John Hardy has opened a 391-square-foot store, the size of a jewel box, at Gateway Arcade, the vast Harbour City shopping area on Hong Kong’s Kowloon, where 700 retailers, 50 restaurants, car shows, music performances and one of the city’s biggest movie theaters keep customers engaged.
“The Gateway is one of the most popular destinations,” said John Hardy chief executive officer Robert Hanson. “It attracts locals, professionals, expats and visitors from mainland China. They’re drawn to the energy and the traffic of the mall. This is our only location on the Kowloon side.”
The Gateway store follows the introduction of John Hardy units in Houston and New York’s SoHo. The brand has continued to modernize and elevate its product range while expanding company-owned retail. While John Hardy is headquartered in Manhattan, the jewelry is designed and produced at the brand’s Balinese workshop and studio.
“The Southeast Asia area has always been vital to the brand,” Hanson said. “We opened Gateway Harbor City to build more awareness with mainland Chinese.”
A unique front drawer system at Gateway, similar to the SoHo boutique, which bowed in November, allows sales associates to be “shoulder-to-shoulder” and alongside clients rather than behind a counter. The more informal selling model allows clients to explore products beyond what’s on display and encourages more interaction between sales associates and clients.
John Hardy is designed at the company’s Ubud workshop 20 minutes outside Bali’s creative hub. Artisans use an eight-step jewelry-making process that includes sketching the piece and painting it with watercolors, using wax to create a mold and hand-hammering metals. Some products are created in Bangkok using the same method.
The jewelry’s story is told through boards displaying the tools, raw stones, paint brushes, pigments and photos of the artisan’s hands applying the final touches to a piece. The tableaux are found throughout the store in thick glass display cases set on pedestals with “John Hardy est. 1975” carved into the rustic wood.
“The store demonstrates the workmanship, spirit and warmth of John Hardy,” Hanson said. “We pivoted to be relevant to Hong Kong and Chinese customers. There’s a distortion for the Chinese consumer with extra small sizes, more silver and gold, figurative work, and semiprecious gem stones that appeal to those shoppers. It’s very much about classic chains and bamboo.”
John Hardy’s Gateway store is a fully immersive experience. “We presented the store like a very hospitable gallery, highlighting the handmade and unique aspect of the brand heritage,” Hanson said. “It’s a creative sanctuary with sustainable artwork, the scent of tuberose, sound of ambient music and great lighting rituals.”
The combined elements “attract a more modern jewelry consumer,” Hanson said. “It’s someone independent, artistically minded and younger.”
The Gateway store has been an education. “It’s such an interesting and diverse customer base,” Hanson said. “We’re beginning to explore what their preferences are for product. There are a lot of fairly traditional gold brands in Hong Kong and China. Our made by hand position is quite compelling.”
John Hardy plans to open 10 to 15 stores in the U.S. in the next three to five years. “They’ll be only A to A+ mall and street locations,” Hanson said. “We have a strong focus on creating an exceptional omnichannel experience. We want customers to access us through multiple touch points. We launched live shopping powered by Hero with message and video”
E-commerce is available in more than 300 countries through third-party logistic providers. The brand operates company-owned stores in Hong Kong, Indonesia and Bali, where there’s three units, including one Duty Free location and another in a five-star hotel.
“We’re in discussions with mainland China and the U.K. about opening joint venture or licensed stores,” Hanson said. “We’re in Russia already. We’re excited about building out John Hardy’s distribution footprint.”