The Monocle Hong Kong 50 - The Escapist 2024 - Magazine | Monocle
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1.
For a room with a view

Jimi Chiu, photographer

As a new Hong Kong emerges, one thing hasn’t changed: seeing the situation on the ground is the surest way to get a read on the place.

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Restorative ocean views

With that in mind, we asked two regular Monocle photographers to document a typical Monday morning in Hong Kong from two very different perspectives, just a 15-minute drive apart.

Jimi Chiu captured the restorative ocean views on the south side of Hong Kong Island, which is separated from Central by a mountain range. As families finish breakfast at The Fullerton Ocean Park, a new resort-style hotel, yachts and outrigger canoes head out to sea from nearby Aberdeen harbour, while several cargo ships sail across the horizon. It is a calming setting that’s at odds with the idea of Hong Kong’s urban hustle, which demands to be experienced first-hand.

2.

For some urban energy

Lit Ma, Photographer

On the opposite side of the mountain range to Jimi Chiu, and a world away in terms of subject matter, Lit Ma was busy shooting the street life in Central. 
The return of hustle and bustle (and packed-out coffee shops) to the central business district, home of Hong Kong’s finance industry, offers an alternative measure of the city’s economic outlook to the daily swings on the stock exchange. Watch the commuters crowding Central’s streets and the message is clear: Hong Kong is back.

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Monday morning in Central

live like a local


For a primer on Hong Kong’s unique quality of life, tick off these local experiences: a mixture of singing, seafood, swimming and night hikes up craggy hilltops. Plus: a few exciting developments on the horizon.

3.

Get hooked on great seafood

Lamma Island

Laid-back Lamma Island is a seafood destination easily reached by ferry. The recent opening of Mediterranean restaurant Terracotta by the team behind the bars Shady Acres and Quality Goods Club in Central has elevated the dining options in Yung Shue Wan, Lamma Island’s main village and ferry pier.

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Lamma Island’s Terracotta restaurant

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Dishy delights at Terracotta

4.

Reach the peak

Tung Lung Chau

The cliffs on Tung Lung Chau, a largely uninhabited island, are a favourite weekend gathering spot for the city’s rock-climbing community. Mount Parker on Hong Kong Island and Lantau Island’s Temple Crag are two others. 

5.

Peer behind the velvet curtain

Members’ clubs

Private clubs are very Hong Kong and there is a members-only establishment to suit most tastes. The Ilse Crawford-designed Carlyle & Co is the gold standard for a new generation of venues. Accessed through Rosewood Hong Kong’s hotel lobby, evenings at jazz bar Café Carlyle hit all the right notes (and there’s a room next door for late-night karaoke).

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Carlyle & Co

6.

Rise above it all

Hong Kong Island hiking trails

Night hiking is a popular midweek exercise that packs in cool temperatures and even cooler views of the illuminated city below. A headlamp and some sturdy footwear will meet the demands of most of the trails on Hong Kong Island. Running into the odd wild boar is the only real hazard to watch out for. 

7.

Eat with family

Spring Moon

Hong Kong weekends usually involve at least one multi-generational family meal at a hotel restaurant. Spring Moon, a Cantonese dining room at The Peninsula, Hong Kong’s oldest luxury hotel, is perhaps the most in demand, so reserve early. 

8.

Put your best foot forward

Studio 9

Hong Kong’s real movers and shakers are found on the dance floor, not in the boardroom. Sheung Wan’s Studio 9 is a second home for an impressive roster of professional ballroom dancers, who teach Latin styles and American smooth moves to enthusiastic amateurs. 

9.

Ride together

Hire a Toyota Alphard

Public transport in Hong Kong is better in than most cities. However, nothing beats hiring a Toyota Alphard for comfort. The seven-seater people carrier is a familiar sight on the city’s streets and something of a status symbol.

10.

Pool your ideas

Kennedy Town

A harbourside neighbourhood on the western edge of Hong Kong Island, Kennedy Town rivals expat-favourite Mid-Levels as the preferred landing spot for new arrivals. Only four MTR stops from Central, it has an independent cinema and world-class swimming pool. 

11.

Slow your pace

Chai Wan

At the opposite end of Hong Kong Island to Kennedy Town, underground trains emerge at Chai Wan to palm trees, sunshine and a slower pace of life. Coffee roaster Zero to One has taken over the kiosk in Chai Wan Park. Cup in hand, stroll to clothing shop Undercover and explore Chai Wan’s industrial buildings, full of artists’ studios, craft breweries and gin distilleries. 

12.

