#JJStyle: Erbert Chong Discovers A Black Metropolis, AW 2014

Ever since I went to check out Erbert Chong’s debut  starting with a SS14 collection this time last year, i’ve been a fan of his understated yet sharp work. “Fierce” is something I would describe Erbert’s overall directive since launch. As I reported before, Erbert is a graduate of no less than three international fashion programmes… Parsons, FIT, and then ESMOD in Paris. 

One year later, his AW14 collection (ie. second line), is about to go on sale. Dubbed Black Metropolis, the latest lookbook campaign, photographed by Rosemary Conway, does its best to give the looks… derived from turn of the century “Old-World glamour and dark occultism”, a proper stage. The looks are feminine, but with a very masculine and architectural raw edge. Of course, Erbert looks to Fritz Lang’s 1927 Futura-Art Deco film, Metropolis, an inspiration source, as are objects and other architectures like the Chrysler Building.

Still quintessentially a Hong Kong designer, Erbert infuses classic silhouettes of the traditional qipao into the mix to help give a sense of height and strength to the his clients who are always all too eager to wear his collection.

Other things to note, the fabrics used in this particular line are specially sourced from Beijing’s oldest historic fabric shop, Rui Fu Xiang, renowned for their history of making handcrafted Chinese silks for traditional cheongsam and qipao dresses.

WEAR Erbert Chong

JJ.

SG_WOMEN_615x100 New Season

#JJStyle: Three Words. MISCHA. Camo. Collection.

As a long time fan, friend, and supporter of MISCHA’s founder/designer, Michelle Lai, i’m very pleased to announce the arrival of an amazing new capsule line she’s created that’s adventurous, innovative, yet still very “on-brand”, dubbed The Camo Collection. 

The Camo Collection retains MISCHA’s signature hexagonal graphic prints, but splatters it all with a new fluid camouflage motif defined by a traditional muted green, but with vibrant pops of color to mix it up. With the new Camo Collection, MISCHA not only breaks out of the brand’s two-tone japanese-inspired motif of the full-on hexagon shape wallpapering the bags, but she may also have to get used to a new kind of clientele… men.

While there have been talks about a 100% menswear collection from MISCHA for a long time (and there still might be in the foreseeable future), this Camo Collection does a great job catering to both women and men who are already big fans of the MISCHA product and aesthetic. That said I expect the line to gain a few MORE fans as well. Much More. The look and the print is something I have not seen in the market, which I think only works here because of the hexagon pattern giving the whole print a really cool base to play off of.

To further celebrate the arrival of the capsule line, MISCHA collaborates with both Lane Crawford and Kapok to supply the shops with limited edition pieces designed exclusively for each store. A limited edition Messenger Backpack (not shown on this post) will be available at all Lane Crawford stores from August 2014 and a special Kapok version of the “Jet Set Tote” featuring Kapok-exclusive colourways and details will also be available at the same time.

I know what I want…  definitely “the Voyager Duffel”, its the best way to escape in style. 

WEAR MISCHA

JJ.

#JJStyle: 200 Steps With Canali - Behind The Scenes

JJ Acuna interview for 200 Steps, Canali.com from Canali on Vimeo.

Before I procrastinate even further this month, since i’m (as of today) quite backlogged on so much work in general… I wanted to put everything on hold and take a moment to give a big warm THANK YOU and show my gratitude to the Italian suiting brand, Canali, for reaching out to us all the way here in Asia for a secret project that we’ve been working on together since March 2014 this year... a profile collaboration for their global web portal, Canali.com.

The project, part of Canali’s 200 Steps series of videos and interviews published on L’Edizione, the brand’s editorial platform, aims to interview “male professionals” like myself from all around the world in a monthly series of videos and oral interviews examining each gentleman’s processes and craft. Each of the talent interviewed is dressed by Canali in tailored wear for that season, and is focused less on the 80-year old brand and more on the interviewees, their work, and inspiration.

Each 200 Steps story is created within a day’s shooting, and culminates in a 2-3 minute interview film, a 30-second “Word Association” film, and a full Q+A article explaining the full context behind each gentleman’s work. I was told that brand director, and a third generation Canali, Ms. Elisabetta Canali, picks the interviewees herself for the global website. I, for one, was surprised to have met her myself at the interview shoot here in Hong Kong. She’s quite cool in person, and was very “hands-on”… really overseeing the whole entire process.

