Born this year in Hong Kong’s Kowloon district, luxury knitwear brand YanYan is the brainchild of Phyllis Chan, former director of knitwear at Rag & Bone in New York, and her friend Suzzie Chung, a Hong Kong-based designer. Meaning “everyone” in Cantonese, YanYan’s designs champion individuality and are inspired by New York but with a nod to the founders’ Hong Kong heritage, with the colour-block knit-rib kung fu jacket being a sell-out for the brand. Many of the pieces come as co-ords – two-tone striped tweed, and ivory with embroidered rosebuds for the current collection – but are sold individually, made from reclaimed wools sourced from specialty mills around the world, and knitted in China.
Founded in 2012 by Hong Kong-born and Studio Berçot-educated Anais Mak, Jourden gained international accolade last year when it made its runway debut at Paris Fashion Week. Stocked at Lane Crawford and Joyce in Hong Kong, Jourden’s designs feature modern tailoring that play with proportion and perspective – think graphic-print suits, oversized bell sleeves, layered hems and colourblock gingham.
On-Ying Lai and Jason Mui create clothes that draw on Chinese culture in a way that doesn’t merely treat it as a trend. Their inspirations for Yat Pit nod to Bruce Lee, Hong Kong pop culture and the current youth scene, remixing traditional Chinese codes with updated cut and material — knit rib qipao dresses and cropped silk chrysanthemum jackets — or taking mundane motifs and making them “fashion” — net slippers, jade-bead bucket hats, and the tourist-style prints of Victoria Harbour.
Yat Pit, which means “one stroke” in Cantonese and references a Chinese idiom, is based in Hong Kong’s Sham Shui Po, Kowloon’s garment and electric district that’s authentically unglamorous but rich in local culture. For the untrained eye, Yat Pit’s retail spaces often blend in with the local street markets, complete with no-frills packaging and neon yellow price tags, extending the label’s tongue-in-cheek edge. Each Yat Pit design features a clever reference to local kitsch that satisfies certain nostalgic itches, such as the doorstop-inspired heel on the net slippers, the “I Know You’re Watching” anti-theft graphic tees, and the (intentionally) ill-fitting grey suits inspired by your Asian dad.
Ryan Lo designs for the romantic. Not just with princessy gowns, but with full-on-knight-in-shining-armour theatricality. Born and raised in Hong Kong, trained at the London College of Fashion, and part of the Fashion East family, Lo encapsulates the essence of “港女” (Hong Kong Girl) aesthetics with references to Hello Kitty and Japanese Manga, as well as classic female figures of the Western canon such as Anna Karenina and Marie Antoinette. For his Autumn/Winter 2019 show at London Fashion Week, Lo completed his Lolita-inspired dreamscape with a baby pram made in collaboration with Silver Cross — a favourite of the British Royal family — and exaggerated headpieces that riffed on the Queen’s Guards’ Bearskin hats and super kawaii earmuffs. His collections function as chapters in a novel, indulging in quintessentially girly motifs such as brocade frill gowns, satin-ribbon corsets, pussy bows and lace, which for the latest season were rendered in morose all-black, virginal white, and saccharine powder pinks. His pieces have been adored by the likes of Kiko Mizuhara, Susie Lam and Maisie Williams (aka Arya Stark).
Hailing from Hong Kong, based in London, and a graduate of London Fashion College, Robert Wun is the rising designer that focuses on silhouette and craftsmanship over loud branding and logo mania. At the heart of his designs is a serene sense of female empowerment that translates to elegant, sculptural forms that are at once delicate and strong. In recent years, his work has caught the eye of celebrities Solange, Lady Gaga, Cardi B and Erykah Badu, and has been nominated for the Woolmark Prize and commissioned by the Royal Ballet. For his Spring/Summer 2019 and Autumn/Winter 2019 collections, entitled “Hua Mulan” and “Mulan Vol.2” respectively, Wun was able to continue his ode to female warriors while tapping into his heritage with a poetic spin on the name “花木蘭” (Hua Mu Lan), which also translates to “flower, wood, orchid.” The clothes thus reflected a pure colour palette that gave emphasis to sleek curves and clean lines illustrating the shape of the orchid flower.