Stop on the way

Sai Kung

The gateway to Hong Kong’s most beautiful beaches, Sai Kung is usually part of an extended journey as hikes, camping trips and beach days at Ham Tin or Long Ke Wan begin and end here. Be sure to visit Little Cove Espresso and fragrance brand BeCandle. 

13.

Start warming up 

Kai Tak Sports Park

A 50,000-seater stadium is set to open in 2024 at the heart of Kai Tak Sports Park. Already earmarked to host the annual rugby sevens tournament, Hong Kong’s largest outdoor arena will have the capacity to host global sporting events.

14.

Set the stage

Lyric Theatre Complex

Lyric Theatre Complex will be the next big arts venue to open in West Kowloon Cultural District, joining Hong Kong Palace Museum and M1. Designed by UNStudio, it will become the home of the Hong Kong Ballet and other troupes.

15.
See the future 

‘Site 3’

Work has begun on “Site 3”, a long-vacant plot on the Central harbourfront. By the end of the decade, Henderson Land’s as yet unnamed “horizontal skyscraper”, Hong Kong’s most expensive commercial project, will have transformed the landscape. The city’s ambitions are rising unabated.


Hospitality


Hong Kong’s legendary hotels keep the city ticking over with new concepts and fresh talent for the overnight crowd. Here, exciting young chefs and bar folk come from all over the world to join a famous establishment – and others are striking out on their own too.

16.

Cheer a return 

Regent Hong Kong

If any proof were required about the popularity of the Kowloon waterfront, it arrived in 2023 with the return of the Regent Hong Kong following a multi-year, $1.2bn (€1.11bn) renovation. The five-star, 497-room hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui opened in 1980 and, for 20 years, it represented the east-meets-west glamour of Asia’s most international city. The Regent Hong Kong reopens in a glittery neighbourhood that boasts two global flagships: The Rosewood and The Peninsula. Chi Wing Lo led the Regent Hong Kong’s extensive redesign. The debut hotel project from the 68-year-old architect and designer, Lo has kept the spirit of the hotel’s storied past alive without being afraid to start anew. The grand lobby is more understated than before but the floor-to-ceiling windows still offer great views of Victoria Harbour. 

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The Peninsula
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Regent Hong Kong
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Chi Wing Lo's interiors
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Overlooking K11 Musea

17.

Join the bustle on the promenade

Greg Liddell, general manager, Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong

Australian hospitality veteran Greg Liddell joined Mandarin Oriental in May 2023. His second posting in Hong Kong came on the eve of the flagship hotel’s 60th anniversary. 

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Greg Liddell

How has the city changed since you were last here?
The waterfront promenade has brought the harbourside to life. It’s in front of our hotel so if I don’t have the time to go on a hiking trail, I pop out for a run along the promenade. 

What trends have you been noticing?
More multi-generational travel. Guests are travelling with extended family and hotels are having to adapt.

A tip for first-time visitors?
Leave some time to explore the natural elements of Hong Kong. Get onto the harbour or go out on the hiking trails.

18.

Experience real Cantonese food 

The Chairman

Widely considered to be the best restaurant in Hong Kong, The Chairman has become a go-to thanks to chef-restaurateur Danny Yip’s knack for world-beating Cantonese cuisine. Tables at its new address inside The Wellington building are booked months in advance. It’s no surprise: this is the place to eat for anyone who wants to understand the inimitable charms of Cantonese cooking.

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The Chairman
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Atmospheric interiors

19.

Stay in an updated classic 

Island Shangri-La

When it comes to hospitality, Hong Kong, a city of only 7.5 million people that’s home to a handful of the world’s top hotel groups, has an embarrassment of riches. Though these luxury hotels largely catered to domestic guests at the height of coronavirus-related restrictions, most if not all of these brands spent that time sprucing up their flagship properties ahead of the return of international travel. 

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Lobster Bar & Grill at Island Shangri-La
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Yun Wellness
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Signature cocktails

French designer Tristan Auer spearheaded the latest renovation of Island Shangri-La, which originally opened in 1991 as part of the Pacific Place development in Admiralty. Auer’s suites provide a refreshed take on the hotel’s signature Asian-inspired opulence and come with a fully-stocked bar, including ready-made cocktails from the hotel’s much-loved Lobster Bar & Grill – a Monocle favourite. 
After a fun night of live music in this classic hotel bar, the newly opened Yun Wellness spa by Spanish designer Lázaro Rosa-Violán and revamped swimming pool provide somewhere to splash out. 

20.

