Since starting Colonial Goods around a year ago, I’ve come across many people who I know could hold meaningful conversations with me whether it was 5, 10, or even 20 years from now. I value friendships like these a lot, and when you add #Menswear to the relationship, shit gets real.
I collaborated with Carmen Chan on this and went around the city snapping the steezy/crispy/fresh/swag/wavy/jawzned-out men of Hong Kong on a Mamiya. This isn’t a ranking of any sort, that’s not the point. With all the action that’s happening in New York, Milan, and Paris, I wanted to use this opportunity to capture the up and coming menswear scene here in Asia. Despite all that China wealth lined up outside the Prada/Gucci/D&G stores here in Hong Kong, I have faith that genuine quality and style will thrive.
It was incredibly unfortunate I couldn’t make the festivities over at (capsule) this time around, but thankfully The Real Ryan Ho held the swagger fort down for Hong Kong. Thanks to Justin Chung over at WATM as well as the honorable Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist for these pics. Girls in Hong Kong are crying over that LBM joint.
I’m looking forward to wrapping up a project I’ve been working on with Carmen Chan — a promising LA/HK-based photographer who I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about in the near future. It’s always fun working with other young and talented people in the city, hustling like none other.
Nothing too complicated, I basically wanted to showcase a few good friends of mine whose styles reflected the subtly refined chivalry so often associated with “classic menswear”. Sounds pretentious and androcentric, but I assure you all of these guys are some of the most cordial, most interesting, and most exerent people I’ve ever come across. Each shoot was scheduled very last minute, but it wasn’t a problem since these dudes dress like this on the regular. Everything was shot on medium format 120 film with the Mamiya RZ67, giving us incredible depth and authentic, organically produced captures.
Hong Kong’s fashion scene is overcrowded with a lot overpriced and downright weird stuff. Obviously everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but when the quality versus price ratios are at polar opposites, you’ll start having people complaining. That, along with Abercrombie’s latest efforts in capitalizing on the Chinese market, we’re on the brink of a sartorial crisis.
Anyway, don’t not take this too seriously. Best dressed real men in Hong Kong. Coming soon.
“Made in Hong Kong” is different from the “Made in China”, and Ascot Chang is undoubtedly one of the better known names in the business of bespoke shirt-making. Fleeing Shanghai in 1949 after the communist encroachment, shirt-maker Ascot Chang arrived in Hong Kong with a set of skills acquired under the tutelage of artisans hailing from Savile Row to the Kremlin. Business for Ascot initially involved taking door-to-door orders during the day and late hours at night working with thread and thimble. Dexterity and perseverance mix well, and a couple years later Ascot opened his first store on Kimberly Road. Upgrades ensued when a store was opened at The Peninsula in the ‘60s, followed by one in New York and one in Beverly Hills during the late ‘80s.
Justin Chang now works alongside his father, Tony Chang, under his grandfather’s eponymous label. Anyone familiar with them would agree they’re some of the kindest and most humble people you’d ever meet. I find this quality so crucial, especially for a tailoring house like that of AC, because it’s the balance of confidence and modesty that enables a brand to stay true to its roots while pursuing more adventurous inspirations with regard to style. Participation of style-consultant Michael Macko (who documented his recent visit to Hong Kong on Valet) in Ascot Chang’s recent collections speaks boldly of the brand’s willingness to diversify and experiment with different things. Take a peek at their Fall/Winter 2011 collection. Alpha Chang.
What’s interesting from here on is how the Changs will mold the future of their pieces not just based on the “classic menswear” stuff we’re starting to see all over the place, but pushing the envelope further and possibly incorporating Asian elements in a mature way to distinguish themselves from other brands. Being a Hong Kong tailor and menswear label with a wealth of experience, they’re in the perfect position to really identify with the up and rising luxury Chinese consumers in the coming years by providing more than just tailored clothing, but garments with a genuine oriental heritage. Obviously this is just my opinion.
Aside from their bespoke services, Ascot Chang has a pretty desirable RTW collection which includes various shirts, trousers, knits, coats and other accessories. Their hand-stitched collection (see pick-stitching and hand-sewn buttons) is a luxury worth considering if you have money to spend, or you may opt to play it safe with a standard bespoke shirt. I’ll also be following this post up soon with a closer look at the two shirts I have from them.
Instead of doing a whole debut/mission-statement article here, we’d like to dedicate this first post to all the wonderful individuals we’ve come across so far since starting Colonial Goods around a year ago. The internet, specifically Tumblr, has provided unforeseen opportunities for people of style and brands of substance. Whether you’re an Academy award blogger or just a casual reader, your support is much appreciated and it’s good to know there are people out there who take interest in the things we do.
Something that seems to be lacking in the conversation on style today, is the potential influence of Chinese culture in fashion. It’s a pitti how we’re now seeing luxury labels cater to the status-consumers of the Chinese nouveau riche. For example, many of the Ralph Lauren stores in Hong Kong are now filled with “Big Pony” merchandise with other weird things on it. The Kiton store here sells completely different products (think designer sneakers and colorful golf jackets) from that of the Kiton store in Milan. You can say it’s the right move from a business perspective, but what if a brand could do something better than employing tacky elements to appeal to the Chinese market? What if a brand could surpass that and incorporate elements of genuine Chinese style, craftsmanship, materials, and artistry that appeals to a global consumer? Currently, Hermes’s Shang Xia brand and Taiwan label Shiatzy Chen seem to be the few that are at the forefront of discovering a whole new direction in terms of style inspiration, manufacturing techniques, and product development as luxury fashion houses embodying an authentic Chinese aesthetic. Strange and foreign pinyin names for sure, but we’ve got a feeling there will only be more to come.