4 May 2018
A Feast for the Fashion Senses
PMQ pop-up 23 Senses will introduce Hong Kong to some of the finest local designers, from globally recognised brands like menswear label Necro Poon to newly-launched labels such as Start From Zero & Sons, a workwear collection that represents a collaboration between designer Sonic Lam and the renowned street art collective.
Opening 27 April and running until 20 May, the three-week long retail event will present an eclectic showcase of the latest Spring/Summer 2018 styles, from Blind By JW’s womenswear, which spotlights hand-drawn digital prints, to monotone bags and shirts featuring portrait painting from Calvin Kwok, as well as DEMO, whose menswear collections are exclusive to Harvey Nichols Hong Kong.
The event is hosted by fashionally.com, a website dedicated to the promotion of local fashion talent and introducing more young Hong Kong fashion brands to the local market, according to Ms Dury Chin, Deputy Head of Creative at the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC). “We invited previous winners of the Young Fashion Designers Contest (YDC) and some local young designers of ready-to-wear and fashion who have shops in PMQ to join this event and the response was so good that we have 23 brands,” she explains. Out of the 23 participating owners, eight are already shop owners at PMQ.
Navigating the Retail Market
Acknowledging the difficulties new fashion brands experience entering the retail market, Ms Chin believes the pop-up will provide a useful platform for young brands. “We want to connect and unite local young designers so they become a force to be reckoned with.”
Putting together a pop-up that showcases the work of 23 different designers has been exciting. “The scale this time is big, and publicising and marketing 23 brands at the same time has been a challenge. But we are happy that these labels are helping each other and they understand this is a collaboration that means a lot to us all ,” says Ms Chin. “Rents in Hong Kong are high and there are too few organisations like PMQ offering lower rents for retail spaces. Pop-ups are a good way to show the local audience that there are in fact many world class designers and collections here. Many of these designers are already showing and selling in Paris, New York, Shanghai and London, even though Hong Kong shoppers may not yet be aware of them. Pop-ups aren’t necessarily detrimental to the mainstream shopping experience either. Some shopping malls in Hong Kong welcome the pop-up idea, as events like these help to attract more shoppers.”
The designer behind the phenotypesetter brand, Jane Ng, already has a boutique at PMQ and will show pieces from 112 mountainyam and YMDH by Jason Lee, winner of the Best Footwear Design Award at YDC 2017, alongside her own collections of long dresses and unisex tops and pants. Ng took part in the fashionally pop-up event last year, which she says brought phenotypesetter new customers and good sales. “We always enjoy taking part in pop-up shops because of the diverse brands and products available. The PMQ store is mainly a concept shop for phenotypsetter, but we also do crossover programmes with other brands. Such collaborations spark new ideas and provide customers with a different experience.”
Ng is currently working on new collections for Spring and Summer 2019 for fashion weeks in Hong Kong, Paris and Shanghai. “I started to show in Paris last season, and have been in Shanghai three times – it’s exposure, and a great starting point for new brands.”
Having had her own booth at the trade fairs, Ng, like more and more brands, is exploring the benefits of partnering with a showroom for the Paris and Shanghai fashion weeks.
She launched her own e-shop last year and is now developing an app and teaching part-time at the Hong Kong Baptist University. “I also hope to spare some resources on an art project for wearables; it’s important to strike a balance between art and business,” she says.
Street Art Showcase
The designer behind Start From Zero & Sons, Sonic Lam, will showcase his first collection at the pop-up, a workwear range that includes a four-pocket jacket and trousers with padded knees that will be worn as a uniform by members of the staff. Start From Zero has diversified from street art into woodwork, and takes diverse commissions including set design. “When the crew go out to work in restaurants and malls, or at events, they want to wear a good-looking uniform, and this is their signature collection,” says Lam, now a member of the collective.
Taking part in the 23 Senses pop-up isn’t just about increased sales. It represents a great opportunity to communicate with other designers. Lam says he doesn’t know many other designers taking part and hopes to learn from them.
Lam’s former classmate from Hong Kong PolyU, Derek Chan of DEMO, is creating contemporary classics inspired by the 1940s and 1950s. “DEMO’s a really classic brand, trying to be genderless. It’s menswear, but also feels feminine.”
Chan hopes his collection appeals to working men and women: “I think today women feel comfortable dressing in clothes that look masculine, and they appreciate details like the four jacket pockets.”
All the designers at the pop-up have big ambitions for their brands.