‘Hong Kong is a city with some of the world’s highest spending-power customers. They’re very international and value quality in lifestyle. These past few years, we’ve seen them shop more selectively and look for quality in everything — even basic wardrobe items that will last for seasons, rather than following the seasonal trend,’ says Helen Lip, Director – Brands at Swire Resources, which represents hit Parisian brand The Kooples in Hong Kong.
A category of its own
The affordable luxury category sits somewhere between fast fashion and contemporary, and is growing not only in Asia but around the world. Although many of these brands have an international presence, they still possess an aura of exclusivity thanks to specific values that have resulted in a new niche in the market.
‘Our brand DNA is to offer high-end design and quality at an affordable price. That niche really appeals to our customers in Hong Kong, as well as globally,’ says Marie Honda, managing director of COS.
So what is it about these brands that make them so appealing to shoppers? Like fast fashion, they focus on multiple drops throughout the season so there’s a consistent element of newness for the customer. But rather than follow trends, they create their own, as well as differentiating themselves in other ways.
‘We create intelligent, wearable interpretations of key fashion trends. I believe Whistles pieces add a relevant edge to a woman’s wardrobe - they’re never disposable and always flattering. The quality of the materials and the exclusivity of our prints make us different from fast fashion,’ says Ariane Zagury, whose Rue Madame Fashion Group has brought affordable luxury brands such as Whistles and Phase Eight to Hong Kong.
A consistent style and sense of authenticity also separates this group from its contemporary and high-street counterparts. COS, which is part of the H&M group, is headquartered in London, allowing the brand’s team of designers to draw inspiration from one of fashion’s edgier capitals. As such, their collections are motivated by the more cerebral worlds of design and architecture rather than the catwalks.
In COS’s Spring / Summer 2018 collection, proportions and details are inspired by paper, from pattern cutting to draping and 3D work. Highlights include reworked trench coats with organic soft shoulders, transparent vests, knitted sets with evolved proportions and tailored pieces with unexpected lengths and cuts.
The brand DNA of COS is to offer high-end design and quality at an affordable price