What was the idea behind your first store, Edit? Jacqueline Chak Hai-yee: “When we opened our first store [which has since closed], on Hollywood Road [in Hong Kong’s Central business district], in 2011, we wanted to create a concept that was beyond just a fashion boutique. We wanted to cover design in all its various elements, including interior design, art and architecture. I am a trained architect and to me, they share the same values, artistically and aesthetically.”

Tell us about your new space in Wong Chuk Hang [a former industrial district on Hong Kong Island’s southern side]? Chak: “The new space is an office, a shop and a showroom all rolled into one. We have a social area, which includes a library with books and magazines. We also plan on hosting movies
and design shows. It’s more of a design hub.”

Hong Kong’s shopping mall rents rise for the first time in a year as foot traffic improves

What are Hongkongers looking for in fashion brands today? Genevieve Chew Cay-ling: “Customers have less disposable income now so quality is important, but they also still want an item that elevates their look. Four years ago, they didn’t mind spending HK$4,000 on a sweater, but now it needs that extra touch in design or quality.”

What are the biggest challenges facing independent retailers in the city? Chew: “Rent is killing everyone, especially independent boutiques. Owning and running a store is no longer sustainable, but boutiques are still a necessity as they add value and personality to Hong Kong. The rise of online shopping also poses problems – it helps with getting the word out but at the same time you can’t beat the pricing.”

How are you incorporating sustainability into your business? Chew: “There is so much wastage in the whole fashion process, from development to production. We are looking to partner with a social-venture company to use fabric waste and employ women from low-income families to help manufacture the clothing. We plan on launching a line/service called Re-Edit where we will collect pre-loved designer goods and redesign them. We also hope to use these donated fabrics and pieces to create new clothes for the underprivileged.”

What are your favourite boutiques around the world? Chak: “Colette, in Paris, inspired us to start Edit. We can’t compare, but the concept is still relevant even though it closed [in December]. Dover Street Market, in New York, has an amazing brand mix. They have curated the space like an exhibi­tion, so it feels more like an art space.”

Chew: “We also love The Broken Arm, in Paris. They carry only 10 brands but they are always the best.”