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For my story, Canali’s team wanted to focus on a designer-blogger’s thinking in relation to curation and the formulation of a story or perspective for the digital space. In order to express what I do and how this translates with tactility on film, their production team imagined a large square white canvas to hang centrally within the space… and throughout the two minute video, that canvas get’s filled with images i’ve taken over the years that have been placed on my various social media outlets thus far.

At first I was unsure, since i’ve only known my work to exist in a certain format online, and certainly not on a “white canvas”, however once i’ve spoken with their London team on the phone, and after they themselves have sent me mood board pegs of example “treatments”, portrait shots, and other reference concepts, I quickly got around to enjoying playing around with how they wanted to frame this whole thing to fit both me, my story, and their format.

Anyway, the rest is history as they say!

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Some Behind-The-Scenes Photographs from our shoot….

The “White Canvas” at the start of the evening….

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Gradually filling up slowly…

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The canvas wasn’t allowed to sway back and forth, so the crew really took great pains to secure it on the set.

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Each time a photograph was placed on the canvas, it was captured on film… sometimes two or three times.

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The Director, Jon Clements, was really detail oriented as to the composition of the photographs on the canvas…

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The production team at London’s Spring Creative, plus the brand team at Canali, picked out the all the photographs from all my social media accounts to be placed on this White Canvas. To be honest, when I started the website and the whole “Wanderlister” thing a few years ago… placing all these images online, there was no way I would have anticipated any of this to come to fruition from the content, that up to this point… i’ve only kept on the Digital Space.

Their team picked out the photographs to cover the five topics on my website; Architecture, Art, Design, Food, and Life/Style.

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Taking a step back, seeing it all up there (I put up each of the photographs myself)… it was really something to see. 

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To step back and have all these things jump out from the computer, and be composed in the physical space like this was really cool, weird, strange, and in a way… a general cosmic affirmation of the whole thing that I do. Very interesting how it takes a collaboration with a big global brand, to really force one to assess and define their work. I definitely did some soul searching by doing this interview with Canali. Most of what I said was off-the-cuff, which surprised even myself. It’s like “A-ha”, so that’s what being an Architect by day, and a blogger by night in Asia is all about. It’s even news to me.

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So for that, I thank Elisabetta Canali, the whole Canali House in Milan, and the guys Spring Creative in London for such a great opportunity. I really learned about myself though all of this as well.

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Other 200 Steps profiles include the brand’s new Creative Consultant, fashion designer, Andrea Pompilo

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Design duo, Barber and Osgerby

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Stage actor, Tony Stephens

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And Typographical artist, Job Wouters.

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Check out our FULL INTERVIEW with Canali via 200 Steps plus our “Words Association” Video.

WEAR Canali . Wheelock House, Shop C, Ground Floor, 20 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong . T: +852 2918 1745

JJ.

#theWanderlist: A Style Revival at Bangkok’s Hotel Muse

Thanks to The Luxe Nomad, me and two friends were able to take a summer pause in order to refresh and revive with a quick three-day escape from one urban jungle… into another at Bangkok’s quirky Hotel Muse, part of the “M Gallery” brands of hotels under Accor group. Hotel Muse has actually been in operation for about 4-5 years, and is situated right in the centre of it all, but a little ways away from the actual hustle of Bangkok’s central shopping district, Siam Square, only some stops away on the elevated train. 

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Speaking of elevated train, Hotel Muse is less than a block away from the Phloen Chit stop, which is connected to both, Central Chidlom and the brand new silvery and shiny, Central Embassy Mall. (I was too busy relaxing, so I didn’t even get to go.) That said, who cares about malls, my friends just wanted to get rest, eat, spa, and go to JJ-Market. Thats it. And who can blame them… Hong Kong is already full of malls!

