HONG KONG – With its combined haberdashery, barbershop and cocktail bar, Attire House is Hong Kong’s newest dapper destination.
Situated on the 29th floor of an office building with sweeping views of the city, the space is decked out with the best of British bespoke from Anderson & Sheppard, Turnbull & Asser, Neapolitan masters Finamore and Salvatore Piccolo, and Japanese shoemaker Guild of Crafts – to name just a few. The adjoining barbershop Herr, a hip Seoul transplant, takes care of grooming needs, while upstairs is Bar De Luxe, Attire House’s collaboration with the Tokyo cocktail joint Bar High Five.
The concept was launched by Brandon Chau, an ex-barrister who hails from a high-society family in Hong Kong, and Roger Chan, who helped debut E. Marinella on the Hong Kong scene a few years ago. They’ve now folded the tie maker’s freestanding shop in the city into the Attire House assortment, where it is available exclusively. The emporium also has its own private-label line, which sells a two-piece suit for about 8,000 to 9,000 Hong Kong dollars, or $1,000 to $1,160 at current exchange.
Attire House’s arrival in December has drawn many comparisons to The Armoury, which has been setting the bar in the city for stylish men’s clothing since 2010. As it happens, The Armoury is also moving toward offering more of a lifestyle component. Although its next – and fourth – store will not have a salon, by April it will be opening up in the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, next to the hotel’s famed barber shop.
Chau called The Armoury “pioneers” and has been among its customers since the beginning. But in his view, Attire House takes on a more British aesthetic, reflecting his own schooldays in the U.K. “Their style is pretty much Italian in all variations,” he said. “For me, that’s not the full picture of classic men’s wear.”
Although Hong Kong retail sales have registered a nearly two-year decline, with the luxury segment hit hardest, Chau said the niche curation and lifestyle proposition should help it withstand the challenging market. He also pointed to the benefits of being located in an office building in Central as opposed to a shopping mall. It may not get passerby traffic, but pays considerably less rent than if located in the Landmark across the street.
Attire House is not the only novelty in men’s wear in Hong Kong. Less than a 10-minute walk away from Attire House is bespoke tailoring workshop Magnus & Novus. Launched by Ethan Rye last July, it offers bespoke pieces for the full spectrum of a man’s wardrobe, from formal suiting to business attire and leisure pieces.
The label distinguishes itself with what Rye terms “scalable fine craft.” Everything is done in-house by Magnus & Novus’ workshop of 12 tailors based in Shenzhen, China.
Rye observed that Asian tailors who don’t outsource their production are an increasing rarity these days, and those that do often work as a husband-and-wife duo, substantially limiting their output. While it is true that many vaunted European tailors are holding more trunk shows in Asia, multiple fittings could mean a wait of several months to up to half a year for a customer. Magnus & Novus offers a two-week turnaround while working with premium European fabrics from companies such as Holland & Sherry and Scabal.
“A Savile Row tailor 200 years ago they made – say – 30 suits a month,” Rye said. “They still make 30 suits a month [because] their labor force is still based in the basement of their own shop. There’s 20 people there. It doesn’t change. But the prices change, you see. We don’t like the fact that pricing is inflated, based on a limited and non-innovative labor force. We’re looking to find ways to innovate and scale.”
Rye said that his business model is something that is only possible in Asia, due to dying interest in entering the trade in the west. “This could not happen in Paris. I asked my customer: ‘Would you ever send your child to learn to be a shoemaker or a cobbler in Paris?’ Beautiful French shoes sell for significant amounts of money, but would the middle class or upper class send their children to produce products that they would then buy? No one wants to get into fine craft in the U.K. or France,” he said.
Rather, Rye believes the India and China will be key countries for the artisanal trade looking ahead.
Entry-level prices for business suiting from Magnus & Novus start at 11,000 Hong Kong dollars, or $1,400, although most customers spend between 15,000 to 20,000 Hong Kong dollars, or $1,900 to $2,600. Magnus & Novus is also part of the recently launched made-to-measure program at Lane Crawford.
“We want to become the finest tailoring workshop in China, and perhaps the world,” Rye said.