The Five Pillars of the Hong Kong Scene
To most gents, Hong Kong is still the land of cheap suits and great dumplings—but in the past few years they’ve kicked off a full-scale tailoring renaissance, with a blend of colonial style and globalist panache that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. It’s on its way to having the best suits in Asia—and we’ve got five reasons why.
It starts with this post, which has set off a flurry of press among the menswear crowd. As it turns out, the city’s home to some of the best-dressed and best-informed tumblrers on the web, including shoe-fetishist Ethan Desu and self-documenter Mistah Wong, roughly the Eastern Hemisphere equivalent of Nick Wooster. Take notes.
The Red Gang Tailors
The style didn’t just pop up out of nowhere. The origins of Hong Kong style go back a hundred years, to their first tailoring school. Students were enrolled at age 14, and put through an intense three-year apprenticeship before they were allowed to work on their own. The graduates were dubbed “the Red Gang,” known for their distinctive blend of Savile Row, Moscow and Tokyo styles. W.W. Chan is one of the few authentic Red Gang shops remaining, but the style shows up all over the city.
Thanks to some clever trade negotiations, China doesn’t have to pay export tax on fabrics coming in from Europe—so Hong Kong tailors can get European cloth a lot cheaper than anyone in the States. If you’re running a made-to-measure business—like Ascot Chang, which ships out 60,000 shirts a year—it’s a pretty good place to set up shop.
Hong Kong’s a humid subtropical climate—which is a fancy way of saying that if it isn’t raining, it’s summer-suit weather. Apparently, without overcoats, work boots or anything snow-related, there’s a lot more room in your clothing budget for fantastic linen suits.
None of that would matter without a brilliant store or two, so it’s a good thing The Armoury showed up. They made headlines recently for buying Drake’s, but they’ve also raised the profile of smaller brands like Osaka’s Ring Jacket and Northamptonshire’s Gaziano & Girling. If you’re ever passing through town, this should be your first stop.
- — Russell Brandom