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Fashion shopping in Hong Kong

Abc brings its unique crystal fashions to Hong Kong, with focus on beauty rather than the rocks’ spiritual side

Worn by the likes of rappers Future and Migos, the crystal-infused T-shirts and other items by Advisory Board Crystals are riding a new trend, and winning fans over with their weirdness and exclusivity

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 January, 2018, 9:48am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 January, 2018, 4:15pm

Last year saw the fashion, beauty and even wellness industries harnessing the power of crystals, sparking a trend stretching from water bottles (such as VitaJuwel) and nail polish to perfumes and T-shirts.

A pioneer in the latter, Los Angeles-based fashion collective Advisory Board Crystals (ABC) has just brought its creations to Hong Kong as part of online retailer HBX’s curated pop-up shop at Landmark in Central.

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Abc is part conceptual streetwear label, part curated crystal shop. Within a short period of time, founders Remington Guest and fashion designer Heather Haber have managed to create plenty of buzz, with rappers such as Future and hip hop trio Migos wearing their designs, and industry heavyweights such as Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman and Colette stocking the collection.

The brand’s own story is one of serendipity. Both Guest and Haber worked at hip fashion brand Band of Outsiders at separate times (Guest as a model and jack of all trades, Haber as an intern) before meeting during an UberPool ride. They fell in love, and one of Guest’s first gifts to Haber was a lepidolite crystal. They decided to launch a brand inspired by crystals – but not in the kooky, New Age way one might expect.

“We started working on this six months before everyone started riding the crystal wave,” Guest says. “We hate that aspect – we really try to play it down because we don’t want to use the spiritual aspect. We are reclaiming crystals as specimens and objects of beauty.”

“Crystals have always inspired me visually,” Haber says. “I have always used them, and continue to use them, as a reference. At the same time, we like the fact that the crystal association is abstract. We are talking about crystals, but our designs don’t have to refer from them.”

Abc’s first line of products, and still a bestseller, was their colourful T-shirts. Each piece is custom dyed by Guest and Haber using a unique crystal-infused process, with the colours looking like they have been hand-painted on (Guest says it’s a common misconception that the T-shirts are tie-dyed).

Inside each shirt is an information label detailing the scientific properties of each crystal used and the effects it may have on the wearer. The packaging – a sealed vacuum pack with security labels – adds to the feeling that you are wearing a unique specimen.

The T-shirts were so popular that Guest and Haber started to add other styles, including streetwear staples such as hoodies and jogging pants. Rather than follow a seasonal model, the duo chose to collaborate with different retailers on one-off projects where they customise a collection based on a theme of their choice.

For example, the Hong Kong collection, called “Failed Fantasies”, was inspired by themes ranging from Brutalist architecture and its idea of failed utopia to Hollywood’s contrast of dreams and reality.

During their research, the couple learned that the site of their pop-up was once home to the Hongkong hotel. They duly searched out the hotel’s old logos and luggage tags and printed them on parts of the collection. Sweatshirts are also printed with the words “Hong Kong Land” and “Hollywood”, tying the two worlds together.

Abc’s prices are reasonable compared with rival streetwear brands (T-shirts are around US$65) and the collections are all unisex; each piece is limited and exclusive to the brand.

“The fact that you won’t see these pieces anywhere else is key,” Guest says. “It’s important that we keep things special and create unique pieces for retailers. Before we started this I felt let down as a consumer, because nothing I was buying felt unique. I had no reason to go anywhere and shop. We try to create something specific to each place we work with.”

“How few units we produce also adds value,” Haber says. “For us the value is really shown through availability and scarcity – that makes it fun. We don’t want people to pay for an idea.”

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The duo have big plans. They hope to launch a separate label featuring a full-fledged womenswear line (an area in which Haber has a background) and hosting exhibitions and art installations under Abc.

“We are not a streetwear brand, and creating one was never our intention,” Haber says. “What’s to come is yet to be revealed and recognised. Whatever we do, it will still have a feeling of strangeness and oddity to it. People are attracted to the weirdness of the brand, and we like that.”