DESIGN NOTES: London’s V&A Museum To Open Design Museum in Shenzhen, 2016

Something new and note worthy, and to arrive in 2016 is Shenzhen’s future Shekou Museum, which will act as China’s first major public building devoted strictly to all things “Design”. What’s more, London’s Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum has officially signed a partnership and operations agreement to have its first Asian outpost at the new building to be designed by Japanese modernist architect, Fumihiko Maki.

The 27.2 Million USD museum, located in Shenzhen’s Shekou District, is situated in a masterplan also designed by Maki dubbed the “Shenzhen Sea World Cultural Arts Centre” (which made my eyebrow raised but whatever) and is a full on project developed by China Merchants Group (CMG). In the contract between the V&A and CMG, the English institution has agreed to play an advisory role for the museum, developing content for future rotating shows and exhibiting from their own collection. According to a statement released by the V&A, it aims to use its collaboration with CMG to promote the best of Chinese design to an international audience and vice versa. Hong Kong’s M+ museum geared towards “visual culture”, which basically means “design”, will open a year later in 2017.

DESIGN Fumihiko Maki / VISIT Shenzhen: City of Design

JJ.

#theWanderlist: The Best Sunday Brunch Yet

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A wet and rain-soaked weekend is coming up, so I thought I’d share with you photos from two of my favorite Sunday brunch joints in Hong Kong… you know just in case those junk boating plans fall through. Whenever Sunday rolls around, everyone always asks the same question… What is the best brunch in Hong Kong??? And if you’re like me, you think it’s a Google search away, when in reality, the information you’d get online as feedback could even be more painful to get through. Let me help.

The “Best brunch” depends on a lot of factors for different people. Some are all about “views” and some are about “ambiance”. For me, that criteria is important, however in addition, I find the most important elements of a great Sunday brunch is that A. It has to be Western (unless it’s outright dimsum which is fine), B. It’s gotta serve amazing juice, coffee, and bloody maries, C. Eggs. It’s gotta serve eggs or eggy dishes well, and lastly D. The special Added extra something that only a unique restaurant can provide… and its not necessarily champagne. (Though that’s an easy tack on that’s very welcome.)

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+ “Old World Becomes New Classic” // The Principal

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The Principal, is one of Hong Kong’s classic hidden gems, located on a little tucked-in corner on Star Street. The restaurant, owned by the Press Room Group, IS a destination that doubles as a sleepy neighborhood locale. The interiors are fresh, clean, and crisp… and earthy. Reflected ceiling is in timber, the back wall is clad in light clay brick tiling, and the seating in a light beige and brown madras with a slight blue-grey tint. Tables all have a bit of plant life in a clay pot, everything seems very… mediterranean. The design for the fit out, by Australian studio, Hecker Guthrie, serves as a nice and subtle backdrop for the restaurant’s offerings, delicacies reminiscent of old world flavors, but adapted for a modern, urban palate which expects innovation.

Executive Chef, Jonay Armas, honed his craft in Michelin-starred restaurants in Spain, including La Terraza del Casino and El Chaflan in Madrid, and El Raco de Can Fabes in Barcelona. Regularly, meals at The Principal come in three “travel” inspired set menus, but for the Sunday Brunch, it’s the world’s buffet… direct to your table.

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The menu begins with a “Picnic”, when the waiter brings to your table a wicker basket filled with items and things in glass jars, tin cans, and cheese wrapped in paper. Items in the basket, which are then carefully laid out on the table include; a Strawberry and rhubarb yoghurt mousse, cold cuts and cheese, liver pate, Moroccan-inspired hummus, Anchovies in Vinegar-garlic-olive oil, and freshly baked bread.

For some people in Europe, that’s it for Brunch… but if you’re a guest at the Principal, like me and my sister were… it’s the first course of a six course meal. 

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For the rest of the meal (you know, it’s 6 courses like I said), we were served a delicious ceviche, tempura made of seasonal vegetables, eggs cooked sunny side up in front of us and served with free range bacon, and lastly for savory, the Sunday Roast… a Spanish suckling pig served “Korean Style”, wrapped in lettuce.

And of course, there’s no full meal without… Desserts!

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These beautiful creations include cakes that taste like Snickers Bars, frozen raspberries with pop rocks, Pina Colada Profiteroles, chocolate meringue lollipops, and of course… Churros. Delicious.

