On a walk along the waterfront from Central to Kennedy Town with her husband and their son Rocco recently, Victoria Tang-Owen stumbled across a monumental pile of bamboo waiting to be constructed. “Raw materials inspire me,” the creative director and co-founder of multi-disciplinary studio Thirty30 Creative says. “It’s the underappreciated skills that go into them — like transforming a heap of raw bamboo into an intricate scaffolding structure — that inspire a chain reaction of thoughts in my head.”
Hong Kong provides endless stimulation for Tang-Owen, who spends weekends exploring the city in which she was raised. In Sheung Wan, she knows where to find dim sum steamers being made by hand and the best shop for traditional plimsolls on Hollywood Road. Some days she looks at the shapes and colours of nature. On others, it’s the art, porcelain and curiosities exhibited at major auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s that inspire her collection.
“Hong Kong is a thriving city,” she adds, “but I don't want to neglect the smaller businesses as well. For example, I always get my bananas from an old man who owns a kiosk on the corner [of my neighbourhood] who just sells bananas, fruits and water.”
For the designer, the people of Hong Kong are inspiring. “[They] are very expressive,” she says. “They have a unique attitude to language, food and socialising. I think this is reflected in their clothing choices too. We obviously have a great tradition in garment making and textiles, so I think the idea of dressing up has been in the city’s DNA for a long time.”
Creator of local heritage brand G.O.D., Douglas Young has been one of the biggest contributors to local visual culture with designs that play on tongue-in-cheek Cantonese terms, like his notorious Delay No More T-shirts. For him, “‘5354’ — Cantonese slang for ‘neither here nor there’ — is like a mishmash and that is what Hong Kong style and fashion is about. We should see ‘5354’ as a positive and we should celebrate it!” he says.