With Fall on our heels, it’s time again to take a look at the colours that will be dominating the fashion radar through to the year’s end.
The Fall 2016 palette continues on the calming trajectory that was started in Spring, putting forth a feel-good medley of comforting blues, greys and earth tones punctuated by more exotic shades of spicy mustard yellows and terracotta.
Released biannually, the Pantone Colour Institute’s Fashion Colour Report gives us the look-ahead for the upcoming season, giving us stunningly accurate predictions of the colours that we are bound to see or be seen in in the coming months (and beyond). View the full Pantone Colours for Fall 2016 colour palette and tell us which colours you’re most excited about!
Airy Blue (Pantone 14-4122)
A cousin of Spring’s IT colour — Serenity, Airy Blue is a light powdery blue that evokes feelings of lightness and freedom.
Aurora Red (Pantone 18-1550)
This warm, punchy orange-red immediately draws the eye, the perfect shade when you are feeling playful and confident.
Bodacious (Pantone 17-3240)
A bright violet with a pinkish tint, this statement-making hue lends a new and vibrant angle to Fall’s main palette. A nod to the gender fluidity we continue to see, Bodacious urges fun through experimentation.
Dusty Cedar (Pantone 18-1630)
If rose gold could be translated into an opaque hue, it’ll be dusty cedar. The lushness of this dusty and rosy pink is equally stunning whether mixed into our outfits or used as an accent for the home.
Lush Meadow (Pantone 18-5845)
Reminiscent of fresh botanicals and foliage, lush meadow brings richness and elegance to anything it touches.
Potter’s Clay (Pantone 18-1340)
Often bound to textures like leather and suede, Potter’s Clay is a rich, layered terracotta with russet orange undertones. Grounded yet full of depth, it is an exciting colour to adopt for Fall.
Riverside (Pantone 17-4028)
Blue looks to be Fall 2016’s MVP colour. This dusky blue is cool and calming, yet laced with a subtle vibrancy and sophistication.
Sharkskin (Pantone 17-3914)
Gray has always been a practical and reliable choice for the wardrobe, but this Fall season, it has been given an edge. Practically a neutral, sharkskin can be paired with almost any fall colour, bright or muted.
Spicy Mustard (Pantone 14-0952)
While mustard is not new to the trend wheel, Fall 2016’s version is a spicier and zestier yellow than previous seasons. You’ll see it mixed up in unexpected pairings. — through abstract and geometric accents for instance.
Warm Taupe (Pantone 16-1318)
Beige and neutral hues are having their moment in fashion right now. Being suitable for all skin tones, warm taupe ticks all the right boxes.
FIND MORE STYLE HOW TO IDEAS ON OUR PINTEREST BOARD.
In a time when sophistication has becomes a main driver of people’s spending habits, independent retailers like Gifts Less Ordinary have found the winning formula. Bespoke and personalisation are key ingredients to this.
The idea for Gifts Less Ordinary came to its founder, Amy Read, when her best friend sent her a gift that contained a personalised baby blanket and a pair of shoes with her newborn son’s name imprinted on it.
“The gift came in a beautiful Tiffany-esque box. I was so overwhelmed with how beautiful and personal it was; it made me realise that we needed these kinds of gifts to be available in Asia,” says Amy.
First launched in Singapore and Hong Kong, Gifts Less Ordinary has recently expanded its reach to include Japan, Australia and the U.S. Its calling card remains its unique gifting concept — personalised luxury ‘giftables’ so popular, they’ve been picked up by The British Royal Family. Well if they’re fit for a royal, they’re good enough for us. We take 5 with Amy Read to understand how to take a independent brand and make it a global business.
I wanted everything to be personal and unique, from the products we deliver to the customer service we offer. I wanted to create an online shopping experience that was likened to shopping at a luxury boutique, handpicking only the most beautiful and unique products to feature on the site.
We are very selective about the brands we feature on the site, the most important thing for us is that the products are unique, and if they are bespoke and personalised, then even better.
Typical products on the site include luxury embossed cufflink cases, to personalised jewellery and beautiful embroidered blankets with a new baby’s name and date of birth.
We also try to find the very best locally themed gifts, whether it be typographic or personalised vintage maps, to redesigning historical objects of interest to create unique pieces of jewellery.