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Service at The Principal is extremely on point, and attentive. And for a price of 740HKD, the six course Sunday Brunch also comes with bottomless Champagne (a Brut Le Mesnil-sur-Oger), a selection of Wine /Beer, Juices, fancy water, and Graffeo Coffee or Harney and Sons Teas. NOT BAD. Great even!

+ “Dockside and Farm Fresh Simplicty” // Fish & Meat

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Fish & Meat is definitely one of my most favorite new restaurants in Hong Kong. Not only is it designed by one HK-based designer I admire (and whom I had the pleasure of interviewing before), Ben McCarthy of Charlie & Rose, but the Fish AND the Steak are both equally divine… at least for dinner! I was recently invited to taste the new brunch menu which has just launched last month… and it’s just not any other brunch menu… it’s brunch… with the addition of a BUTTERMILK. PANCAKE. STATION. I kid you not.

For mains on offer here (besides the Buttermilk Pancake Station itself with homemade toppings like Vanilla Cream and Caramel Sauce)… is an Organic poached egg Brioche with Truffle, Pan Fried Sea Bream with fennel and green pea puree, Organic Sunny Side Eggs, and a Cedar River Prime Sirloin… to name a few of what our table consumed. 

Unlike The Principal, Fish & Meat is really visible to its neighborhood location on the corner of Glenealy and Wyndham Street, with the right amount of glazing on both sides to let plenty of sunshine in, and vantages to the city out. Ambiance? Design? Check. Views? Check. 

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Fish and Meat’s general philosophy, a sensitivity towards “farm to table” methods of sourcing, preparation, and serving are all on point even for Sunday Brunch and is evident. It really feels like you’re being served farm fresh food in a farm fresh environment. Compared to The Principal, you can get more relaxed here and be a little bit louder… but then again, it depends on what kind of mood you want for Sunday Brunch.

I also had my fill of the “Cold Buffet”, a selection of fresh oysters and mussels, and a few salads made of beetroot gravlax, crab, watercress, squash, asparagus, and even the basic Ceasar is also available. There’s a delicious farfalle pasta in red pesto and burrata also on offer for those carb-inclined.

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Service at Fish & Meat is also quite good and personable, and generally matches the menu’s casual attitude. The mains are delicious, but you know… if you can do it… have the the Steak or the eggs. You won’t regret it!

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So that’s my brunch wrap up, a picture summary of my two favorite brunch places. It’s not too sceney nor is it overwhelming. They’re both buffets on an intimate scale, and with each having their own unique offerings. If you check out any one of these brunch places this weekend, be sure to tag me on Instagram @theWanderlister, so I can inspect and comment on all your delicious #SundayBrunch #FoodPorn.

EAT The Principal . 9 Star Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong . T: +852-25633444 / EAT Fish & Meat, 32 Wyndham Mansions, Central, Hong Kong . T: +852-25656788

JJ.

SG_WOMEN_615x100 New Season

#JJStyle: Good Girl Gone Bad, JOURDEN AW14

Hong Kong’s hottest womenswear line, JOURDEN, is going global and will be the upcoming line soon at Opening Ceremony stores in New York City and Los Angeles. Their Autumn-Winter 2014 collection is an evolution of a JOURDEN girl growing up.

Via JOURDEN:

The collection presents a number of distinctive silhouettes, including shell & polo tops, sheer ribbed jumpers, pleated, trapeze and marquee skirts, dresses, high-waisted shorts, perfecto bikers and hunter jackets. AW ‘14 showcases the label’s signature skirts manifested in new shapes of trapeze and marquee. While the flimsy confetti fabric is transformed into thicker, stormy black and navy versions, the quilt motif also reappears in white and blue interpretations. Continuing a strong yet subtle love of uniform aesthetics, the looks are completed with polo tops trimmed with prominent zippers, a unique adornment displayed throughout the collection, or crude shell tops embellished with sharp yellow, green, red and navy stripes.

JOURDEN shies away from an overt sex appeal, focusing instead on reinstating elements of strength from the original perfecto biker jacket. It is offered in variations of cashmere wool, quilted confetti and duvet motif, as well as mohair fun fur paired up with shimmer fabrics.

via Creative Director, Anais Mak:

“The JOURDEN girl is crusty, candid and determined, but also introvert at times. Every season, I try to make the girl speak up a little bit more. The contrasts between the disciplined, time-honored blocks, and the bold fabrics in each piece exhibits unexpected juxtapositions of the girl. In our times, to be proper means very rebellious.”

