The designers selected for the event were: Cynthia Mak and Xiao Xiao of Cynthia + Xiao; Harrison Wong, and Polly Ho’s Loom Loop.
Many of the looks in the collections shown were quite wearable, particularly for the U.S. market. Often, when Asian designers would show on their own or through a government-sponsored event, there was something missing that made one think the aesthetic wouldn’t resonate with American consumers.
That wasn’t the case for Fashion Hong Kong, perhaps because all three designers have had some form of Western training.
Mak and Xiao met in London, and both are graduates of London art school Central Saint Martins. Mak, a graphic design specialist, and Xiao, who specializes in knitwear, formed their line in 2014. Mak said, “I poured all my money, my savings into this business.” The women’s wear line is sold mostly in China. Drawing inspiration from Chinese zodiac symbols — the rabbit and the tiger — many of the looks showcased Mak’s bold graphics, while Xiao’s knitwear influence was in the detailing, such as wool-fringed edging on the hem of a red wool skirt.
Wong’s namesake brand targets the urban man. The line is edgy and contemporary, but in a restrained manner. He’s a winner of the Hong Kong Young Designer’s Contest and the Grand Prix Contest in Japan. Wong holds a master’s degree from the London College of Fashion, and has designed women’s and men’s collections. He showed in the 2016 Fashion Hong Kong show at New York Fashion Week, as well as at shows in Milan, Shanghai, Taipei, Sydney and Hong Kong. Inspiration for the current line was from the austere cut of monastic robes, which gave many of his long black and charcoal coats a starkness that was also understated and elegant. One recurring option shown was a long, lightweight long-sleeved down coat that could be worn on its own, but almost doubled as a liner worn under long wool coats, short wool jackets and long Neoprene coats. According to Wong, his line is sold in Hong Kong, as well as in Europe, primarily in Germany.
After graduating from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Ho studied at the University of Central England, and then worked for Misa Harada Millinery in London. Ho worked as a fashion consultant for various Chinese brands before beginning work on her first collection in 2015, which showed at the spring 2016 Fashion Hong Kong show during Tokyo Fashion Week. Most of the looks in her capsule showed prints inspired by a Chinese folk tale. And while that was done to highlight the brand’s eco-friendly technique of using natural dye and sun exposure to develop patterns on delicate Canton silk, the head-to-toe looks sometimes were too distracting, although they were wearable options worn as sportswear separates.
Both Wong and Ho work out of a creative hub called PMQ, a landmark known as Police Married Quarters. The former dormitory was also the original site for the Queen’s College Central School. It was transformed into a space for designers, although many tourists also go there to shop. Wong’s space is used as his first men’s retail shop and studio, while Ho’s space has been configured as a small shop. She is also part of the Design Incubator Program in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council sponsored the show. The Council receives some funding from the Hong Kong government, although most of its funding is from hosting trade fairs and conferences in Hong Kong.
Wednesday’s show represents the Council’s second season at New York Fashion Week for the fall shows. Ralph Chow, the Council’s regional director of the Americas, said, “The purpose is to promote three Hong Kong designers so they gain more visibility and more exposure in the U.S. market. Apart from promoting the fashion designers at the catwalk show, we’ve also organized meetings at a showroom — at the Launch Collective at 495 Broadway in Manhattan — where we invite buyers [from department stores to select shops] to meet with the designers.”
The showroom at Launch Collective also is hosting Fashion Accessories Showcase, where 15 Hong Kong designers of accessories brands meet with local buyers. Brands include footwear line Franco Y.; sunglass line Luisa Leitao; leathers goods firm TAT, or Treat Anything Tactile, and jewelry and accessories line Cecilia Ma. Also showing is Wingki Kwok Illustration, a collection of watercolor artworks, fashion and portraits – the company has worked on marketing collaborations with fashion and beauty brands, such as SKII, Lancôme, Kate Spade New York and Club Monaco.