The Knack of Gifting
It’s all in the presentation and demonstrating that special someone means the world to you, whether it be by gifting an embossed necklace with a personal message or date on it, to gifting a new born a personalised blanket that they will treasure for life.
We focus on our niche. For us it’s all about personalisation or offering something unique. We really wish to own the gifting market, so we will always be the first brand someone would consider when trying to find something that is that bit different.
Secrets to Growth
Growth has firstly, come from our ability to scale and enter new markets quickly. Our operating model transcends all markets and we recognize that the demand for unique and personalised gifts is global and not just limited to Asia.
Secondly, for us it’s all about retention. We recognise that when we exceed a customer’s expectations in terms of delivery, quality and uniqueness of the products, that they will come back to us for all their gifting needs.
When we launched we had online stores in Singapore and Hong Kong. In June, we rolled Gifts Less Ordinary out to three new markets; Japan, Australia and the U.S.
When we launched our Australian online store, we issued a press release with a picture featuring one of the products on the site, a robe that was worn by Prince George when he met President Obama earlier this year. Within a day, a few major media publications including the Daily Mail, Women’s Weekly and Marie Claire featured the story, and within 5 minutes we had oversold that robe. We then had to go back to customers and apologise, which is when we recognised that we needed to sync stock and products uploads with some of our best selling partners, so this could never happen again.
When you start a business, you have to be open to change and resilient to the knocks you may encounter on the way.
I feel fortunate enough to work with an amazing team, who are as passionate and dedicated as me, and without them we wouldn’t be where we are now as a business.
It’s also important to make quality time for family and friends, as they are the ones who pick you up when it gets rough, and help you celebrate in the good times.
We are continuing to seek out the most unique brand and products we can feature on the site, whilst trying to increase brand awareness across all markets in which we operate. We will also continue to roll out to new markets over the course of the year, as we recognise in the international world we live in today, customers wish to ship globally.
We are also working with CrescoData to sync stock levels and product listings with Partners so we can better manage high surges in demand for select products.
SHOP THE STORY
Hong Kong. A city in constant movement and flux. Each visit only affirms the belief that you’ll never run out of things to do here. Whether it’s your first time touching down in the city, or a veteran traveller looking for some new places to discover, get your pen and notebook at the ready, as Priscilla I’Anson has her (fashionably oversized) sleeves full of useful tips and local know-how worth stashing.
Priscilla is a woman resolute to make the world a more stylish place. As a stylist, her work ranges from styling commercials to celebrities to editorials to private clients. In 2015, she was enlisted as the new Fashion Director for Asia’s Next Top Model. That same year, she launched her own womenswear brand, PI’A, which is due to make its New York fashion week debut in September. Here, she shares her favourite plays, stays and short getaways in Hong Kong. But be warned, there’s an inordinate display of indulgent weekend brunches, discount luxury shopping and all-round luxuriating to inspire some serious travel envy.
Hong Kong’s vibe…
The energy in Hong Kong is limitless. There is a certain drive and ambition here that you just cannot find anywhere else in the world. People here work hard and play hard. It’s endlessly inspirational and the start-up community is refreshingly supportive of one another. Our style mimics the energy of the city. Hong Kong people dress for success. We take a lot of pride in the way we present ourselves.
Favourite thing about Hong Kong…
The sense that anything is possible here. Dream and it can happen.
Least favourite thing about Hong Kong…
There is a long history of ‘taipans’ in Hong Kong; a taipan is basically the scion of a large corporation and yields a lot of power. Many of these taipans are stuck in their old-fashioned ways and are unwilling to take a chance on something different. I think that in order for Hong Kong to continue to be regarded as a modern forward-thinking city, these taipans will play a huge part in allowing that to happen. They need to step up and do their part!
Fun fact about the locals…
As a greeting, instead of saying, “Hi, how are you?” we ask, “Have you eaten yet?” Food is an integral part of our lifestyle. We work hard so lunch hours are sacred, as are happy hour drinks and nice dinners!
Best time to visit…
My favourite time of year is October to early December. The heat dies down, the rain stops and there’s a slight shift in the energy as the year winds down and people start focusing on the holidays and spending time with family.