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Hotel Muse, part romantic getaway-part business hotel, is all about “dark sophistication” which is due to its Rama-V era concept, and houses 174 rooms, 11 suites, a sitting library, a full gym (with two bored trainers), a sitting pool (swimming is difficult in there), and a few destination restaurants. People come to Hotel Muse’s Medici restaurant for the best in modern-rustic Italian fare that apparently makes some really great steaks and wine pairings. The Speakeasy is the Muse’s answer to an old-style mixology bar, but with a rooftop view of the city. Su Tha Ros, hosts the hotel’s morning breakfast (which is so-so), but transforms into a wonderful Thai restaurant in the evening that a bunch of my local high-society friends who live there go because it offers a private and more intimate dining experience with authentic Thai fare.

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Generally everyone was happy with their stay. What really made it was that everyone slept so well in Hotel Muse’s beds… ie. could be the best part of the hotel. Everyone, including I, has been so stressed out within the last few weeks that we all agreed, a separation from Hong Kong in general, is a plus… tack on a nice quality bed and you’ve got a winning trip.

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The owner of the Hotel is really into historical nostalgia ie. he has a few personal antique pieces throughout the property. Additionally he loves the word “muse”, because it reminds him of these other words… “music”, “Museum”, “musing”, “amusement park”, etc. which harks back to the concept of creation and exhibition, which to me pretty much describes the hotel’s quirky and showy Asia-Euro-inspired decor. The letter “M” is also everywhere in the hotel, which is tied to this branding with the word “muse” and the “M” Gallery group.

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Whether the style of Interiors is for you or not is dependant on your taste, but the design direction is whimsical where it’s necessary (in the public areas and restaurants) and restrained when needed (in your bedroom.)

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All I know is, anywhere with a DIY Bloody Mary station for breakfast is fine by me.

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When in Bangkok, make sure to make a stop at JJ Market ie. Chatuchak / Jatujak, which I absolutely love. I go there all the time, and I post about it on this blog each time I go because you know what… there’s always something new to see, something new on offer, and the Thais really have style and trends for next year already figured out NOW and have it on offer at Chatuchak. My friends who live there think i’m so silly because they fly to Hong Kong and Japan to shop. That said it’s a different kind of shopping, and it’s not only Thailand… every country I go to, I don’t buy souvenirs… I buy local designer pieces. You know, I’m all about supporting local style ecosystems! If its something you can keep for more than two years (wherever it’s from), then it’s worth it.

Some of the new shops/concepts at Jatujak (Chatuchak) I discovered on this trip include, A Laboratory, a casual his/hers boutique with a bar/cafe adjacent.

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This casual shirts shop called, Kook, with really nice prints.

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This place made great shirts and accessories for men. It’s called, does mondays have an apostrophe before the s?. I kid you not.

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My friend bought two pieces here at Tar Mafia. Who knew?

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I love the ceramic and brass jewellery on offer at Mary Lou.

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I bought quite a few shirts here at SM Object.

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They also had simple accessories on offer.

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This one was my friend’s take home from JJ Market. Insanity.

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We again thank The Luxe Nomad booking website AND Hotel Muse for our wonderful two-night stay in their property. Hotel Muse plus other properties are available at cut rate costs at on that amazing website which specializes in relaxing and tasteful getaways in the region.

Where to next?

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BOOK The Luxe Nomad / STAY Hotel Muse Bangkok . 55/555 Langsuan Road, Ploenchit Road, Lumpini, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand / DRINK The Speakeasy Rooftop Bar / EAT Medici Kitchen & Bar / WEAR A Laboratory . Jatujak Weekend Market, Section 4, Soi 49.2 / WEAR Mary Lou . Jatujak Weekend Market, Section 4 Soi 2, Shop Number 083 

JJ.

SG_WOMEN_615x100 New Season

DESIGN NOTES: A Panoply of Dreams, Omar Khan Home Collection Debuts

My pal whom I first met in Hong Kong, Parsons graduate and amazing designer, Omar Khan, made a name for himself doing great visual merchandising work for On Pedder and then Joyce before going solo doing freelance work for events, and as a spatial designer under his new company, The Omar Khan Collective. Omar then moved from Hong Kong to Malaysia a few years ago, to continue his work for clients and friends in the broader region, which, through his various projects, he was able to slowly accumulate a whole archive of artisan-crafted handmade featured carpets he has created through his journey which can now be sold under a sub-moniker, Omar Khan Home

Omar Khan Home, has since debuted this past year at the first Maison et Objet Asia Singapore in March 2014, and has already been exhibited at Lane Crawford’s Chengdu Flagship… with word on the street that it may also be on offer here at Lane Crawford in Hong Kong as well. (Will keep you updated on this.)  

