The China Effect: The Day Fashion Died.
In 1997, Hong Kong was handed back to China after years of British rule. Vancouver witnessed this effect first hand, as Hong Kong (HK) residences poured money into Vancouver for fear of Communist party rule, and financial collapse. With bated breath everyone paused as China took control, fortunately nothing major went down and back to business as usual… Well, so we thought.
Fast forward; US and European economies on the brink of collapse; Japan continues a downward spiral to a never-ending recession; the world looks to China. China produces double-digit growth, while manufacturing a bulk of western products. Thus fashion hierarchy cast eyes towards China to secure brand dominance. Result: fashion suicide.
Hong Kong is China’s pearl, known for bold style and colourful plate, always wrong, but somehow right. Celebrity fashion Goddess like Wong Faye, helped launch mega brands into Hong Kong. Alas, with Canto-pop out, and Hong Kong’s film industry in tatters, China has picked up the style slack—which cast shades of grey.
China is like the “new” rich kid on the block begging for “cool” friends. The “cool” kids will hang with you, but watch your back because what you see as fashion is only FaceTime for the shops, with watered down clothes masquerading as style. The “cool” kids can be so cruel.
I spend a lot of time in Asia, mainly Japan, however this fall I landed my first trip to Hong Kong. With a chauffeured stretch Benz to whisk me to shops, excitement fluttered ready to unearth HK’s favorite shopping spots—I confess, I love Canto-pop and Hong Kong cinema—but I was not ready for what Hong Kong had to show me.
Hong Kong is one of the most breath-taking places I’ve been thus far in my travels, a majestic wasteland of panoramic scenery and industrial fortitude—HK is a metropolis. Like New York, HK is full of hustle and bustle with abundant cabbie, street food, chic restaurants, and shopping hot spots. Unfortunately this is where comparisons stop.
Mainland China has sucked HK’s fashion gene dry with conservative dressing and brand oppression. We’ve all heard the expression money can’t buy you class, I think China got the message lost in translation. Mainland girls pop out of chauffeured driven cars and maul fashion districts like; a Black AMEX cannot be stopped! I cannot blame China for its fashion despair as mega brands suck the life out of collections to please the masses. Magazines push brands over style to represent fashion, by fooling the “new” rich kid as presenting this as “cool.”
What I did learn is that HK is resilient, as my favorite boutiques were packed each day of shoppers buying goods with style and flare: Joyce Boutique, I.T, and Bauhaus to name a few. The Mainland residences who flock to Hong Kong are looking to be taught personal style and attitude that will put them on-top. New York and Paris dictate fashion business, while Japan pushes style, Milan keeps it commercial, and China keeps money flying high. Fashion is a language used to express our personality each day, let’s not waste our chance. China’s growth is an opportunity to push fashion boundaries.
My Favorite Stores: Hong Kong