Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Unearthing Kapok

Kapok...another retail gem of Hong Kong.

Wei!? Lei ho ma? My overnight flight from Hong Kong landed this morning and I'm currently in the midst of a sleep deprived zombie like state but before I retire to catch up on some much needed sleep I just had to wax lyrical about Kapok. Regular readers will recall that I found a hidden gem of a store during my last HK visit in Moustache but I doubted whether I could find anything half as interesting during my second visit. I could not have been more wrong. Kapok is another dazzlingly bright gem in a city that is just full of surprises. I was introduced to the store's enigmatic and passionate owner, Arnault as I gulped down sake and tasty sashimi at Zuma and spent much of the evening talking menswear. With Kapok, Arnault's objective is to showcase emerging brands that combine creativity and craftsmanship. The store opened its doors in early 2006 and offered an antidote to the boredom of the countless, indistinguishable shopping malls that have hegemonic status in this bustling, all consuming city. In August 2008, the store moved to San Francis Yard, in Wanchai’s Star Street area...a quiet and friendly location that was fortunately just a jet lagged stroll from our hotel! It was fate.


Kapok focuses on showing products by younger labels, those whose work has not previously been available in Hong Kong. The stock presents a well curated selection of European and Asian brands and includes a mouth watering array of my favourite labels. These include highlight picks from Our Legacy, Patrik Ervell, Common Projects, Saint James and Head Porter all of which me want to turn to a life of crime in order to allow me to fill my suitcase with sartorial treats. While balancing my consumer needs and my morals the store introduced me to a number of emerging brands including Commune de Paris 1871, Sixpack, 78%, Carga and established but unfamiliar names including Postalco and Mismo to name but a few. I am so pleased to have discovered this store. It is great to find a store which has such an obvious desire to showcase products that see a happy marriage between craft and design. I will end the introduction there and instead offer a few snapshots of the wonders inside alongside my obvious but unrepentant gushing blurb on the brands and products found inside...

Introducing Sixpack

French label Sixpack's philosophy is simple, to be sincere in their work, have fun and always surprise and grab the attention of their audience. Founder, Lionel Vivier defines the label as a fashion brand with a cultural dimension. “To me Sixpack’s aesthetic is a mix of pop cultures and experimentations, with codes, hidden meanings and implicit cultural references." I just love the character of the brand and could not walk away without picking up a tshirt for myself.

Our Legacy takes pride of place in the store window.

I only really discovered Our Legacy last Summer but I'm scratching my head as to why it took me so much time to blog about this Scandinavian gem. Swedish designers and co-founders Cristopher Nying and Jockum Hallin redefine the classic male wardrobe in a light and comfortable manner. They offer a well dressed contemporary look made to appear thrown together in a perfectly natural and confident way. The use of Italian, British and Portuguese fabrics adds a heritage feeling, like a classic garment from your grandfathers wardrobe, slightly remodeled to fit around a new life and time." The SS10 collection is all about the epic journey of a well made garment. Like a person, a garment has a personal of its own. It can be intellectual, romantic, sensitive, experienced and much more. Hidden Harvest's main philosophy is natural grown fabrics and personal identity. I'd certainly like to get to know a few a garments a bit more intimately...


Aside from affording the opportunity to salivate over the designs of Our Legacy, Kapok introduced me to Postalco. Originating in Brooklyn and now based in Japan, Postalco creates items inspired by the international transport of mail and the wonders of paper. focus on the theme of the nature of design, what will be charming with repeated use, what is close and attached to a person, and what conveys the idea of the creator - and cast their ideas into shape. The husband and wife team wanted a way to carry papers and documents that would function and age well. Some experimentation resulted in a series of document carrying envelopes made from pressed cotton and leather with an adjustable button closure. I fell in love. A more in depth post will follow this one but I just had to mention my latest with you briefly here...

So much temptation on just one table...more on Postalco in a later post.

Now on to a couple of accessories brands that I can elaborate on, Mismo and Carga. Firmly based in the Danish design tradition and an appreciation for the values of classic craftsmanship, Mismo unites natural materials with simple but refined details to create products of true style. Leather constitutes the backbone of Mismo design, and only the best materials of premium quality are used. In Mismo bags, functionality and detail are harmonised with versatility and durability to strike exactly the right balance. Simply the signature of contemporary chic that is rooted in the virtues of classic design.