Omar Khan, a Singaporean with Dutch, Chinese, Egyptian, Pakistani, and German roots, was educated in the states since High School to college, uses his amalgamated past experiences to create designs which re-orient the “orient”, but in a graphic format that is contemporary and romantic… ie. “a panoply of objects, textures, and sensations”, according to him. The line as of now consists of 15 designs, with each comprising of about 3 different variations and made of wool, viscose, and silk… all hand tufted in Malaysia with Omar’s personal guidance on each piece that goes from factory to client. His signature rugs are quintessentially memorable and are each defined by “strong graphic motifs and fantastical elements” which Omar says are derived from his “dreams”. We have a quick chat with Omar about the new Omar Khan Home line and his amazing 2014 debut so far.

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theWanderlister+: Congratulations Omar on the launch of the the Omar Khan Home, tell me about the new line and how it fits conceptually with your design company, The Omar Khan Collective?

Omar Khan: The Omar Khan Collective and the home brand, Omar Khan Home, is really a company and product that wants to tell your story, be it thru lifestyle, retail, residential or commercial projects. We shy away from trends and we believe a personal investment into your life means more. I suppose thats why I decided to launch with a collection of statement rugs.

From an interior perspective, I always felt that having a rug in your space is an anchoring element. From a wellness perspective, we see the rug as more than just a rug, it’s a statement. You chose that piece because on some level it resonated with you. 

theW+: The last time you were on Wanderlister.com, we discussed your VM work for Papillon, a lifestyle boutique destination in Kuala Lumpur. That was about 4 years ago. Do you still do similar kinds of work today? And how does your work for The Omar Khan Collective feed into your home styling brand and vice versa?

OK: We are first and foremost an interior focused company. We have a consulting arm that deals with issues outside the realm of interiors but still very much intrinsic to the end presentation, We have done big atrium installations for two malls in Kuala Lumpur and some VM and  branding consultation around the region.

Within the consultancy we have what we call “Crafted and Curated” and this is an initiative specific to hotels who want to up the ante with their gift stores. Omar Khan Home will be expanding into scented candles and luxury towels which we will use to anchor the merchandise selection and then add on with a special curation from local artisans. Selfishly i miss a really good hotel gift store so to be able to bring that back is very interesting to me.

theW+: The feedback of your work has been quite positive. Some of your rugs have been showcased throughout China via Lane Crawford and other parts of Asia as well. Why do you think that the response has been so great? Did you expect it all?

OK: For me the rugs are a labor of love, which comes from a pure creative side that I feel resonates with people. I am planning a series of trunk shows throughout the region and it will be interesting to see the perspective on the collection from country to country. I always believe in the transformative effects a rug can have on a person and in their home, so for me that positive response specific to wellness is quite rewarding.

theW+: Who do you look to as your design heroes?

OK: I suppose they come from all different design fields. Hayze Menon, the man behind the music from my video, Brian Christie, who concepted and directed it, Meredith McLean, a creative powerhouse whose ability to take your vision and go the extra mile to turn it into reality. I’ve been privileged  enough to work with them and continue working with them on collaborative projects moving forward. 

Statement Rugs by Omar Khan Home from Omar Khan on Vimeo.

In regards to the usual suspects, I’ve always had Ray and Charles Eames, up there on the same pedestal as well as Erwin Olaff, Tim Walker & Dries van Noten.

theW+: What else will we see from Omar Khan Home, I know you will be collaborating with Lane Crawford in Hong Kong, among other projects…

OK: Moving forward, as a company our biggest ethos is that everything presented by The Omar Khan Collective should resonate with you. I hope to expand into Bed & Bath products with a range of oversized luxury towels, chinaware, fabric, and wallpaper collaborations. Such is the case for our brand new and very limited range of scented candles from France. There are 4 notes - our hero scent “Fleure Blanche”, “Palace”, “Lounge”, and my personal favourite “Bad Boy”. I have such great dreams for them in my head : )

DESIGN Omar Khan Collective and Omar Khan Home

JJ.

