The Zeitgeist Of Hong Kong's Emerging Fashion Designers

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20 September 2017

The Zeitgeist of Hong Kong's Emerging Fashion Designers

The Hong Kong Young Fashion Designers’ Contest (YDC) is arguably the most important annual fashion event in the city. No other show offers as much insight into the cultural zeitgeist of today’s young designers; putting their concerns, thoughts, and inspirations on full display to a packed audience. And this year, the collections are unmistakably related to the social issues and growing unrest the city has been facing in the past year, which is exemplified by the top three winners.

Second-runner up  Wilson Choi presented a focused, irreverent, athletic, men’s streetwear collection titled "The Stolen Soul." Here, Choi explores the dissatisfaction today's youth have with an authoritative education system. Models are dressed in tough, weather-resistant, colour-blocked jackets, coats and pants accented with red brush strokes symbolising defiance. Carefully placed zip details, pockets and athletic fastenings add an outdoorsy appeal that has resulted in a rebellious schoolboy look that can withstand, not only the unrelenting natural and urban landscape of Hong Kong, but also the status quo. Of all the collections of the evening, Choi presented the most commercial and wearable looks.

First-runner up Sonic Lam presented his dystopian menswear collection "Barren Land", a common source of inspiration for creatives in the city, who are uncertain about Hong Kong’s future with the encroachment of Mainland China’s influence. As the title suggests, Lam pays homage to Hong Kong’s colourful transformation from fishing village to an international hub and draws inspiration from Wong Kar-wai films and cyberpunk anime. The result is a Japanese street chic collection that oscillates between manic clown to troubled artist. The colourful stripes painted on distressed, silk jackets paired with wide pants and accessorised with exaggeratedly huge bags is a playful use of proportions. The washed out colors and chain-like adornments adds a rebellious punk attitude to the outfits.

A more hopeful collection came from returning contestant Arto Wong. In her second attempt competing at the YDC – after losing out on any award last year – Wong returned and rose to the occasion, taking home not only the New Talent Award, but also the Champion title. Her collection "Zero to Unlimited" captured a sense of grandeur drama and modernity with big, explosive pieces inspired by the endless potential of molecular transformation. Even in the face of adversity, beauty emerges. Her first look was an over-sized sweater engulfed by an electric blue flower, with a radiating orange nucleus paired with a ruffled skirt.

The subsequent looks then played on variations of this motif in the form of a voluminous bustier, flowing coat and a dress with a multi-layered collar. The big surprise with this collection is how Wong was able to weave together such structural, ornate pieces using knitwear. Wong won on all accounts. Her collection was the most striking, technically ambitious and married both creativity and commercial appeal.

The common lament throughout about Hong Kong’s fashion industry is how it’s on a decline – eclipsed by other major city’s across Asia. But year, after year, the YDC  proves that the city is not lacking of young talent. The bigger issue is how to nurture this talent for the world stage. 

The YDC2017 Fashion Show Highlight

Further Reading