Mismo accessories in front a Commune de Paris artwork.

Carga is a line of bags aimed at men who want something that is highly practical and well designed. The range combines sleekness with strength and consists of three different sizes – a Notebook Tote, a Messenger Bag and a Weekend Bag. Carga came about almost by accident. Some of you would have heard the story before but I like it so much that I just have to share it with you again...Having created a bag for himself out of industrial wool felt left over from another project, Mauro took it with him to his architectural office where a client loved it so much that he asked if one could be made for him too. The next day the same client phoned and asked for the order to be extended to two additional bags. Soon the waiting list grew with colleagues and friends all wanting their own Carga bag and the only way forward was to find a workshop which could make the bags to the quality required and at a price that was still reasonable. The Carga collection is based on the desire to use construction techniques in unexpected ways. The nature of the materials along with the individually numbered discs emphasise and heighten the unique nature of each bag, it is little wonder why Mauro's bags are in such demand.

Cargo and Mismo sit side by side.

As mentioned throughout this post, Kapok is a store that only stocks brands that combine design with craftsmanship but many of the products go even further, introducing social and environmental issues to the mix. This is no more apparent than with trainer brand Veja. They are considered by many to be the green sneakers and rightly so but they are much more than that. The label was set up in 2003 by two Frenchmen determined to fight worldwide deforestation, exhaustion of natural resources and Labour exploitation. They managed to come up with one of the best looking fair trade products I've ever come across. Veja works directly with Brazilian small producers, who are organized into cooperatives, of organic cotton and natural latex from the Amazon. The Veja project created a supply chain that respects both humans and the environment. Veja produce simple, low profile trainers produced to a very high quality. Arnault assures me that they are comfortable while ensuring your conscience is clean.

Veja

Now, with no advertising or marketing campaign, Common Projects have become a staple item in the wardrobes of minimalistic trainer lovers worldwide. Seasons after season, their quiet and minimal sneakers have conquered the high-fashion world. With their high quality of materials and handmade techniques, Common Projects have released their Autumn Winter collection, including a very personal take on the dress shoe. Following their success in the world of trainers, Peter and Flavio have spread their wings into dress shoes, boots and accessories. I want everything.


So, I have mentioned clothes, leather accessories and shoes but this passionate French proprietor even thinks about making your feet happy. Happy Socks is a Swedish brand who sold the first pair of socks on 20th August, 2008. The socks are manufactured in Turkey, at a family company that has been in the business for more than 30 years. As they make socks for both the Belgian and Turkish army, we‘re pretty sure that they know how to make socks that last.

Happy Socks...Happy shopping.

In such a small space, Arnault has managed to curate a selection of impressive products that can solve the wardrobe needs of any man. Kapok is my kind of store...I just wish it were a little bit closer because London is crying out for a store as exciting and as varied...oh well, I guess I'll just have to stick to visiting its online shop and I'll certainly visit its blog to discover new talent and labels to covet.

6 comments:

Robin said...

The shirts on the 5th picture look more like berangere claire shirts ...
This shop looks amazing anyway, I'm impressed by the quantity of french brands there.

elizar33 said...

i love happy socks, wish I could buy a pair or two or four? soon...

Ad said...

What a good find, this shop looks amazing.

Michael said...

What a great selection of product.

Mat said...

i sort of mixed the comments up and commented on the wrong one but i guess they are linked. our legacy is what a want...not quite in my budget

Style Salvage Steve said...

Robin: Oh thanks for pointing that out. I may be wrong, I was a little over excited in the store and might have confused myself! Arnault introduced me to lots of French brands that I had not heard of before, it was such a fun shopping experience!
Elizar33: There are just so many colours and prints to choose from, they are quite addictive.
Ad: It was down to luck more than anything...fate even!
Michael: I know, I miss the store already!
Mat: Ha, I thought so! As for Our Legacy, I agree with you but it is worth saving up for...one day!

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