Though Hong Kong remains famous for some of the best shopping in the Asia-Pacific, opportunities abound to improve the accessibility of its retail experience. The city’s astronomic rents and reliance on large-scale advertising have resulted in a landscape best described as undemocratic. Luxury brands dominate most shopping precincts and their association with status makes them hugely desirable. In a city of bankers and lawyers, that is to be expected. At the very least, it’s unsurprising.
Aside from a few home grown – albeit beloved – haberdashers like Kapok & G.O.D (“Goods of Desire”), Hong Kongers have historically had one of two options: (1) prohibitively expensive luxury goods; or (2) disposable fast fashions that offer little in the way of value for money. While Suitsupply, the European fashion retailer, will not be winning any plaudits for championing local talent, it is an invaluable addition to the growing number of brands catering to the middle end of the market.
On 1 December, the doors to Suitsupply’s Hong Kong outpost were opened. Located at the junction of Ice House Street and Des Voeux Road Central, the walk-up space makes a distinctive impression versus its many sparse slightly-too-minimalist neighbours. The store is divided into roughly five separate spaces, with a variety of formal and sportif suiting available throughout. Like many comparable brands that have attained international popularity, there is a uniform visual identity at work that permeates every aspect of the store. Gargantuan blow-ups of the brand’s previous campaigns (yes, those ad campaigns) plaster every wall. A literal army of mannequins, clothed in the newest seasonal arrivals, beckon customers at every turn. And an obligatory alterations station anchors the main space – where a few staff work full time to ensure same day alterations.
From a global marketer’s perspective, the aesthetic of Suitsupply’s latest Asian location makes a good deal of sense. Yet, I can’t help but feel the brand has missed a trick by failing to inject its latest shopfront with a touch of Hong Kong’s unique style. The brand’s Shanghainese opening in 2015 utilised a vacant shikumen (石库门) – 19th century dwellings native to the city that incorporated Western and Chinese architectural influences – as the foundation for their first major Chinese store. A similarly distinctive approach in Hong Kong would have been welcome but for those with more practical priorities on their mind, the space is sure to satisfy.
Invariably, as with all other Suitsupply outposts, there are a good deal of tailoring related services on offer. Other than the aforementioned alterations service, the store also provides a made to measure (“MTM”) service, complete with swatches from Drapers and the Vitale Barberis Canonico mainline. A partially relevant observation – on the evening that press were invited to attend the store’s soft opening – is that the personal style of many Suitsupply Hong Kong employees errs on the fashionable side. Taking cues from Japanese retailers (e.g. Beams & United Arrows), the Hong Kong team are on the cutting edge when it comes to lithe vaguely Italian styling and are sure to find an eager customer base in the city’s burgeoning crowd of young professionals.
For everyone else, it is reassuring to know that Hong Kong’s retail scene shows signs of targeting beyond the haplessly rich and haplessly slovenly.
Suitsupply Hong Kong is located at New Henry House, 10 Ice House Street, Central.
For inquiries, please phone +852 5808 9488.
Photos courtesy of Nico Battersby