Hong Kong, one of the world’s most coveted shopping destinations, is known for being jam-packed with malls and retail space. The city is even comparable to other fashion hubs such as London, New York and Paris. But lately, a new trend has emerged in the city—curated retail spaces, or more simply, stores that feature multiple brands.
One successful select shop is Kapok, a retailer founded in 2006 by Arnault Castel. The brand already has five stores in Hong Kong with a sixth set to open, as well as one location in Taiwan, and two in Singapore.
“A select shop is a group of people who have a certain aesthetic and philosophy, and they choose the products to fit that, adding their personal touch. They have categories like clothes and accessories, and even food,” Castel told South China Morning Post.
Castel also explained how he created Kapok in order to bring exclusivity and individuality back to luxury goods.
“I opened Kapok because I was bored with the malls, the bigger brands. I’m not the only one, as a lot of people here think like that. If you look at the luxury industry, you see the scale of it; it’s not real luxury, it’s mass market with an expensive price tag. There’s nothing exclusive. Real luxury is a luxury of information, of discovery, of only a few people knowing the secret of a particular brand. People today are a little smarter about fashion, about design. They want to define themselves outside the normal, orthodox ways,” he said.
Another new curated shop that has landed in Hong Kong is Konzepp. The brand started in Sheung Wan, but has now opened additional stores in Jakarta, Singapore, and a pop-up store at the Landmark Atrium in Hong Kong.
Geoff Tsui, Konzepp co-founder and industrial designer, says that his ultimate hope for the brand is that it encourages creativity and originality. ”We don’t bracket ourselves. People call us a shop, but I see us as a platform, a hub. Profit isn’t our primary motive.”
Tsui says that Konzepp is more than retail, but a space for art, photography, illustrations and more. He sees their stores as a place to debut local and international artistry and hopes that visitors will enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, something he thinks traditional retailers lack.
For Tsui, Konzepp is more than a clothing or luxury brand, it is all about personalization and self expression. He is confident that his brand, and others like it, will continue to capture consumer interest. “It’s a trend that will definitely continue as more and more people get access to information. I think the days of ‘I want to dress like a celebrity’ are gone. Today it’s about ‘This is my style, my story.’”
Moving forward, the longevity of such stores will rest solely on the affordability of space. Both Kapok and Konzepp locations have seen major increases in rent, making it hard not only to open new stores, but maintain existing ones.
“The key challenge in Hong Kong is as always the rent. We have the highest rents in the world, easily. It feels like we are all working for landlords here,” says Tsui.
Despite the challenge of finding suitable and reasonably priced locations, Hong Kong’s curated retail scene has grown with creative shops like PMQ and multi-brand stores like Square Street, the Monocle Shop, Daydream Nation, and Russell Street.
image credit: kapok