On 10 September fashion industry leaders and influencers admired collections by the best and brightest emerging designers in Hong Kong at the Young Fashion Designers’ Contest. The showcase is arguably the most exciting annual fashion event in the city because it gives audiences the chance to witness the inspirations and ideas of a fresh group of young designers who have a good chance of becoming the next big thing.
‘Hong Kong fashion is in a phase of transition,’ says Fed Tan managing director and co-founder of fashion marketing and communications agency social/capital. ‘Designers now know the whole world is their market, not just Hong Kong. They are not limited any more.’ His fellow judge, designer Hiromichi Ochiai of progressive street label Facetasm, concurs. ‘As an Asian designer myself, I want to tell Hong Kong designers that fashion is borderless. Just because you’re an Asian designer doesn’t mean you are hindered and only have to look to the West for opportunities. Just keep to your own creativity and originality: that’s the most important thing.’ Read Arthur Tam’s column on how Chinese Fashion Design is reclaiming its heritage.
The 17 contestants certainly lived up to the judges’ expectations, with a strong showing of AW streetwear featuring an emphasis on unique fabrications, quilting, loose-hanging straps, challenging lengths and oversized silhouettes. The competition also featured a record number of menswear designers, reflecting the industry trend toward exploring new interpretations of masculinity.
‘My fellow judges and I were pleasantly surprised,’ says Tan. ‘There was a lot of thought put into the design and fabrication of each look. The designers know quality and possess a high level of technique.’ Ochiai agrees: ‘Based on tonight’s showing, anyone from around the world could appreciate the level of design by the contestants.’
With such high-calibre talent the final decision was a difficult one, but in the end, the judges managed to select a worthy group of winners.
Kenneth Cheung Ka-ho: No Country for Old Man
Cheung presented a clear, cohesive, militaristic vision and masterfully created a detailed collection that nods to Japanese street fashion and designer Junya Watanabe. There was an excitement and thrill that would make the Coen brothers proud. Highlights include oversized coats, bombers and wide-fitting trousers in muted, workwear colours, juxtaposed with fluorescent orange threads. It’s easy to see the likes of Nick Wooster wearing Cheung’s clothes.
This isn’t the first time Cheung has won an award. As part of his graduate collection at Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), he took home the Most Creative and Best Menswear awards with a striking Comme de Garçons-esque collection that caught the eye of fashion influencer and blogger Susie Bubble.
Lee Tak-shing: Addendum
Oliver Twist is all grown up and apparently he’s going to Lee Tak-shing for his wardrobe. Patchwork jeans, slouchy sweaters and jackets fit for the Industrial Revolution are among the highlights of this collection. We wonder if Lee is slyly commenting on the treatment of Hong Kong’s labour force.
Second Runner-up and Best Footwear & Accessories Design Winner
Gim Wong Lai-yu: Backpacker
Wong evokes a bit of Craig Green in her womenswear collection, with highlights including thick wools and floating straps. It comes with a utilitarian, sporty appeal that makes the models look like they’re getting ready for a skydiving session. For the lady that likes to test life to its extremes.
Lam Kin-yan: Into the Flames
The pastel collection combined tribal shamanistic elements with intricately interwoven and runaway fringe details that contrast structure with whimsy. The knit textures made the looks look comfortable and wearable.
Gavin Ng Ka-hang: Fox Spirit
This collection represented an adolescent young boy’s dream of growing up to be a ninja street warrior. There are intricate woven details combined with oversized silhouettes, which create a striking catwalk number. We would love to get one of the hoodies.
Arto Wong Hiu-to: Word You See
China, China, China! Wong has created a cascading Chinese poetic print that’s part Ming vase, part futuristic cool. Is this what people of a modern, technological imperialistic China would dress like?