The rest of the collection will be available at Liger Hong Kong, along with select premium retailers in Tokyo, Shanghai & Taipei.

WEAR Jourden

JJ.

#theWanderlist: Happiness Is Just A NoLIta Morning

New York’s NoLIta district is a little area between Little Italy and Soho, which is defined by Houston Street on the north, Bowery on the east, Broome Street on the South, and Lafayette Street on the west. I discovered Nolita the other day at the strong advice of my friend, Katrina (someone who really needs a #Wanderlister blog of her own.)

Nolita was dubbed by the real estate community as such in the mid 90’s to reflect the neighborhood’s yuppy gentrification. The real Italians moved out, and instead moving in is a great selection of independent fashion boutiques, keeping NoLIta free of hideous Italian restaurant tourist traps, and Old Navy.

SOHO has turned into a mall (a long long time ago), while neighborhoods like the West Village or Madison Avenue may be a bit too label oriented… so people come to Nolita for an indie rare-finds shopping Saturday. On my itinerary the other day, I went to visit an amazing curated shop by Katrina’s friend, ate brunch at an I-cant-believe-its-a-vegan-joint called, The Butcher’s Daughter, and checked out some art at the New Museum on the Bowery. But first… best to start with the right foot with a much caffeine fix at the Nolita Gimme! Coffee.

+ DRINK // Gimme! Coffee

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Gimme! Coffee was a specialty coffee shop I treated myself to when a reward was in order during in college at upstate New York. Slightly more expensive than on-campus cups o’ joes, Gimme! Coffee’s highly rated roasts are just that much better than most everything in the market for low-key on-the-go coffee. Gimme! Coffee also makes their money supplying coffees to different restaurants and businesses, and sources their beans straight from a farm in Colombia, paying a competitive price, so the farmer can cut out abusive middle men. 

In 2006, Gimme! Coffee was awarded the best espresso bar in Manhattan by the New York Times, and Roast Magazine picked Gimme! Coffee to win last year’s Roaster of the Year. To me, it’s just damn great coffee that can give you the fuel for those long day urban adventures… which begins with…

+ SHOP // Creatures of Comfort

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Via an introduction from Katrina, I was able to get a great sneak into Creatures of Comfort, a quirky and niche shopping destination in the city for women who aim to dress for everyday simplicity with a statement. The store’s manager, Cath Martin, gladly showed me around, introducing the LA-based shop’s curation of the stylishly messy, easy, lazy, and elegant… (basically anything that resembles Isabel Marant.) Oh, there’s an area for bored boyfriends as well… at the guy’s section towards the front, also very well curated, as expected.

Designers at CoC include Norse Projects, J.W Anderson, Christophe Lemaire, Rachel Comey, Kara Walker, Common Projects, Cosmic Wonder, Band of Outsiders, Robert Clergerie, and many others, including the prominently displayed in-house lightweight womenswear collection, also called, Creatures of Comfort.

Founder, Jade Lai, wasn’t there the day I went to shop, but she’s from Hong Kong herself, educated at at Otis College, and learned what she could of the rag trade from her Dad, Jimmy Lai, founder of Giordano. (The parallels end there.) Check it out, it’s a neat place to shop, and if you live in New York, CoC always hosts different events and popups in collaboration with artists, creatives, and the brands they carry.

+ EAT // The Butcher’s Daughter

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The Butcher’s Daughter is great go-to brunch place any day of the week. Regular customers rate it very well, better than traditional media, but for what you get ie. healthy, vegetarian, vegan that doesn’t scream it, to me it’s impressive. I chose to sit in a stool at the corner of the shop so I can face the window and view outside to do a bit of NoLIta people watching. However, there are plenty of big communal tables here indoor and out if you choose to bring a big party of friends.

For lunch I ordered, “Spicy Kale Ceasar Salad”, at 14USD it’s a big hefty meal, which consisted of a bowl of local kale, a generous portion of avocado, delicious bits of almond parmesan, toasted almonds, shallots, croutons, and heaping side of tempeh (which basically made it taste like I was having some kind of grilled chicken on top.) I usually hate green grass juice that hippies drink, but I loved the “Green Simple Juice” they recommended, which was basically cucumber, Kale, and green apple…hmmm. Can still taste it now!

