Welcome to brand land

From fab to fake, it'll be in Hong Kong, says Rachael Oakes Ash.

The shape of shopping in Hong Kong has evolved from the dominant mall mindset that appeared in the 1960s and 1970s - and led to one-stop designer shopping destinations that now include The Landmark, IFC, Prince's Building and Chater House with big brand names Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermes and their equally expensive friends.

Today, Hong Kong serves up equal amounts of mall madness, street market mania and outlet malls for designer discounts, along with the booming independent hole in the wall shops that offer vintage designer gear.

Luxury brands have long done big business in Hong Kong, where mainland millionaire Chinese arrive with plastic in hand and servants in tow to schlep booty from Cartier, Rolex, Gucci, etc, back to their five-star suites in the city's Central district.

If you have the dough, Hong Kong has more Swiss watches than Geneva and the United States put together. Tiffany has nine Hong Kong outlets, so does Cartier, while Burberry has 12 - which kind of defeats the purpose of luxury being exclusive.

To satisfy a deep lust for luxe, make your way to IFC Mall (IFC.com.hk), home to the Four Seasons, on the aptly titled Finance Street in Central. Mingle with Alfred Dunhill, Bally, Bvlgari, Chloe, Chopard, Zegna, Furla, Givenchy, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Makimoto, Miu Miu, Omega, Prada, Rolex and more.

Unsated? Try the linked luxury malls of the Landmark (landmark.hk) including Alexandra House, Chater House and the Prince's Building for Balenciaga, Anya Hindmarsh, Bottega Veneta, Charlotte Olympia, Celine, Costume National, Dolce & Gabbana, Manolo Blahnik, Marc Jacobs, Paul Smith, Moschino and Fendi.

Department store mavens may prefer to swan the five floors of British favourite Harvey Nichols (harveynichols.com) or get lost in the divine acres of designer precincts within the gallery-esque Lane Crawford (lanecrawford. com) in the IFC. Local icon Joyce is not technically a department store but it does offer the region's best fashion designers alongside the world's most coveted Valentino, de la Renta and Versace. Roll up your sleeves during sale time as these stores offer major discounts on coveted brands.

Discounts are also found at Citygate Outlets Mall (citygateoutlets.com.hk) on Lantau Island near Hong Kong International Airport with more than 80 brand outlets offering up to 70 per cent discounts year round. Brooks Brothers, Bally, Burberry mix it up with Diane von Furstenberg, Tommy Hilfiger and Vivienne Tam.

The Horizon Plaza and Space Outlet (for Prada) in Ap Lei Chau in Aberdeen also offer major discounts, though it can be hit and miss for size and range. Horizon Plaza also boasts the Lane Crawford outlet. If you are prepared to rummage, you may find yourself walking out with Prada, Miu Miu, Jimmy Choo, Paul Smith, Moschino and more. Don't go on a Monday as most stores at Horizon are closed.

Of course you could just fake it till you make it. Asia is a pilgrimage for those seeking faux designer handbags with many thought to be "off the back of a faulty designer truck". If you must, try the street markets at Temple Street Night Markets in Kowloon, the Ladies Markets at Mongkok or Jardine's Crest in Causeway Bay.

With so much designer merchandise on offer there are bound to be some great vintage and pre-loved stores and there are some fantastic retro chic independent boutiques. Do call first as some have odd opening hours.

In Central, try Bang Bang 70s in Soho district (16A Aberdeen St) for loved luxe fashion. Hong Kong Treasure is a cove of vintage clothes, jewellery and costumes in Kowloon City (82 Tak Ku Ling Road). Zhan vintage store is run by Ann Hung, a Hong Kong fashion stylist, and is in the back of Ray Chan hair salon (Shop 1, G/F, Po Hing Court, 10 - 18 Po Hing Fong) in Sheung Wan and worth a look.

Try Green Ladies in Wan Chai for refurbished designer fashion (greenladies.sjs.org.hk) and Maggie & Co, in Central (Flat 801 - 802 Kai Tak Commercial Building, 66-72 Stanley Street) for serious secondhand prestige designer deals and shelves and shelves of lust-worthy shoes with equally lust-worthy designer names.

If you prefer your fashion bespoke, head to Ian Fong's Cuffs (cuffs.hk) shirt and suit bar in Causeway Bay for custom-made attire. Or there's Bill Clinton and Tony Blair's favourite -Sam's Tailor (samstailor.com) at 94 Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui. Mr and Mrs Leung at Linva Tailor make the city's finest cheongsams in lush silk and velvet fabrics.

You'll find her at 38 Cochrane Street in Central under the Mid Levels escalator.

HOW TO PUT WIND IN YOUR SALES

Hong Kong has two distinct sale periods each year. The winter sales are from Christmas through to Chinese New Year in February. The Hong Kong Tourism Board also promotes an annual summer festival for shopping. Once known as the Hong Kong Shopping Festival - now the Hong Kong Summer Spectacular - the festival generated more than $14 billion (spent by 4.5 million shopping tourists along with locals) in 2012.

Malls and independent stores all get involved. There are longer trading hours and Quality Tourism Services Scheme merchants display discount signage in the store windows of those involved in the annual summer shopping festival. Look out for these for further discounts.

Vouchers offer further discounts on already discounted items and are distributed through the Hong Kong Tourism Board, which also publishes a shopping guide for the festival. The guide can be found at the international airport and various malls. Visa offered a Quality Summer Privilege scheme from June 21 to August 31 this year, with major discounts and shopping privileges for those buying with a Visa card. Expect similar promotions in 2014.

TRIP NOTES

GETTING THERE

Qantas flies daily from both Sydney and Melbourne to Hong Kong, with five flights a week on the A380 from Sydney. Return fares start at $788 including taxes. See qantas.com.au or phone 1800 227 4500.

STAYING THERE

Mandarin Oriental celebrates 50 years as Hong Kong's iconic hotel destination. From HK$4700 ($665) for a deluxe room. 5 Connaught Road, Central, see mandarinoriental.com/hongkong.

The Four Seasons has direct access to IFC Shopping Mall. From HK$5900 for a deluxe Peak View room. 8 Finance St, Central, see fourseasons.com/hongkong.

Mira Moon is Hong Kong's latest hip boutique hotel with a contemporary spin on old world China. Priced from HK$2600. 388 Jaffe Road, Wanchai, see miramoonhotel.com.

MORE INFORMATION

discoverhongkong.com.

Comments