A useful local tip…
Some of the best restaurants and shops don’t open until the afternoon and stay open until past midnight. Make sure you check the opening hours of places you want to visit before heading there!
What to pack…
You have to pack one absolutely fabulous outfit. There will most certainly be some dinner, some party, some cocktail, some event that you will attend while you are here. Dress to impress. You can never be ‘overdressed’ in Hong Kong.
L: Hong Kong Skyline, R: Star Ferry
Hong Kong Black Book
The Peak — Do the hike up from Central if possible. It’s gruelling but short, and the view at the top is worth it.
Tamar Waterfront — Pack a picnic and take in the view across to Kowloon-side
Southside — Head for the beaches such as South Bay Beach or Big Wave Bay to experience a totally different side of Hong Kong.
The Big Buddha — Take the cable car from Tung Chung, the ride is an experience it itself.
The Upper House is my go-to recommendation. The staff service is unparalleled and they really make you feel like you’re at home. It’s convenient and the view from Cafe Grey is priceless.
The Mandarin Oriental is full of old-time charm. Head to the Captain’s Bar for colonial style drinks and live jazz.
The Island Shangri-La will forever hold a special place in my heart as I spent many birthdays as a toddler there.
The W Hotel is great for someone who wants to enjoy a more lively, modern atmosphere and they also have a pretty incredible rooftop infinity pool.
Tim Ho Wan is my number one recommendation for a seriously cheap Michelin-starred dim sum meal—just be prepared to line up. I suggest going to the IFC location, because you can grab a table number and do some shopping while you wait).
Ho Lee Fook is great for modern Chinese cuisine in a stylish, fun environment (and, yes, the name is deliberately cheeky)!
Cafe Caussette is my personal go-to for afternoon tea, their scones and rose jam are divine.
If you’re like me and can’t bear to drink bad coffee, head to Fuel for an excellent hit of caffeine.
L: The Peak Walking Trail, R: The Peak at sunset
I’m someone who loves to find a gem and so I personally love shops off the beaten track.
Horizon Plaza in Ap Lei Chau is a building of floor-after-floor of warehouses from the likes of Lane Crawford, JOYCE, Chloé and Saint Laurent, selling off-season stock at excellent prices.
My secret shopping gem is called La Place and it’s filled with second-hand pieces from Chanel, Givenchy, Marni and more.
Head to PMQ to support local designers; the venue is filled with local designers and creatives.
Finally, I suggest checking out SoHo area in Central for some cute little boutiques for a cheap-and-cheerful find.
Hiking up to The Peak is one of my favourite things to do on the weekend.
A long brunch is another great weekend activity. My current favourite place is Grassroots Pantry; they do an excellent healthy pancake and cocoa acai bowl.
I also love having dimsum with my family on the weekend. Our go-to is Metropol Restaurant in United Centre; they still have the traditional pushcarts brimming with fresh steaming delights.
I also love to escape the city and head to the beach when I can. Usually I take my dog Foxy to Middle Island for a walk and a swim.
You can’t leave Hong Kong without…
I just love the Star Ferry. The journey across the harbour seems to get shorter and shorter (all that land reclamation!) but the view only gets better each time.
While technology has somewhat evened out the playing field between fashion startups and global luxury brands, the success and longevity of legacy brands along the likes of Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Hermès are not to be downplayed.
True luxury brands in particular have managed to cultivate an image of timelessness, despite shifting consumer values and quickening production cycles that threaten to upset luxury’s retail dominion. These brands have mastered the emotional pull; they understand the psychological triggers that motivate a seemingly impractical purchase. More importantly, they know how to integrate their products into peoples’ lives.
This has been no mean feat; requiring luxury brands to exhaust every move in the playbook and to find new ways to innovate. In their efforts to locate the sweet spot between critical and commercial success, luxury brands have even relented on their once-resolute stance against e-commerce. Here, we’ve identified some of the key factors necessary to the success of a luxury fashion label today.