+ VISIT // New Museum

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The New Museum, a building designed by Japan’s SANAA, is generally a mixed bag of programming, but whenever i’m there, I always luck out with good shows. Lucky me I guess. When all is said, done, and purchased in NoLIta, on the Bowery a few blocks down from the shops is the said museum at just the right boutique size that you can pretty much spend the last few pre-dinner hours getting your culture fill.

I really enjoyed the exhibition by Icelandic artist, Ragnar Kjartansson, who for his exhibit, displayed a looping video scene with a live guitar orchestral performance, titled Take Me Here by the Dishwasher: Memorial for a Marriage 2011/2014. For the whole day, and the duration of the exhibition, 10 musicians play a lose and live harmonic performance to accompany a video where a character (played by the artist’s mother) gets swept off her feet by a plumber (played by the artist’s father), when eventually they do the nasty. The musicians add the dialogue via music.

Also on display, a show by Camille Henrot, titled The Restless Earth. I’m a big fan of this Parisian artist’s body of research in regards to visual representation, digital archiving, and the documentation of artifacts of cultures and items found within the “natural world” and how it gets transformed physically and conceptually via modern desires, modern use, and modern science. I fit all of what she does in one sentence… so I guess I really am a fan.

Shows at New Museum rotate each month, so there’s always something to return to here, worth supporting. Even if you only have a hour.

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Before I forget, if you go to Creatures of Comfort, make sure to check out my friends, Katrina and Jason’s copy of BITE ME Magazine. It’s in New York (including all other cities in the world), and there’s just no excuse not to own one delicious bite of this amazing publication.

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DRINK Gimme! Coffee NoLIta . 228 Mott Street, New York City, NY . T: +12122264011 / SHOP Creatures of Comfort . 205 Mulberry St, New York City, NY . T: +12129251005 / EAT The Butchers Daughter . 19 Kenmare Street, New York City, NY . T: +12122193434 / VISIT New Museum . 235 Bowery, New York NY . T: +12122191222

JJ.

SG_WOMEN_615x100 New Season 

DESIGN NOTES: Past, Present, and Pancakes at Stack

You think pancakes are delicious… now think of a place in Hong Kong which serves pancakes and crepes all day… then think about those pancakes and crepes be specially prepared and paired with a different kind of alcoholic beverage for each pancake… and then now think about eating those pancakes and crepes in a really cool corner shop with a super fresh “retro-chic” look by the Award Winning architectural design team at WALL Studio…. now think about the Twins Kitchen / Common Ground team making your pancakes…then you’ve pretty much got the hottest new all-day breakfast destination in town at STACK in Sai Ying Pun, of course (where else?)

STACK is a new destination dining concept by twins, Josh and Caleb Ng from Common Ground, focused on creating a pancake joint serving American style carb loaded goodies just the way you want them. But the all day pancake experience is also available with a little protein… we’re talking short ribs, seafood, and pulled pork… amongst other items on the menu.

According to the founders and the designers, the interior concept for STACK is about celebrating the fusion between past and present, extrapolating from the history and the current transformation of the Sai Ying Pun district. Walking in, you’d notice a combination of patterned tiles and iron gates reminiscent of architecture and sidewalks of Hong Kong of ‘yore. The interior and exterior neon signage reflects Hong Kong’s disco heyday in the 70’s… exactly the last time “Wanchai” was cool.

Stack opens on July 12th and will be serving drinks and dinner from 6pm to 11:30pm everyday… but closed on Mondays. See you there! (Get a jog in before hand! You’ll need it!)

EAT STACK . GF 1, 3rd Street, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong . T: +852 25499787 / DESIGN Wall . 2C, 3-5 Gough Street, Central, Hong Kong . T: +852 98634306

JJ.

Seen&Scene: Kara Walker’s Not-So-Subtle Gesture

This past weekend marked the final days for Kara Walker’s cultural hinge project, A Subtlety, located in the soon to be demolished, Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.The exhibition, one of Walker’s largest works to date, is a supposed tribute to the African-American women who helped underpin American sugar trade in the 1800s (amongst other issues), and drew an attendance of an approximate 130,000 visitors during it’s free 2 month, weekend only run.

