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AW21 Hong Kong Fashion Weeek Edit  Shop on LN-CC

Since 2013, the Fashion Farm Foundation (FFF) has shone the spotlight on Hong Kong design talent through HKFG – formerly known as Fashion Guerilla – through a series of on-schedule presentations at Paris Fashion Week. As HKFG Spring/Summer 22 invited industry insiders explored the collections from three of Hong Kong’s most exciting brands, LN-CC shot our pick of the designs against the City of Light backdrop to celebrate the launch of our buy online. Follow Jacqueline de Gorter’s lens as LN-CC meets gender-fluid menswear label PONDER.ER, “ridiculous” art accessories brand PabePabe, and new luxury jewellery label VANN.

AW21 Hong Kong Fashion Weeek Edit  Shop on LN-CC

What was the catalyst for launching pabepave and what drives its vision today?

We studied at the same school, Central Academy of Fine Art In Beijing, and share similar tastes of art and aesthetic. Liu Xing started some design projects about bag and stuff first and then we were both involved in developing them. We found that we can communicate well and always come up with similar ideas so we decided to launch a brand together - which is humorous and ridiculous.

“Ridiculous Aesthetics” is on your insta bio and there’s an undeniable sense of fun that runs throughout PabePabe. How important is adding the unexpected, unfamiliar and otherworldly to the everyday?
For both of us, creating “ridiculous looking” designs is a life-long art project. We hope that we can bring more joy and happiness to our customers by discovering different perspectives of everyday objects.

What would you say is the strongest truth about PabePabe?
We create designs from a standpoint of bringing specialty to the mass, which we believe should be comparatively affordable. Therefore, we put in a lot of effort to reduce the product cost, such as: line up our own assembly line, directly negotiate with the raw materials supplier etc.

And the most common misconception (if any) that we can put right here?
The price. People (especially those in the industry) always come up with questions about how we maintain and balance between the cost and the profits , some may also be concerned about the quality of our products due to the complexity of the design but relatively lower priced.

As the new collection lands at LN-CC, could you introduce it in your own words?
The collection is about people escaping from a place by a self-made raft. The fluidity of the world stopped due to the pandemic and people are trapped in one place (back then and till now), and we were thinking about how PabePabe would escape from a lockdown by a handmade raft. We found a lot of daily objects which can float or inflate, such as air pumps and kickboards, to develop into our bag designs.

And moving on to SS22 which you’re presenting in Paris, could you introduce this chapter to the LN-CC audience?
The SS22 collection is about energy, motivation and inspiration. Our team can feel how the depressing atmosphere is surrounding people nowadays and we hope to bright up others by presenting humorous and unseen ideas. We thought about electricity and energy that leads to light and motion and started to collect everyday objects about electricity such as: sockets , buttons and plugs. After a lot of experiments, we successfully attached the components onto the designs.

How important has the support of HKFG and fashion farm foundation been in opening up vann to the wider world?
With the support of HKFG and Fashion Farm Foundation, we gain a lot of attention and opportunities in the international market. They drive us to another level and broaden our horizons.

Finally, what excites you most about the future?
The uncertainty and unpredictability of the future excite us the most. Face it , tackle it and embrace it.

AW21 Hong Kong Fashion Weeek Edit  Shop on LN-CC

Are we right in saying you met at Central Saint Martins? Can you remember what your first impressions of one another were? When did you begin to collaborate?

Yes! We were both on the same course at Central Saint Martins. Weirdly, we didn’t click right away. Although we are both from Hong Kong, we have different personalities and we kept our distance in the first year at school. But after that, we randomly became flatmates and our friendship developed. I think what we like about each other is how we give each other space and we respect each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We didn’t exactly collaborate at school, but we really supported each other during our Final Year (which is typically a chaotic year for many CSM students), we constantly gave each other honest advice and feedback, and we felt like because of this relationship, that was actually one of the best year of our lives and we both ended up with collections that we are satisfied with and are very different from each other.