Balance exclusivity and accessibility
Fashion’s luxury megabrands have long straddled a tightrope when it comes to exclusivity and accessibility, seducing customers with handsome, exorbitant goods that convey taste, rarity and prestige, while conspiring to move inventory at ever increasing volumes. Brands like Hermès maintain an aura of exclusivity by orienting perception towards the brand’s heritage and craft credentials. In addition, it has made it difficult for customers to get their hands on its star products — the coveted and chronically waitlisted Birkin and Kelly bags. But let’s face it; exclusivity in real terms is not good for the bottom line. So although luxury fashion brands are still primarily targeted at high-net-worth individuals, they are increasingly opening their channels to the masses. The timing is ripe, considering today’s consumers are less concerned about the rarity of their possessions and more interested in the experience and production practices behind them.
Create a unique retail experience
The luxury market is still very much distinguished through in-store experiences. Brands like Chanel, Gucci and Burberry are flexing their higher-status with customised, out-of-the-box retail experiences in order to attract more customers to their stores. Blending technology with couture, Burberry’s global flagship in London’s Regent Street boasts an enriched and interactive experience complete with interactive digital screens that stream bespoke multimedia content. Mirrors are instantly transmuted into screens displaying runway footage while satellite technology enables the live streaming of events. Not to be outdone, brands such as Gucci and Longchamp have staged highly publicised artisan workshops and exhibitions within its stores, giving consumers a close-up view of the skills and labour that goes into a single handmade luxury item. Encouraging participation in such ‘behind the scenes’ processes creates room for good storytelling, and helps consumers feel closer to the brand. Following in the footsteps of the luxury leaders, we’ve seen more and more brands taking the more ‘considered’ approach; challenging the notions of traditional retail by investing in inspirational showrooms where one is able to experience, appreciate and learn about the brand.
Leverage user-generated content
What better way to demonstrate a product’s popularity and efficacy than by having it field-tested by real people? Burberry has effectively harnessed the capabilities of the user-powered campaign in its project titled the “Art of the Trench”. Banking on the universal appeal of its iconic trench coat, the “Art of the Trench” showcases plebeians and style influencers alike styling their Burberry trench coats to suit different weather, lifestyles and preferences. The campaign has really taken off, with customers from Shanghai to Los Angeles joining forces to celebrate the classic outerwear of choice. Roping in social media influencers are likely to help such campaigns resonate better with the growing digital generation.
Growing up in Ferrals-les-Corbieres, a small village in the South of France, Kapok’s founder, Arnault Castel, remembers an affinity with the shops he grew up with. They were meeting places, where people could gather and discover inspiring goods. This sentiment followed him through life and when the opportunity came for Castel to turn this into reality, he seized it.
He was 22, freshly graduated and had just seen Wong Kar Wai’s seminal film, “Chungking Express”. Thirsting for a change of scenery, Arnault made the impulse move to Hong Kong. One thing led to another, and Arnault settled into life in Hong Kong. Castel was working for Italian notebook brand Moleskine as a distributor when he stumbled upon what would be Kapok’s first store:
“I was looking for an office for 2 people and I found a great space in a quiet Hong Kong street in Tin Hau, right next to a huge tree (which gave me the idea for the store name). The space was too big for my office so I decided in 2 minutes “let’s open a store”.”
It was immediately clear that Kapok wouldn’t just be any ordinary store. “I bought a huge vintage table and I presented some products found during my trips,” he says. An avid traveller, Castel filled out the store with prized objects he found on his journeys. “I loved shopping in Paris or Tokyo, and the feeling you could suddenly discover some very interesting products randomly in a small street.” Up till today, that strategy has served Kapok well, except the brands under its stable now range from superstylin’ cult label Maison Kitsune, to niche labels from as far away as Sweden.
We speak to Arnault Castel about where he’s taken the business and what lies ahead.
‘Kapok’ was named after the Kapok tree with the hope that it would become a meeting place for inspiring quality goods. How has this vision held true over the years?
The name of the store is related to our mission. Kapok trees grow tall in their ecosystem, branching out to provide shelter to plants and animals dependent on it for nourishment and exposure. So, with kapok, we also try to provide a unique roof under which people in the community can meet and find inspiring quality goods. This mission guides our work and our decision every day. Hong Kong is a very tough market, but 10 years later we are still around, and we are still having fun and surprising people. Our job is not done, but we are on the right track!
You’ve now launched your own line called “Future Classics”. What do you hope to bring with this addition?
