Hong Kong’s unique charm comes from its rhythm and multi-faceted nature. To local fashion designer Anais Mak, this atmosphere is what nurtures her work.
So where does one of Hong Kong’s most noteworthy young designers like to hang out for ideas and inspirations? Follow Anais Mak for a look at some interesting and hidden Hong Kong gems.
“There are major malls and flagship stores in Central, but this little shopping arcade is unlike anything else,” says Anais. “Look up and you will see an uneven facade, where the windows are curiously shaped. It’s nostalgia beyond our expectations, with its own personality. The tailors in there are quite famous in the style world. A lot of people bring their brand name clothes and get them altered there, because they do such an amazing job. They have a lot of experience and are very familiar with high-end fashion. They also have colourful personalities, so it’s fun to hang out with them. There are also perfume and leather shops in the building that seem to have been frozen in the 1960s or 1970s. It’s interesting to see such anachronism in the bustling heart of Hong Kong.”
Address: 33 Queen’s Road Central, Central
Hong Kong Island MTR Central Station
“Like the Chungking Mansions, Mirador Mansion houses a mixed crowd of shops and guesthouses and can appear daunting,” says Anais. “But this unique place is also a haven for travellers, who go to the shops on the ground floor for made-to-measure clothing and shoes. They are so efficient that the orders are ready for next-day pick-up. If you are interested, head upstairs for a look at the workshops, where there are a big group of experienced tailors with skills unique to their generation. Take a look at their work and you will understand how that suit jacket can be made so quickly. The structure of the building is special too, with a courtyard surrounded by corridors and flats, which forms a unique pattern when you look down from up high.”
Address: 1A-1J Mody Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
MTR Tsim Sha Tsui Station
Mee & Gee
“This shop is a bit odd,” says Anais. “When I was young, I enjoyed treasure-hunting here, and some of the items I’ve kept till now. Outside of Hong Kong, vintage clothing is considered a style, with items carefully curated by shop owners. But the mode of operation here is different: everything they have is out there, and you need to take the time to pick through them”.
Address: 55 Tung Choi Street, Mong Kok, Kowloon
Central & Western District
Anais lived and went to school in the Mid-Levels neighbourhood, and she likes the shape of the undulating streets. The random turns and ups and downs make it fun to take strolls in the area. “There is colonial architecture as well as food stalls,” she says. “I enjoy taking walks here during the weekends. Recently, the area around Centre Street, Second Street and Third Street has started to attract a younger crowd. Ping Pong Gintonería used to be a place where locals played ping pong, and the bar has kept the feel of ‘a neighbourhood hangout’.”
Close to MTR Central Station, MTR Sheung Wan Station, MTR Sai Ying Pun Station
SCAD Hong Kong
This art school is anything but orthodox, in terms of its architecture, teaching methods and learning atmosphere. “This building is beautiful,” says Anais. “It used to be a courthouse, so its staff room is transformed from a holding cell, and its lecture hall evolved from a courtroom. The lecture hall has kept the original defendant and jury boxes, and also houses installation art by the students. It’s an interesting experience to sit for lectures in the gallery.”
Address: 292 Tai Po Road, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
Canton Singing House
Surprisingly, this was the venue for Mak’s birthday party. “Visitors come to Temple Street, but they might miss this gem. Canton Singing House is one of the most down-to-earth night clubs. It’s got so many uniquely local elements: the neon lights are beautiful, the beer’s cheap, and the atmosphere is in a league of its own. It might have seen better days, but it’s got a loyal following of aged fans who dress up and sing on stage. You can join them too.”
Address: 49–51 Temple Street, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon
MTR Yau Ma Tei Station
Man On Hong Silverwares
To Anais, entering Man On Hong Is like diving into a refreshingly beautiful sea of silverware. “The accessories here are placed really close together. There are many kinds of silverware on offer. Even a plain necklace comes in numerous different widths. You can also find accessories that look like they would be worn by local gangsters, like dragons and crosses. It’s fun. They are skilful and only use pure silver.”
Address: 69 Shan Tung Street, Mong Kok, Kowloon