How David Beckham and Daniel Kearns hope to improve Hong Kong men’s wardrobes

The former soccer star, who signed a five-year deal with Hong Kong-owned Kent & Curwen, hand-picked designer Kearns to reimagine traditional British tailoring for the millennial generation

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 July, 2016, 1:00pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 July, 2016, 4:48pm

Sitting in a suite in the Upper House in Hong Kong’s Admiralty district, David Beckham and Daniel Kearns look like two peas in a very stylish Kent & Curwen pod, the perfect poster boys for a brand looking to appeal to a younger audience.

Dressed in navy suits, crisp white shirts and skinny blue ties, the pair were back in the city last week for the 90th anniversary celebrations of the British heritage brand, known for its strong sporting roots (it created the original cricket jumper), for which Beckham and Kearns are relatively new recruits (Beckham joined in September 2015, Kearns in February 2016).

Together they are looking back to move forward, tapping the archives of the brand owned by Hong Kong’s Trinity Group.

“When David puts on these appropriated heritage pieces with a pair of skinny jeans or with some boots they start to look quite modern and quite different. That’s the dialogue we are trying to build for the brand, to take these iconic heritage pieces and redress them for a new generation,” says Kearns.

Beckham – who signed a five-year partnership with Kent & Curwen and sees China as a key market – says he is constantly inspired by Hong Kong’s young and old.

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“It’s good to be back in Hong Kong – I get a lot of inspiration from people here,” the former Manchester United star says. "I’ve been coming to Asia for the past 25 years, have a huge fan base here and now with my business career I can say I understand the Hong Kong market and what people like to wear.”

He’s already developed a strong bond with Kearns, who says: “This idea of authenticity is really key – David and I talk about that a lot in terms of the product.

“There’s a younger generation that this will appeal to – the clothing hobbyists, guys who are obsessed with clothes but they’re not fashion victims.”

Beckham personally chose Kearns for the role of creative director, and with good reason. Kearns’ impressive CV includes menswear designer positions at Emanuel Ungaro, John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Louis Vuitton, Roberto Cavalli, Ermenegildo Zegna and Yves Saint Laurent, as well as Faconnable.

Heritage rules: Kent & Curwen and its Hong Kong connection

“Daniel also understands the brand, he understands the younger generation – and yes, we get on well,” Beckham says.

Kearns grew up in Dublin, and earned a BA in fashion design from the National College of Art and Design in the Irish capital in 1997.

His love of fine tailoring is clear. “If something comes back from the factory and it doesn’t feel authentic, if it not quite right, then we will put it back into work – that’s what we are aiming to achieve.”

Kearns says he shares Beckham’s love of heritage brands, and the pair have spent many hours mining Kent & Curwen’s archive to find pieces to rework for a younger generation.