There are tons of brands in the market now and we didn’t want to add just another brand with nothing new to offer. Our new brand, Future Classics is based on who we are: a retailer that has been around for 10 years in Hong Kong. We really know what is missing and what customers look for that doesn’t already exist. As we are based in Hong Kong and Singapore, we wanted to create a brand that is perfectly suited for these countries: perfect for our weather and our hectic lifestyle. We paid a lot of attention to the fabrics and the fits. It took us one year to get it right, but the response has been great so far!
What does a typical day of work involve for you?
When I wake up, I play some music, shower and have a coffee. Sometimes I gym, then I spend the day meeting my team, meeting some of my brands, visiting the stores, and another good amount of time on emails. I always take some time to read and research. In the evening, it’s either a game of tennis, movies or TV shows to unwind and a nice home-cooked meal. It will vary depending on how social I feel, as I alternate wildly between introvert and extrovert moods.
What are your criteria for selection when it comes to curating brands for the store?
There is a very fine balance. Most of us are driven by two opposite impulses: the need to belong to a group, a community and the need to be different and unique. When it comes to choosing products for kapok, we need to find the perfect equilibrium between these two needs. I guess it’s like cooking, after a while you don’t need to follow the recipe book by the letter and you can start experimenting, while knowing if it will taste good or not. So we can take chances, and follow our gut feeling. This way, we have some nice surprises and we limit the big mistakes (we still make some mistakes but we never place a huge order on a new brand or product so we survive these errors).
What are some of the greatest challenges you’ve faced since starting and running the business?
Landlords here are notorious for their greed. Even if I get a good deal, once the contract is up, they’d double my rent, and so I can’t put all my eggs in one basket. The recent slowdown in the Mainland Chinese economy has had a spillover effect on Hong Kong’s property market, as shops once occupied by luxury brands sit empty. Maybe this is an opportunity to open an emporium with a proper cafe, a bigger selection of clothes, books and magazines… Let’s see…
How would you describe Kapok’s company culture?
It’s a lot of fun and a lot of hard work at the same time. Kapok is now at the right size, we are big enough to do interesting projects, work with the brands we love and develop our own brands.
Finding the right manpower has been one of the most oft-cited difficulties in retail. How do you personally cope with this?
Retail is tough. It’s a lot of very detailed work, it is tiring and customers can be difficult at times. But I love how it combines so many skills: psychology, business, and art, and we can test and try new ideas and see the results very quickly. To find the right team, I need to always share this passion and also make sure that the team members’ ideas are heard and applied. Finally it’s important to show there’s a good career path in the company. All our buyers, for instance, have started working on the shop floor and continue to do so.
How much of what you do is inspired by travel? Do you have a favourite travel story or encounter to share?
Travel is central to the kapok experience. I don’t attend any trade show (except men’s fashion week in Paris) as they are really not fun, tiring and you end up with the same products as every other store. Instead of visiting these shows, I go twice a year to a totally new city. I do some research and find out about the best stores and brands in these new places, and this is how I find a lot of unknown brands or products for the store. It’s a mix of holiday and work (but it doesn’t feel like work at all). What I really love is to hear some customers say, “Oh remember we saw that in Copenhagen, or LA” or anywhere I have been travelling. We all love to escape, to travel, and to discover and I am very happy when kapok allows our fans to have a short escape during their day.
How do you maintain some semblance of your French roots while carving a life in Hong Kong?
French culture and identity is so strong. It’s akin to having a stubborn French accent — I wouldn’t worry how to lose it. In any case, I travel to France three or four times a year, so I never really feel isolated from my French roots.
What do you love most about what you do?
I work everyday surrounded by beautiful objects and installations in the store. But first and foremost, I love my team – I love their energy, their ideas and their spirit.
If you could go back and do one thing differently at the start of your business, what would it be?
I would worry less and cry less. Obstacles that seemed major and impassable were not so significant after all.
What are you working on now and what lies ahead?
We are doing a lot of “hidden work” to find more exciting brands, make our stores more handsome and livelier and also to make our customers happier. I don’t believe in big concepts but rather in perfect execution by a focused and happy team, so this is what we will be doing.
All images courtesy of Kapok.