Get a taste of Italy, with a twist 

Bar Leone

Sheung Wan’s Bar Leone pays homage to Rome, the hometown of founder Lorenzo Antinori, from its sandy pink exterior and red marble bar top to the vintage Campari ads and film posters that adorn the wood-panelled walls. “There is a sense of nostalgia,” says Antinori, a former beverage manager at Hong Kong’s Four Seasons hotel. His yuzu negronis and olive-oil sours are a twist on the classics.

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Lorenzo Antinori
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Bar Leone

21.

Find the right angle 

Cornerstone

Casual bistro Cornerstone is a 24-seat restaurant from award-winning Australian chef Shane Osborn’s Arcane Collective on one of Soho’s busiest intersections. Standout dishes on head chef Neal G Ledesma’s menu include char siu glazed octopus and braised wagyu cheek with pilaf rice and a soy citrus jus. Tomatoes, strawberries and leafy greens are among the ingredients sourced from farms in Hong Kong.

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Cornerstone

22.

Raise a glass from the past 

The Green Door

Taking its cues from 1920s New York, the menu at Green Door in Central offers Prohibition-era staples such as manhattans and gin martinis. Founders Arlene Wong and Dabi Chin want their new speakeasy- style bar to be a place where discerning people can walk through the hidden door and ask for a boulevardier with no trouble. “It’s hard to find a good classic bar in Hong Kong,” says Wong. 

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The Green Door

23.

Leave the sweet tooth behind 

Savoury Project

Months of research go into every item on the Savoury Project’s small drinks menu. As the name suggests, savoury flavours take centre stage, from warm spice in a cumin and mezcal mix to nuttiness and tang in a teriyaki-inspired cocktail. Why the focus on such flavours? Founders Ajit Gurung and Jay Khan – the duo behind renowned bar Coa – prefer savoury to sweet. “When you open a bar, you want to open something you truly believe in,” says Gurung. 

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Ajit Gurung
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Savoury Project

24.

Bond over food 

Racines

The founders of Racines, an intimate 14-seat restaurant on Upper Station Street in Sheung Wan, met 15 years ago while working at the same restaurant in the French Riviera. Romain Dupeyre and Adrien Castillo kept crossing paths until they both ended up in Hong Kong, working in two of the city’s most established spots for French haute cuisine.

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Romain Dupeyre (on left) and Adrien Castillo
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Racan pigeon at Racines

Determined to run their own kitchen, they opened Racines in 2022, serving a tasting menu for lunch and dinner. Basque river trout with cauliflower and almonds is among the dishes inspired by the chefs’ home regions: Dupeyre hails from Nice and Castillo from Toulouse. The Racan pigeon, flown from the Loire, with figs, celeriac and lavender, brings back childhood memories for the founders. An open kitchen lets the convivial duo chat with their patrons. “It’s our living room, basically,” says Dupeyre. “We’re just here talking with the diners at the counter, at the tables, everything is really close. If you sit there, we’ll talk to you.”

25.

Live the high life

Cardinal Point

Rooftop bar Cardinal Point is perched on the 45th floor of The Landmark, a mall and office tower in Central. The Sean Dix-designed interior and terrace opened in March 2023 as part of a drinking and dining destination Forty-Five, which includes teppanyaki Kaew, members’ bar Gloucester Arts Club, Shanghainese dining room Merchants, and Cristal Room by Anne-Sophie Pic, a collaboration between the chef and fine crystal manufacturer Baccarat.

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Cardinal Point
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Gerald Li

“With Forty-Five fully open, we are doubling our revenue,” says Gerald Li, co-founder of Hong Kong hospitality group Leading Nation. Li and business partner Kevin Poon are known for turning Hisato Hamada’s Wagyumafia into a global brand. Li oversees 30 outlets and more than 200 staff across Asia. “We have always focused on serving good food, at a good price point and good service,” he says.

26.

Begin the voyage 

Cathay Pacific ferry lounge

Southern China’s Greater Bay Area (gba) is home to about 86 million people and megacities such as Guangzhou and Shenzhen. With Hong Kong International Airport (hkia) easily accessible by car, train or boat, travellers from the area represent a huge growth opportunity for Hong Kong’s largest airline, Cathay Pacific. “The GBA is our extended home market,” says Vivian Lo, Cathay Pacific’s general manager of customer service and design. And it can now better serve these passengers with its first ferry lounge at Shenzhen’s Shekou port, a 30-minute boat ride from HKIA. Cathay calls its new Shenzhen berth a prelude to its full airport lounge experience at HKIA.

