The Mills'
Event

2021.11.05 - 28

“Foreign Fabric Local Looks: A Hong Kong Suit Story” Exhibition

 “Foreign Fabric Local Looks”

A Hong Kong Suit Story” Exhibition

Date: 5 – 28 Nov 2021 

Time: 11am – 7pm

Venue: The Hall, The Mills

Fee: Free Entry

Men‘s suits from Hong Kong are known globally for their quality and exceptional tailoring. To honour the tailors who endeavoured in this artisanal craft, The Mills has collaborated with The Culturist to present the “Foreign Fabric Local Looks: A Hong Kong Suit Story” exhibition this November. The exhibition will explore the spirit of Hong Kong through our expertise and mastery of tailoring.

The “Foreign Fabric Local Looks: A Hong Kong Suit Story” features interviews and works of world-renowned Hong Kong tailor brands and fashion designers such as Kan Tai-Keung and William Tang, and hosts a series of interactive talks and workshops including the Opening Talk “Tony & Tony”; ”The Language of Suits on Screen“ by​ Renowned Costume Director Tina Liu and a Cuff Links Workshop for visitors to have an inside look into the world of tailoring, a respected and well-known industry in Hong Kong. The exhibition is designed to be reminiscent of tailor shops of the 1960s in the hopes of bringing visitors back to the golden generation of the local bespoke tailoring industry.

The colonial background of Hong Kong produced a unique East-West blend of cultures in a geographically small area. After WWII and the liberation of China, many migrants from the mainland came to Hong Kong. In particular, tailors who migrated from Shanghai brought capital and skills to the city that facilitated the development of the local tailoring industry, which soon cemented Hong Kong’s global reputation for making suits that were “inexpensive, beautiful, precise and fast” with products made within 24 hours of ordering.

 

In the past, bespoke suits were for Shanghai’s tycoons and the rich with very westernised lifestyles. During the industry’s heyday, even foreign heads of state and celebrities including Queen Elizabeth II, Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton, Michael Jackson and David Bowie came to Hong Kong to look for the “Big 4 Tailors”, A-Man Hing Cheong, H. Baromon, Yee On Tai and Ho Chiu for custom made suits. During the Vietnam War, when American warships constantly refilled their supplies in Hong Kong, the American military’s consumption of Hong Kong suits was brought to an all-time high.

The exhibition will share the stories and history of the prosperity and golden age of the local suit industry from major players of the time, including the “big 4 tailors”. In addition, it will feature the story of Cheung Wut Hoi, who was known as the King of Hong Kong Suits and the father of superstar Leslie Cheung.

Tinny Cheng, the curator of the exhibition and the founder of The Culturist, interviewed several well-established tailors and explored the development of the suit industry in Hong Kong from their perspectives. Johny Chiu from JC & Son shared his apprenticeship experience and how he understood the essence of top craftsmanship through making high-end tailored suits. Tony Wong, the second generation of Fu Shing & Son, who grew up in his father’s tailor shop, shared his experience witnessing the ups and downs of the industry. Tony Chang, the second-generation owner of Ascot Chang, a top-notch shirtmaker who later became a suit tailor, explained how his father used their extensive customer database to open stores overseas and introduced the traditional Shanghainese craftsmanship to the wider world. Famous customers of Ascot Chang include George H.W. Bush, NBA star Grant Hill, movie star Leonardo DiCaprio, and star architect I.M. Pei.

Bespoke tailoring originated from two major schools – the Cantonese, and the Shanghainese. Skills and pricing between these styles were vastly different. As bespoke tailoring became more popular, the Indians also joined in. Roshan Melwani, the third generation of Sam’s Tailor, elaborated on how the industry went from prosperity to its present relative decline and how he improved the designs with innovative thinking by understanding the market’s needs.

Hong Kong was the first Chinese-inhabited area to adopt western-style school uniforms. This exhibition highlights how a generation of world-renowned Hong Kong tailors were nurtured and how they dealt with changes in society, style, and culture through innovation along with various signature exhibits. These include an eight-foot-long tailor’s table that was put on display for the first time as well as traditional sewing machines. It also features some trivia and brings focus to interesting details of tailor-made Hong Kong suits, including the different styles and things to look out for in quality craftsmanship. Famous designer-artist Kan Tai-keung, known as Uncle Kan, shared his stories of being a tailoring apprentice and developing himself from a tailor to a fashion designer.

The “Foreign Fabric Local Looks: A Hong Kong Suit Story” exhibition showcase eight iconic “Made-in-Hong Kong” suits and the stories behind them. These include a school uniform from the 1970s from William Tang and suits worn by Li Man-king, the famous pioneer of radio novel broadcasting known as Li Ngaw. The exhibition concludes with the latest famous Hong Kong-made suit in “Ossan’s Love”, one of the hottest TV dramas this year, in which suits sponsored by Ascot Chang were featured. Custom-made suits worn by popular boy band MIRROR’s members Anson Lo and Edan Lui in the drama will also be displayed at the exhibition, definitely a spot not to be missed for all. 

Leather dress shoes are often one of the highlights of the of the suited look, and shoe-shining services were a booming street industry during the 1960s. To complete the nostalgic experience of this era in Hong Kong’s history, The Mills has re-created a traditional shoe-shine stand with a retro photography studio for visitors to immerse themselves in.

Fu Shing & Son Pop Up Store

Date: 5 – 28 Nov 2021 

Time: 12 – 7pm (Mon-Fri) / 12 – 8pm (Sat-Sun)

Location: FM+ (Shop G04) The Mills

The Mills’ “Foreign Fabric Local Looks” limited-edition Paper-Thin Personas

During the exhibition period, visitors who spend HK$300 or more across two transactions can redeem The Mills’ “Foreign Fabric Local Looks” limited-edition Paper-Thin Personas after completing a simple survey while stocks last.

Redemption Period: 5 – 28 Nov 2021
Location: G/F Concierge

“Foreign Fabric Local Looks” 

Talks and Workshops

Opening Talk “Tony & Tony”:

Tony Wong, 2nd Gen. of Fu Shing & Son
X Tony Chang, 2nd Gen. of Ascot Chang

Date : 6/11 (Sat)

Time : 3:00pm – 4:00pm

Venue : The Hall, G/F, The Mills

Language : Cantonese

“The Language of Suits on Screen“

Sharing Talk by​ Renowned Costume Director Tina Liu

Date : 20/11 (Sat)

Time : 3:00pm – 4:00pm

Venue : The Hall, G/F, The Mills

Language : Cantonese

Cuff Link Workshop

Date : 13/11 or 27/11 (Sat)

Time : 2:00pm – 3:30pm

Venue : 4/F, The Mills

Language : Cantonese

Fee:$280

Leather Card Holder with Suits Lining Fabric Workshop

Date : 13/11 or 27/11 (Sat)

Time : 4:00pm – 5:30pm

Venue : 4/F, The Mills

Language : Cantonese

Fee:$450

“Automatic Tailor – Journey in Digital Transformation” Workshop by The Mills Fabrica

Date 13/11 or 20/11 (Sat)

Time : 2:00pm – 3:00pm

Venue 4/F, The Mills

Language : Cantonese/English

Fee:$100

Tailor Mr. Chiu’s Experience Event & Sharing

Date : 21/11 (Sat)

Time : 2:00pm – 4:00pm

Venue : The Hall, G/F, The Mills

Language : Cantonese

*Walk-in event, no pre-registration is needed