas in a collection are an indicator of a designer's potential to grow to the next level. One good example is JW Anderson, which was a small brand I picked up seven years ago in London. Although he was very young, Jonathan's work was strong. Now he is the creative director of Loewe."
What do you like to do in your free time? "Dinner is one of the luxuries I love, especially during buying trips. I love dinners in Tokyo and I have one or two favourite restaurants when I go to Paris. I also love to exercise in the morning, because it helps to relieve stress and refresh the mind before the working day begins."