What was the catalyst for and what drives your vision today?
It started with us exploring the category of Menswear during our final year at CSM, in some ways we were both challenging the boundaries of what menswear could be and this concept stuck. Another catalyst was a trip to Shanghai fashion week together back in 2018, when we saw the exciting scene of fashion there and how many designers (a lot of them we met in London) were taking fresh approaches. That really sparked our early discussions regarding building this brand that’s about us and many other non-masculine boys (in the stereotypical social terms).

How do you describe the world of PONDER.ER?
Diverse and free. We explore the softness and vulnerability of men through our work, which we describe as “Liquid Masculinity”. It’s a world where men and women can experiment freely not only with what they wear but also what they are interested in, it’s really about self-exploration.

The name PONDER.ER itself is a wordplay of your names, hinting at the balance of the two of you in the label. As you work alongside one another everyday, what would you say is the secret to collaboration and being able to marry your vision/aesthetic?
Respect is really the key to a successful collaboration. We both have so much respect for each other (both at work and personally), so no matter how much we argue and disagree with each other we still come back as one and would think of the best solutions and direction for the brand. It has been a really interesting process for both of us as we have to think “what’s best for PONDER.ER” instead of what’s best for ourselves (which we would say it’s something we were encouraged to do back at school).

To what extent do your experiences in London and Hong Kong influence your work?
Both of us grew up in relatively conservative families, London opened our eyes to not only fashion but also art and lifestyle. It is a place with probably one of the most diverse range of people in the world, and that alone inspires us. We felt like we were surrounded by open-minded people who embrace diversity (gender, sexuality, personality) and originality. With Hong Kong, it’s where we grew up and we have always been inspired by the spirit and the authenticity of the people here, which are sometimes forgotten or overshadowed by how commercialised, and some might think glamorous, the shell of the city is. We think we are a mix of both worlds, and our brand represents that, there are liberating elements in our designs but there’s also a quietness and subtlety in our work.

What would you say is the strongest truth about PONDER.ER?
We would say the strongest truth about PONDER.ER is that it is about our sexuality and how we grew up with it and come to terms with it, but we want to interpret it in a softer and subtle way which is probably more coherent with our characters.

And the most common misconception (if any) that we can put right here?
The most common misconception is that we are a couple because of the fact that we are always together and we basically know all of each other’s friends..

As the new collection lands at LN-CC, could you introduce Where A Man Belongs in your own words? What was the starting point and how did this evolve into the collection we see online today?
It explores the identities of cowboys in a contemporary context. The starting point of the collection was actually vintage cigarette commercials and advertising campaigns that we came across in a book about masculinity. It was quite fascinating to look into how the traditional archetype of the masculine had been presented visually in the past. A lot of traditional cowboy elements, like checkered patterns, piping details and workwear elements, are reinvented with our own language and we explore these features through our unique textiles. The range that we are introducing at LN-CC includes some of the pieces that we love the most from the collection, including our singature HUG shirt, which is a classic men’s shirt, but completely smocked, with a flexible unisex fit, this season we reinvented it with twisting pipping details and dismantled checkered patterns. The knitted denim style wool jacket is also one the highlights of the season, which is a continuation of our playful and experimental take on knit (Alex is a knitwear graduate from RCA).

And moving on to SS22 which you’re presenting in Paris, could you introduce this chapter to the ln-cc audience?
Our SS22 collection LOVE FOR SPEED draws inspiration from another concept of masculinity, which is the “masculine adventurousness”. We started researching risky and reckless activities associated with men, which led us to auto racing and the complex relationship between speed and gender. The short film we are launching during Paris Fashion Week resonates with the theme and asks questions regarding the glorification of reckless behaviours and the possibility of seeing romance in the acts of struggles and violence.

How important has the support of HKFG and fashion farm foundation been in opening up to the wider world?
It’s our third season launching our new collection with HKFG at Paris Fashion Week and we are very grateful to have this much support from the organization. It’s surely a very challenging time for emerging brands and the global fashion business in general, and I think the programme has not only provided financial and PR support for our launch, but also challenged us to work with different platforms and to really adapt to the environment we are in.