I briefly touched on the show on a post about Williamsburg last month, but I thought I’d share a few more photographs of the exhibit, because there’s so much more that was there than what I’ve previously posted.

New York City based, Walker, has had a few solo exhibitions, including one at the Met, the Walker Art Museum (Minneapolis), and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Her past work touches on similar themes to what was displayed at Domino, mainly slavery, racial exploitation, and gender roles. This latest work, a large statue of a female sphinx and her children workers… made of 35 tons of sugar… is an “urban installation” from a site and scale perspective… Also because the work is open to the public and sited in an abandoned factory of historical value.

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After a 10-25 minute wait outside the factory grounds, groups would slowly meander into the factory’s cavernous space and be greeted by life size statues of children made of molasses, carrying baskets. By the time I saw the show last month, the statues were in various forms of decay (and smell).

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The baskets’ contents were not that appetizing either.

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Generally the show was well received by most art critics. The public offered visual and textual feedback via the #KaraWalkerDomino hashtag on twitter and Instagram. A predictable few have made it a point to feedback in kind with offensive poses (as expected with a work where female body parts are exposed.) And by any merit, Walker’s “Sugar Momma” Sphinx sculpture has successfully achieved via art a divisive dialogue regarding history, slavery, and the state of its role in the everyday social-political psyche specific to the American context.

In any rate I was impressed… By the show, it’s scale, and it’s positioning in an extremely gentrified whitewashed Williamsburg. More importantly, Kara Walker’s position as a female artist of a minority group achieving work of Eliasson proportions is a great direction for women in art. If only Hong Kong’s urban art, posited important issues about what really affect us today; eg. rising property prices, displacement, consumption, etc, in a grand scale… and not just a duck on the harbour or pandas in a plaza… but something more integrative. 

We shall see. Glad I was there when this was on show. More please.

ARTIST Kara Walker

JJ.

SG_WOMEN_615x100 New Season

DESIGN NOTES: Jamie’s Italian HK by Martin Brudnizki and Barnaby Purdy

Hong Kong has really made it to the Culinary tourist’s Destination map when the likes of celebrity chefs begin establishing outposts here from abroad. I mean you’ve got the big guys (no pun intended) like Mario Batali’s Lupa or even more set back and subdued experiences like Restaurant Akrame by Chef Akrame Benallal. Those are the direct imports. Then there are the celebrity Chefs from abroad who, in a way, have used Hong Kong as a path of their journey to the top, by collaborating with local entrepreneurs, like Chef Jason Atherton.

Big news is the arrival of Jamie Oliver’s first restaurant, Jamie’s Italian HK, in Hong Kong, an Italian (safe I know) destination restaurant, about to open in Causeway Bays’ now uber-chic, Soundwill Plaza 2 Midtown (the one that looks and smells like a W Hotel, it’s even got an inverted W font, now an “M” to make that point). I want to show these preview renderings of the interiors, by UK based Martin Brudnizki Design Studio (MBDS), focused on a “fully transparent dining experience”, which apparently revolves around the ingredients. Jamie Oliver’s long time friend, urban artist, Barnaby Purdy, will do a one-of-a-kind mural incorporating elements of the Chinese zodiac (ie. locality factor, of course.) Local artists will also be invited to submit designs to Jamie, who will then vet them to add additional art on the restaurant’s walls.

Via Jamie’s Italian:

Drawing in elements of the restaurants’ local surroundings, MBDS alludes to Causeway Bay’s historical days as a fishing village, by introducing a quirky shipping container in the kitchen area and a sliding ships ladder at the antipasti bar. By contrast, five two-tiered chandeliers will light up the restaurant with a touch of glamour and draw attention to the signature Jamie’s Italian’s teal banquettes, featured throughout. Finally as a nod to its traditional British heritage, Kingfisher coloured tiles will adorn the restaurants’ columns, reminiscent of London’s bustling subway.

The 12,100 sq. ft. of open space will use differing colours and textures to denote different sections - red banquettes around the antipasti bar, sleek black tiles for the spacious open kitchen, beautiful timber flooring for the seating areas, and large cooling slate tiles throughout the entrances and corridors. Using a complementary yet contrasting pallet of colours and materials throughout, MBDS creates a dynamic and visually compelling atmosphere so that the restaurant can achieve its two key focuses of food and people - through his exploration of the concept of the ‘theatre of food’, which seeks to excite the senses of all guests.