#JJStyle: Blast Off Cosmonaut, Jonathan Liang’s AW14 Collection

One of Asia’s hottest designers, Jonathan Liang, is busy at work in his Paris studio making the most out of the best opportunities, not only as a young 26 year old making global waves in fashion via his own namesake line, but also as the new Creative Director of Malaysia’s “IT” label, Dude & the Dutchess.

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On offer in stores now is Jonathan Liang’s Fall-Winter 2014 collection inspired by the Cosmonaut. Before fashion, Liang was an illustrator. The narrative as concept is obviously on full display here stating that the collection is “an adventure starting from the Big Bang through the cosmos - a life of space suits worthy of Jane Fonda’s Barbarella.” Signature Liang is at play with each item’s form dependent on function and utility, yet defined by refined feminine silhouettes and innovative use of various fabrics and textures. 

This collection is complimented by a collection of exclusive footwear designed in collaboration with Nelissa Hilman.

WEAR Jonathan Liang

JJ.

 

#theWanderlist: BEP Vietnamese Kitchen Stands Out By Fusing Street Style Viet Meals With Low-Key “Normcore” Branded Design, And It Works

For some new dining destinations in Hong Kong, maybe the best way to stand out is to keep things minimalist, easy, and not look like theres so much effort in trying to stand out. I mean new “must-go” restaurants in this city open almost every week, and this current normcore attitude, you know the “desire to NOT stand out” and the “opposite of hardcore”… is maybe what works if one really needs to make a mark these days amongst the glut of dining choices on offer.

That said, being normcore, is not as easy at it looks. One has to be methodical about materiality, textures, lighting, form, layout, and overall aesthetic planning. There’s a difference between a space or restaurant that’s minimally Designed vs. one that is just… well… empty.

BEP Vietnamese Kitchen opened just recently, and the group who runs it knows exactly what they’re doing since they’ve spent all these years perfecting the casual Vietnamese offer through their other brand, Nha Trang. BEP is located in a little alleyway just behind PURE Gym Soho off Staunton Street with a panoramic glazed window framed in a seemingly untreated silver aluminum cladding. The feeling is that of a diner you’ve seen before, and the immediate familiarity and openness in the facade design (also a row of tall chairs for outdoor seating), makes anyone feel welcome in this joint.

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The interior and exterior work is designed by Candace Campos of ID, originally from Los Angeles, now based in Hong Kong. And Before BEP, Campos has worked on other F&B projects in the city such as Mana, Tate Dining Room, and Heirloom and a few other residential projects under her belt. Campos kept things minimal at BEP with light timber tables, and sexy chairs that look like folded cardboard. Columns are clad in square stark white ceramic tiles with a dark grouting which creates a “subway” style grid, underpinning all the light timber and raw concrete finishes. It feels like a cool easy anteen in Brooklyn or Los Angeles. 

Together with Campos, the branding work for BEP was executed by Danielle Huthart through her firm, Whitespace, with denim uniforms designed by Paola Sinisterra of Tangram (apparently). This is a style trio that’s hard to beat.

Oh and the food… so my friend, Louise, took me here one Saturday, and everything they’ve got are easy to eat shareable snacky dishes like Squid Cakes, Pomelo Salad, Stir Fried Clams, Beef Salad, Sesame Rice Crackers, Garlic Fried Chicken Wings, various options of Bun Chay (dry noodle with fried goods on top), and you know the basic Pho offerings. For those who are into that stuff… there’s plenty of Sriracha for you to plop into your meals. Price wise its a great deal with meals coming out to about 100hkd a person (and it’s Central…AND it’s a place you actually WANT to be seen in!) It could be my new local.

My favorite dish? The Banh Xeo, a thin flour crepe stuffed with shrimps, pork, lettuce, and herbs. I loved it with fish sauce. So delicious. Give it a go. It’s very economical, nothing to lose, lots to gain.

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Some Photos via BEP Facebook. Some Photos by Me.

EAT BEP Vietnamese Kitchen . Lower Ground Floor, 9-11 Staunton Street, SOHO, Central, Hong Kong . T: +852 25227533 / DESIGN Candace Campos of ID / BRANDING Whitespace Hong Kong 

JJ.

 

#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.

#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.

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