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Cathay Pacific’s Shenzhen ferry lounge

The design language follows the same template but the menu serves smaller bites in anticipation of shorter stays. The view of the sea is another notable difference: on a clear day, you can see Hong Kong.

27.

Read the leaves 

Plantation Tea Bar

Tea dilettantes and devotees will feel equally at home at Plantation Tea Bar, a modern tea house in Sheung Wan. “I love the idea of tea being a centrepoint to get people together,” says founder Nana Chan, who travels to plantations to find new teas and forge relationships with farmers. 

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Plantation Tea Bar’s Nana Chan
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Tasting experiences at Plantation Tea Bar

An all-day menu offers tasting experiences alongside seriously fun tea cocktails created for Plantation by Hong Kong barman Antonio Lai. “I constantly have ideas about how tea could be served or presented,” says Chan.

28.
Spice up your life

Bengal Brothers

Bengal Brothers’ signature kathi rolls (a popular street food from Kolkata) are a lunchtime favourite. Tanvir Bhasin and Vidur Yadav, both originally from India, upgraded the colourful Wan Chai restaurant in 2023, adding dinner service, cocktails and new dishes inspired by the Parsi cafes of Mumbai and the toddy stalls of Kerala. “Every city in India has its own version of a cafe, and we want to represent what they stand for,” says Yadav.

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Tanvir Bhasin (on left) and Vidur Yadav

retail

Malls dominate the retail landscape in Hong Kong, which continues to be a shop window for international brands entering Asia from the West and vice versa. Fierce competition is bringing the best out of the big players and providing room for passionate independent retailers. 

29.

Rise to the top 

Airside

Airside is Hong Kong’s latest retail, dining and surfing destination (there’s a large indoor simulator inside). The mixed-use, Snøhetta-designed shopping mall and office tower – the first in the city by the Norwegian architecture firm – has the added distinction of being the first major development to open in Kai Tak, an area in east Kowloon famously home to the city’s original international airport. 
Kai Tak is undergoing a huge rejuvenation and Airside’s rooftop garden offers a good perspective on this ambitious project. “The building creates a meaningful, inviting and vibrant public realm for the thousands of people who will pass through it each day while bringing a new icon to the skyline and a focal point for the district,” says Robert Greenwood, director of Asia Pacific at Snøhetta.

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Airside

30.

Revisit a temple of womenswear 

Joyce

When Blondie Tsang took over the helm of The Lane Crawford Joyce Group, a mainstay of Hong Kong retail, one of most pressing tasks in her in-tray was the position of Joyce – a pioneering temple of style and luxury for several generations of women that had lost its way in recent years.

As part of Tsang’s strategy for relaunching the luxury fashion boutique, she took the bold decision to close the street-facing flagship on Queen’s Road Central, which was famous for its lavish window displays, and relocate it to an open plan, 90 sq m shop inside Pacific Place.

Designed by Jaycee Chui and Justin Bridgland, the founders of mdo, the smaller, more intimate shop has refocused the edit on the exquisite and exclusive. “Joyce doesn’t need everything that a brand offers,” says Tsang. “We just need the best. That’s what our customers expect.” 

31.

Search for top brands 

Hide and Seek

When Hide and Seek opened in 2012, the menswear shop stocked Taiwanese and US brands, not the under-the-radar Japanese labels it carries today. “It was difficult to deal with the Japanese brands back then because they didn’t reply to emails,” says Hide and Seek’s Japanophile founder, Tiff Lam, who studied and worked in construction and graphic design before finding a home in fashion retail. Fussa-based accessories brand Northworks was one of the few to reply and remains a core brand to this day. Everything changed when Lam’s wife, Jenny, came back from her language studies in Tokyo and helped her partner translate his English emails into Japanese.

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Hide and Seek
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Hide and Seek’s Tiff Lam
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Find new layers

Hide and Seek went on to develop an international market for Still by Hand, which shares rack space with fellow Tokyo labels Meanswhile and Markaware. “Trust is most important when dealing with Japanese clients,” says Lam from his flagship in Causeway Bay; a second shop opened at the K11 Art Mall in Tsim Sha Tsui in 2023. Lam visits Japan every year to discover new labels but Hong Kong is the global shop window.

32.

Hit the books

Eslite

Eslite’s new bookshop inside Hong Kong Station – one of the city’s busiest public transport hubs – has a warm, alluring glow. The small, grab-and-go shop represents a new direction for the Taiwanese chain, which is best known for its three-storey flagship in Causeway Bay’s Hysan Place. The past three years have seen Eslite open a flurry of these convenient “community” bookshops throughout Hong Kong, from Tai Wai and Tuen Mun in the New Territories all the way to Tung Chung on Lantau Island. “Hong Kong’s books business is really thriving,” says Eslite’s ceo, Mercy Wu. 