To access Jamie’s Italian, diners can take the escalator up to the restaurant from the ground floor. At first view, the lively theatrics of fresh pastas made daily on-site and an enticing view of freshly made breads on display and cured meats, such as Levoni hams hanging in tempting rows, will set stomachs rumbling. Off to the side a long seated-bar will feature bottles of fine Italian wines, providing a perfect backdrop to the welcoming reception area.

EAT Jamie’s Italian Hong Kong . 2F, Soundwill Plaza II Midtown, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong / DESIGN Martin Brudnizki Design Studio / ART Barnaby Purdy

JJ.

#JJStyle: Form, Shape, Colour, and Matter Matters

Look what i’m very much into at this moment. By the looks of the photographs of the latest products to come out of Hong Kong above… you can probably tell why. Modern Form? Check. Color Blocking? Check. Simplicity? Check. References to to Art and Architectural History like Art Deco, Post Modernism, the Bauhaus, Hopper, Warhol, Hockney, and Max Huber? Check.

The new Hong Kong based accessories label, Matter Matters, puts its fresh designer, Flora Leung, on the forefront of what and why “Design” really “matters” in Hong Kong, NOW. Since launching the brand at a pop-up shop at K11 end of 2013, Leung’s amazingly sharp and classic collection has been covered by the likes of Blouin Artinfo, Refinery29, Vogue Italia, and NOWFASHION. It’s really great that this is coming out of Hong Kong, and too an amazing testament to Leung, who’s had enough of a vision to get her act together to provide a niche product for the local market, which also happens to speak to a global fashion and design audience.

Years of working at a vintage shop selling Chanel’s and Hermes Kelly bags, allowed Leung to observe and see what it is that people are really into. And time and time again, they would always purchase classic bags over seasonal trendy styles. This got her thinking about her own label, Matter Matters, which she actually debuted and developed for her graduate show at the London College of Fashion in 2012. 

"Why do designers have to rack their brains and constantly come up with new designs," asks Leung in an interview, “You can pay a bit more effort and design something timeless that will run for years, even decades.”

The monogram and logo-free label now consists of fun bags… some an homage to the triangle shape, others an homage to dumplings, plus wallets, totes, and watches for both men and women fans of the label. Check out my own Matter Matters “Bay” Wristwatch via my Instagram account, below

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So talented…. and this is only the first collection!

SHOP Matter Matters Online . Matter Matters Gallery at K11 Select, Shop 101, No.18 Hanoi Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, HK .T: +852 98894198 . For Stockists in Paris and Shanghai, Click Here

JJ.

SG_WOMEN_615x100 New Season

#theWanderlist: Menswear For All, New York City

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Going to New York City for work and play gave me a chance to make some visits to a few cool destination stores by my favorite brands, for men. If you’re a guy and you only have a day or two to fit in some shopping in the city, I strongly suggest highlighting Nolita and Bleecker Streets to your lists, since these two neighborhoods carry a good selection of casual menswear brands to fit most tastes.

Please note, nothing in my NYC #wanderlist covers formalwear or suiting, but there are some selections available at a few of these stores that can offer a full range of styles for most any occasion. (For bespoke suiting, I recommend the NYC outpost of Hong Kong’s iconic menswear tailor, The Armoury.)

+ FINE THREADS // Black Fleece on Bleecker Street

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In 2007, Brooks Brothers launched a youth oriented label,Black Fleece, in collaboration with Mr. Thom Browne, who won the 2006 CFDA Award Winner for menswear just a year before. Yearning to break free aesthetically, from their main Brooks Brothers line, the Black Fleece label allows for the brand to offer a selection of menswear for a new generation of guys who may not be so familiar with the traditional Brooks Brothers suiting, but are ready to embrace elements of “dandy” suiting in their day-to-day lives. With Black Fleece, designer Thom Browne gets to make clothing for a wider demographic of men who seek to embrace his modern look, underpinned by the Brooks Brothers level of quality and craftsmanship.

