Yours faithfully, Hong Kong
Harris Chan continues to grow his fashion family tree which is proudly rooted in HK soil. By Kawai Wong. Photography by Calvin Sit
What are the defining characteristics of us Hongkongers? Is it our ‘Ah Q spirit’ – that complacent mentality of refusing to stand up to suppression and injustice, a term Chinese literature giant Lu Xun coined in his 1921 novella The True Story of Ah Q? Well, some cynics may say it is. But the heir-apparent and creative director of high-end fashion brand Moiselle, Harris Chan, would certainly beg to differ.
Moiselle is a Hong Kong brand and proud to be described as such. When HK’s legendary windsurfer Lee Lai-shan struck gold in the 1996 Atlantic Olympics, she emotionally told journalists: “Hong Kong atheletes are not rubbish.” Chan’s parents, who launched Moiselle in 1997, certainly feel the same sentiment for our fashion industry.
More than a decade on from those heady mid-90s, Moiselle now turns over almost HK$500 million a year, thanks to the hard work and business acumen of the Chans – and their Hong Kong pride. “My parents are stubborn in a sense that the more people belittle them, the more they rebel,” says Harris Chan. “They feel like they have to react even if it’s not something personal. For example, when people thought that Hong Kong labels were ‘rubbish’, they started Moiselle, a HK fashion brand to prove haters wrong. It’s a very delicate sentiment for them and it’s all about their love for the city.”
Although Moiselle’s designs aren’t very Hong Kong in essence (the garments are very Lanvin in their elegance, Celine in their minimalism and Gucci in their glamour), Chan strives to inject stylistic elements to balance the Western and Eastern influences. There are Chinese embroideries juxtaposing Western silhouettes – and everything is fitted for the Asian body.
Chan is being groomed to take over the business from his folks one day. The London College of Fashion graduate also studied management and branding at the prestigious design school, and his daily routine includes checking sales reports and planning marketing meetings. “This is a busy time for me,” he says, “as we’re in full preparation for our spring 2013 presentation. I just got back from Taiwan and I’m going to Shanghai and Singapore next as we are planning to open a lot more boutiques this year. So I am basically searching everywhere to check out potential locations and to sign contracts.”
A global expansion seems imminent for Moiselle, as the company has opted for supermodels such as Freja Beha Erichsen and Kasia Struss over local TV celebs such as Ada Choi to front their ad campaigns. “Switzerland and Canada is next on our agenda,” beams Chan. “It is my goal for people the world over to appreciate Moiselle.” There’s none of that negative Ah Q spirit on sale here, then, thank you very much.
Moiselle Shop 5-6, G/F, Central Building, Central, 2810 9811; www.moiselle.com.hk.