In most parts of the world it’s unusual to come across a well-designed shopfront on a university campus – but not at Hong Kong’s red-bricked Polytechnic University. With a Zaha Hadid building for lectures and alumni including fashion designer Vivienne Tam, The School of Design has long been considered one of the city’s most exciting institutes. Its latest innovation is Store, a shop and learning laboratory that sells products made by the university’s alumni and acts as a real-world classroom to teach students the business side of their field.
The experiment is the idea of associate professor Christina Wong, who normally spends her time lecturing and researching the fashion business and marketing. “Many people had asked me where they could buy local designers’ works,” she says. “Most of the independent brands were scattered across shops and facing challenges in the market so I wanted to start a store to become their platform.”
Five years ago she came up with the idea of a self-sustaining retail project on campus that celebrates “designed in Hong Kong”. Now that idea is a reality. Store sells items including scarves, tote bags made from recycled material and jewellery. It’s all made by Hong Kong designers, many of whom were once taught by Wong or her colleagues.
A firm believer in learning outside of the classroom, Wong wants Store to be both a stage for seasoned and younger designers to ex-change ideas and a testing ground for business-minded students to work on skills such as entrepreneurship, visual merchandising and buying. Store also has an online shop that provides crucial lessons in multi-channel retailing.
Since it opened in October, Store has proved to be popular with shoppers well beyond the campus. “Hong Kong is a cut-through market for independent designers,” says Wong. “The good news is some of the products have sold out already. They’re flying off the shelves.”
The luxury goods resale market is big business and Josh Luber knows it. He set up StockX back in 2015 along with Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert; today the stock-market-style platform is used by eight million people a month and sees more than $2m (€1.7m) a day in sales of shoes, watches, handbags and streetwear. StockX is now expanding into the UK. “The UK trainer resale market alone is worth an estimated £200m (€224m) annually and it’s set to grow,” says CEO Luber.
Q. What would you spend €5,000 on?
Answer: “I’d set aside a bit for my kids’ college funds, and a nice spa day for my wife. Then I’d invest as much as I could in increased equity in StockX because of my continued belief in the team that got us here.”
By 2017, the 45-year-old Australian Film, Television and Radio School was recognised as one of the world’s leading media institutions. But its branding had grown stale. The school hired Sydney’s M35 studio to create a future-focused identity for everything from its signage to digital and editorial content. The result is dynamic and modern.
“The cut you see running through the type is a timeline moving forward,” says M35 director Jamie Mitchell. “It was a way of speaking not only to the commonalities between the technical sides of film and radio but also to the idea of constant progress.”
From Inditex to Amazon, the success of some of the world’s biggest companies is built on logistical finesse. But Spanish trucking entrepreneur Jaime Colsa has gone one step further with Palibex. He’s commissioned artists to paint 27 of his 500-strong fleet, adding colour and culture to his five-year-old transport firm. “We’re making logistics sexy,” he says. “But it also reminds people that trucks are necessary and not the bad guys of the highway.”
The move also reflects Colsa’s business outlook: “The art shows workers that their company isn’t a cookie-cutter model; each painting is a symbol of our unique spirit.”
Deck the stalls
Christmas markets are big business – especially in Europe, where most are concentrated. Visitor numbers vary from country to country but Germany’s are by far the biggest.