Finally, what excites you most about the future?
This might not be a very big dream, but we are excited about the post-COVID era, and how we can travel and to present our collections in person again in Europe or other places around the world soon. We launched our first commercial collection with British Fashion Council in Paris in January 2020, and right after that the pandemic became global. We are so looking forward to re-connect with people in the industry in person and also to meet new friends and collaborators.

AW21 Hong Kong Fashion Weeek Edit  Shop on LN-CC

What was the catalyst for VANN and what drives its vision today?

My background was originally in film art and fashion. My interest in jewellery design was nurtured during the time I did my Master degree in Fashion Artefact in London. VANN is a project where I continue to research and explore design ideas; to use jewellery channeling art, fashion, craft & technology.

How do you describe the world of Vann? And your approach which combines traditional craftsmanship with technical innovation?
VANN is playful, tasteful and unfearful. We dare to take risks creatively to ensure our jewellery always stay strong and fresh. VANN’s jewellery is highly labour-intensive. Most of our prototypes are hand-fabricated and finalised by skilful jewellers in Hong Kong. We also made extensive research and efforts on producing statement jewellery that are extra light weight as our mission is to create something that is not only fashionable but also wearable. Moreover, our signature colourful jewellery offers the collection with a futuristic touch. They are carefully made with a special coating process that is originally applied on auto-mobile and photo cases.

As the new collection lands at LN-CC, could you introduce CRESCENT in your own words? What was the starting point and how did this evolve into the collection of pieces we see online today? What are you most proud of within the collection?
The starting point was to bring the world some optimism. Many designs from this collection feature crescent forms. The word ‘crescent’ is taken from the Latin verb ‘crescere’, meaning “to grow”. Malleable and full-bodied, the Irregular-U Series features warped and moulded crescent forms in eye-catching earrings and chunky chain necklaces. The spectacular sculptural forms are balanced with the precision of barbell details, which creates contrast between the voluminous shapes and sharp, refined points. “The theme of balance is reflected in my jewellery beyond just material contrasts,” “I think the last year has forced us to think not just about where we are going, but where we have come from. We are delicately balanced in a moment in time.” - Vann Kwok I am most proud of the new pearl earrings as it takes the symbol of traditional drop pearls subverts with silhouettes that defy expectations of how earrings are worn.

And moving on to SS22 which you’re presenting in Paris, could you introduce this chapter to the LN-CC audience?
The SS22 “APERTURE” collection from VANN turns up the intensity on signature designs for a distinctive rebellious and romantic look with three main elements - heart, bullet and flame. This season there is a bigger range of sizes with palm-sized Heart Earrings in hollow silver and striking Mini Heart Studs. The unique single heart earrings include barbell and jump-ring details for a playful ‘piercing-on-piercing’ look. As part of the new collection, VANN has introduced an eyelet detail—small rivets in the surface of some designs—to echo a bullet hole. Like a form of elegant target practice, the sense of thoroughness and permeation also represents the idea of breathing and focus. Alongside the heart and bullet imagery, the element of fire sparks passion and desire, illuminating the dichotomy between passion and rebellion. The heat of these powerful metaphors is further emphasised by new colourways, orange and light blue, to capture the hues at the heart of a burning flame.

How important has the support of HKFG and Fashion Farm Foundation been in opening up VANN to the wider world?
With the enormous support from both parties, we get to have the chance to bring the brand to an extra level. We are thrilled to work with a professional team who strongly believes in VANN and to put limitless effort in helping us in every aspect. Besides leading the way to excellent sales platforms and media worldwide, they also share valuable resources in brand consulting and strategic planning that is undoubtedly a dream for every young label.

Finally, what excites you most about the future?
For sure the first time launching VANN at LN-CC. Apart from that, the launch of Aperture, a cinematic short film that captures the essence of the collection. The story of rebellion, danger and passion explores the concepts and vision behind our stunning new designs.

Photography Jacqueline de Gorter, @madame_cinema

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