The corner store on Bleecker Street is intimate, carrying both men and women’s. Customers and staff know each other there on a first name basis, and when I went, everyone who showed up at the store, were pretty much return customers. This is a good thing for me to notice, especially because the clothes are so playfully quirky and a-traditional. I suppose the intimacy in shopping experience for Black Fleece is really about the support of their customers who just “get” the brand concept from the get-go. (And FYI, the service quality in Hong Kong’s flagship on Wyndham Street is absolutely the same level. Top notch and personal. I hope they keep it up!)

+ STREET STYLE // Saturday’s Surf NYC on Crosby Street

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Yes, Saturday’s is an urban shop in New York City for those into surfing culture. I know… crazy right, because where can you actually surf in Manhattan!? While I was there, twice, during my last trip, I did witness a guy purchase a surfboard and then packing it up on the spot. So yes, in New York City, surf sells at Saturday’s Surf NYC.

Saturday’s is essentially a casual men’s shop selling “street style” with a splattering of elegant buttoned down looks and up-market T’s and sweatshirts. The reason why I support this local brand, which first opened its doors in 2009, is that while it speaks to a particularly niche and quirky customer (urbanites who are engrossed in surfing culture), its collection… from apparel, to bags, to shoes, to accessories, pretty much have a strong and consistent aesthetic base line which a broader design-focused demographic can appreciate. Everything is either grey, black, or primary colors in palette, and for the patterns or stripes that appear in their collection, it’s pretty bold in a pop art kind of way… yet clean and modern. This kind of stylistic integrity is a great position to be in, especially for a young brand wanting to make a mark in casual street wear.

Some of my favorite things about the shop… browsing Saturdays Magazine, the brand’s modern take on the classic surfer magazine and checking out the back garden where you can just sit and chill with a cup of delicious La Colombe coffee from their destination coffee shop in store.

+ ARMED CANDY // Miansai on Crosby Street

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Miansai’s Crosby Street location in Nolita has only been operating for less than a year (opened in December 2013), but already it seems like the flagship has been there since the establishment of its brand in 2008. Founded in Miami, by New York born, Michael Saiger, Miansai’s men’s jewellery is now coolly retailed in 40 US States and 36 countries, including Mr. Porter (which ships internationally), and Kapok, Harvey Nichols, and Lane Crawford, here in Hong Kong.

The Crosby street location offers the full array of Miansai’s products, plus leather goods, with all items Made in the USA by its team of 30 craftsmen. If you’ve been shopping in Asia, and think you’ve seen all of what Miansai has to offer re: nautical themed bracelets, think again, this tiny shop in New York carries everything you’ve seen and so much more, including new designs, fixings, and clasps, recently launched for its 2014 collection of wares.

My favorite is the cuff design,  made of .925 Sterling Silver, 14K Gold and Rose Gold, and for some items, 18K Gold. Have a sip and sit in the in-house tea room as you enjoy browsing and the trying on of all things Miansai. (FYI. You can also build your own bracelet.)

+ CURATED STYLE // Odin New York on Lafayette

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10 year old menswear boutique, Odin, has been on the curated menswear scene way before menswear became a staple on everything from everyone’s Pinterest and TUMBLR boards, to their multiple-broque closets. Founded by partners, Paul Birardi (ex-buyer at Macy’s) and Eddy Chai (ex-advertising art director), Odin has held their own, courting working gents from all walks of life who care about fashion and style, plus now college students and even some female shoppers.

The store on Lafayette Street, a 2000 square foot, ex-Chinese Noodles factory, was a hands-on experience for the founders, building and designing everything themselves to house menswear multi-brands from the ground up. Since establishing the boutique, Odin has collaborated with American retail giants like Target, the Gap, and boutique labels like Matsuda, Rag & Bone, Common Projects, Mark McNairy, Alex Mill, Todd Snyder, and Engineered Garments.

The Lafayette Street shop offers personal styling services for a wide range of products available from the house’s own label to the likes of Thom Browne’s main line, which I bought a few pieces on sale.

+ ALL AROUND STYLE // Club Monaco Men’s on 5th

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Not quite in Nolita and Bleecker (we’re talking 5th Avenue), but just a walk away from the iconic burger joint, Shake Shack in Madison Square Park where my friend Andy and I had our lunch, is the heaven that is Club Monaco’s 5th Avenue store. I don’t know about you, but I’m obsessed about all things Club Monaco (and its been a few years now), since I’ve done style collaborations with them in Hong Kong years ago and since their menswear line was taken on board by Menswear designer, Aaron Levine.

