Letter from…Hong Kong

In a busy city such as Hong Kong, having a ‘wardrobe ecosystem’ is essential, reports Daniel Kong

My morning routine begins with the same question: “What do I wear today?” And though the question may seem trivial, picking an outfit is my essential meditation and preparation for the day ahead. In a city as fast-paced as Hong Kong, a well-thought-out outfit is a necessity. It helps me to glide through a day of challenges, wildly varying temperatures and social occasions.

Through many years, my social circle and I have obsessed over this seemingly mundane task. Coming from a retail heaven such as Hong Kong, we have seen brands come and go. We find no interest in the hype surrounding a new brand or the latest trend du jour. Rather, in reaction to this saturation, we have realised that the best solution centres on refining our wardrobe into a focused capsule collection.

My fellow fashion blogger Samantha Wong of Sam Is Home (samishome.com) took this dilemma head-on. She undertook the 15/30 challenge, where she created outfits for 30 days with only 15 items of clothing. Her journey struck a chord with many in the city for several reasons. She discovered that paring down clothes provided a streamlined focus.

Samantha Wong
Fashion blogger Samantha Wong caused a buzz after she created 30 outfits from 15 items of clothing

Although people in the city are freed by the rich diversity of brands on offer, many are also paralysed and burdened by this very freedom. Wong’s philosophy also allows one space to live within the small confines of Hong Kong’s notorious micro-sized apartments.

Brands known for reliable basics have stood out. These include Japanese brands such as Muji and Uniqlo, local staples such as Squarestreet and Grana, as well as Swedish labels such as Cheap Monday and COS. These are the brands that should make up a portion of any capsule collection. My personalised uniform also consists of a Comme Ça Ism black trench coat, a blazer from Mauro Grifoni, a denim jacket from Uniqlo and a Breton-striped top from Åland.

Once this uniform standard is formed, the question then becomes how to transform basics into a wardrobe ecosystem of individuality and character. This has meant an odd variety of experiences for me.

By establishing a system that allows for both consistency and eclecticism, dressing up in the morning is no longer a chore

There was an afternoon spent scouring ribbon stores in the old district of Sham Shui Po to make a bracelet. Another time I stumbled upon a voluminous jacket at a store that sold mainland China factory rejects. These unassuming experiences in the odd parts of Hong Kong life have been pivotal in ultimately defining my individual style.

By establishing a system that allows for both consistency and eclecticism, dressing up in the morning is no longer a chore on the days when all I want to is curl up in bed. And for those happier days, this seemingly everyday task is infused with a little bit more joy.

Hong Kong is a city where people are often rushing to their office, another business meeting or their next appointment. The intensity can be overwhelming, but a good wardrobe can help you to tackle the day.