Known as a shopping mecca, Hong Kong is home to countless malls brimming with luxury, international brand names — and with the city’s love of big-name brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Audemars Piguet, local boutiques and designers have had to work hard to carve out a niche for themselves within a competitive retail market. In recent years, however, independent entrepreneurs have really begun to shine, with concept shops and clothing lines springing up around the city. Instead of (or, in addition to) splurging on Chloé and Tom Ford during your next visit to this label-conscious city, consider purchasing a memento or gift from one of these homegrown companies. As an added bonus, you’ll jet back home with a unique keepsake, since all of these products are handmade locally.
Translating to “No Problem!” in Cantonese, this independent label offers fun, humorous, easy-breezy apparel with a touch of environmental awareness (for example, a “Save The Fins” shirt advocates against the trade and sale of shark fins in Hong Kong). In addition to its classic “852” (Hong Kong’s country code) and “Lost In Translation” T-shirts, the company has launched a new women’s line of blouses and tunics just in time for the hot and humid months of August and September. The label was founded by Elody Vincent, a French designer who spent a number of years living in Beijing before making the move to Hong Kong. Pick up a Momantai shirt at boutiques such as Emmanuel F. or Dymocks in Central, Babushka in Sai Kung or Petit Bazaar in Stanley.
This organic, handmade line of hand and body soaps is both great for your skin and for the environment, with the product’s purveyors incorporating ethical practices into their production process; the company uses 100 percent natural oils from plants to create its sudsy wares, and even re-uses its striking, minimalist bottles whenever possible. The soaps currently come in three scents: Tea Tree, Lavender and Orange Ginger. The newest So… Soap! product is a set of travel soaps created in collaboration with local boutique Kapok. Swing by the Kapok outposts in Wan Chai or Tsim Sha Tsui to snag a set for your carry-on bag.
Founded by Swedish designers Alexis Holm and David Ericsson, Squarestreet stocks a number of eclectic brands such as VOID watches (which Ericsson launched in 2008) and Gram shoes (which Holm co-founded in 2005), but the stars of the show are the various fine leather goods that are all locally made (in fact, many products are created in Squarestreet’s in-store workshop). The SQ line of shoes, wallets and bags employs a bold, minimalist aesthetic that meshes with the boutique owners’ Scandinavian roots. When the two combine fine design with mostly locally sourced leather (though Italian leather is also used on occasion), the end result is always something to admire. A handbag or wallet from the Sheung Wan shop is always a good choice.
This company takes coins and other historical objects and transforms them into pieces of fine cufflinks that add a touch of intrigue to an otherwise everyday ensemble. Possibly the most interesting versions are based off the now-defunct five cent coin, which was in use from the 19th century up until 1980; options include rare Queen Victoria, King Edward VII, King George V and King George VI coin cufflinks. Patinova also recently introduced novel lines of sterling silver cufflinks featuring auspicious Chinese characters and animals from the Chinese zodiac, including the snake and dragon. To select a pair for yourself, head to The Armoury (two locations in Central).
Photos Courtesy of squarestreet, Alan See and So Soap