The 5th Avenue store is indeed a mecca for those who are “Club Monanites” (okay Made this moniker up) offering a full selection of CM classics, essentials, and specialty seasonal items in playful prints, colors, and elegant (ie. non baggy) and fitting menswear silhouettes. Accessories and outerwear complement easy to wear CM items from the brand and partner “Made-In-America” labels. Shoes include a great selection from Grenson and New Balance. The huge two-story store looks like an old-time Department Store from the turn of the century, and also fits a florist, a bookstore by the Strand, and an outpost by my favorite Williamsburg café, Toby’s, for those inclined to stay awhile after a full shopping experience.

+ GROOMING // Fellow Barber on Crosby St,

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On Crosby Street adjacent to Miansai and Saturday’s, be sure to check out, Fellow Barber, one of four of these barber locations in New York City and Brooklyn. Fellow Barber is committed to offering all patrons a traditional barbershop experience without the pretense of a salon. Because everything is “traditional”, all Fellow Barbers are expertly trained to provide classic men’s cuts with straight-razor shaves.

The shop on Crosby Street carries a wide array of products, including shaving kits, body soaps, and moustache/beard wax for the discernible gentleman.

SHOP Black Fleece West Village . 351 Bleecker Street, New York NY 10014 . T: +12129292763 /  SHOP Saturday’s Surf NYC . 31 Crosby Street, New York NY 10013 . T: +12129667875 / SHOP Miansai Nolita . 33 Crosby Street, New York NY . T: +12128589710 / SHOP Odin New York Nolita/SOHO . 199 Lafayette Street, New York NY . T: +12129660026 / SHOP Club Monaco on 5th Avenue . 160 5th Avenue, New York NY 10010 . T: +12123520936 / VISIT Fellow Barber Nolita . 33 Crosby Street, New York NY . T: +12129296014

JJ.

SG_WOMEN_615x100 New Season

#JJStyle: Climbing High, the Kapok Bracelet Collection

Those who follow me on Instagram and on this blog, know that for this year i’ve completely re-feng-shui’d my life. And Because of this… i’ve got a few additional style items in the home and on me that I have to incorporate and get used to. For example, like I need to make sure that I have a continuously running water feature on the South corner of my flat, and having to constantly wear blue (or white or black), avoiding red at all costs on my persons, and (this one I like) getting used to wearing gold, silver, or metallic jewellery… and lots of it. 

Before this I never used to wear jewellery because I thought it was silly and lacked purpose (I used to be more of a no-bracelet-flair-one-watch-guy). Boy have I changed.

If you’ve seen my Instagram the last two months alone, you’d notice some newfound arm candy that i’ve been hooked on to since discovering certain brands, like Miansai, which are considered jewellery, and have real gold and silver elements which matched my whole dapper look. The best thing about Miansai is, it doesn’t look like traditional jewellery, but it counts towards my feng shui prescription, and looks great in a suit or on the beach. I purchased my first Miansai at Hong Kong’s curated shop, Kapok, just a couple of months ago… a golden cuff.

Now, months later, Kapok (also a fashion and accessories label) is releasing their own line of bracelets which basically gives Miansai a run for its money. Dubbed the Kapok Bracelets Collection, the collection, produced in limited quantities, is really tailored for guys and gals who love the rougher things in life like sports and being outdoors. The collection was launched by Kapok’s co-founder, Carlos Granon, who himself is an avid rock climbing enthusiast… hence the bracelet’s rock climbing inspired details like the incorporation of rope knots methodology, pulley systems, and harness clasps. Two styles, the Kalymnos and the Yosemite, are named after two renowned climbing spots in the Aegean Sea in Greece and in California, respectively.

I can’t wait to get my hands on a few. Bye Bye Miansai! (maybe?) 

Enjoy the photos of the bracelets on actual rock climbers, set against the Hong Kong skyline’s gorgeous backdrop.

WEAR Kapok Bracelet Collection . Kapok Online / Kapok on 5 St. Francis Yard, Wanchai, Hong Kong . T: +852-25499254

JJ.

SG_WOMEN_615x100 New Season