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Eslite

33.

Prepare for subtropical heat 

Salvo

Salvo’s colourful boutique in Wan Chai’s Starstreet Precinct is an ideal destination for any man who has packed for a business trip to Hong Kong only to realise soon after landing that the subtropical city is flanked by beautiful beaches and invites plenty of boat trips. The staple brands stocked here range from Brava and Corridor to Alex Crane and Fields – Salvo is the first and only stockist of the latter outside the South African label’s Cape Town home.

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Salvo
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Hamish Peddie
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Salvo’s fun and unpretentious menswear

A sunny selection of bold prints, tropical shirts and casual trousers began as the personal preferences of Salvo’s Scottish founder Hamish Peddie, who quit his career in management consulting and ventured into retail in 2021. Salvo’s edit has since evolved into anything that makes Peddie’s customers look good – provided it’s fun and not pretentious. The gregarious 33-year-old is a regular behind the counter and entered the retail trade with a taxi driver’s appreciation for talking to customers. “I wanted to do a traditional job and I’m a big consumer,” says Peddie, who admits to learning about fashion’s buying cycles on the job. “If I’m going to do my own business, I want to be interested in it.”

34.

Take a stroll through heritage

Pedder Arcade

Hong Kong’s well-dressed men have a new destination. Pedder Arcade opened in October 2023, taking over the fifth floor of the Pedder Building, a rare 1920s commercial building in Central, which is undergoing a makeover after an exodus of tenants in recent years. The anchor tenant is The Armoury, Hong Kong’s foremost menswear shop, whose founder, Mark Cho, was the driving force behind Pedder Arcade. “We have five units so I made a bunch of pop-ups,” says Cho. “Atelier Pedder is a cloth showroom; we have the watch auction house Phillips; Drumhor and Nigel Cabourn are here; and finally there’s a bar called JK and a cigar lounge concept called The Armoury Study.”

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Mark Cho
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Pedder Arcade
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The Armoury
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The Armoury’s umbrella selection
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Shirts at The Armoury

The idea for Pedder Arcade came during the coronavirus pandemic when the lease was up on The Armoury’s original third-floor shop. “Rather than leaving this building, we decided to set our sights higher and create something more interesting that we have more control of,” says Cho, who spent six months convincing the landlord to demolish the existing floor space, combine seven units into five, and pick up the tab.

Cho was born and raised in the UK and his fondness for British shopping arcades inspired him to bring the concept to Hong Kong. “I wanted to recreate that feeling of openness and airiness, somewhere with a little bit of a boulevard feel,” he says. “This is a place for people who are looking for a bit of tranquillity, a bit of a sanctuary, a slower pace. In intense cities like Hong Kong, true luxury is having somewhere that’s quiet and calm and engaging.”

Pedder Arcade has given the Pedder Building a new lease of life. And with The Fine Wine Experience (entry 36) set to open a new street-facing concept in 2024, one of Hong Kong’s most charming heritage buildings can look forward to a rosy future.

35.

Strap yourself in 

Topologie

Topologie first launched in 2018 with a range of backpacks and crossbody bags inspired by rock-climbing – a childhood passion of the Hong Kong-based brand’s French founder, Carlos Granon. These days, however, it is more accurate to say that Topologie sells rope. “We decided to celebrate the strap,” says Granon, who took the decision in 2021 to create bags and phone cases with detachable and interchangeable straps.

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Topologie
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Phone straps 
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Phone sleeves

This strategic turning point, which transformed the company’s fortunes, came from observing a customer at Topologie’s first shop in Langham Place, a shopping mall in Hong Kong’s bustling Mong Kok district, who bought seven different phone cases with fixed cords: one for each day of the week. The philosophy of the company promptly switched to selling unfinished products. “Every customer should be very active,” says Granon, who always makes time to go climbing in Hong Kong.

Topologie currently sells 120 different strap designs, which account for half of the company’s us$22m (€20.4m) annual revenue. Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong have been the biggest markets to date but the ambitious Asian brand is heading to Europe. A Paris shop opened in October 2023; London is due to follow in early 2024, ahead of a huge year for new product launches under the guise of British art director, Lawrence Midwood, formerly of Y-3. Topologie’s debut pet collection is almost certain to sell out (think matching phone straps and leashes). Then in June, French ready-to-wear label APC. will launch a capsule collection with Topologie. Should it prove successful, an apparel line will follow with all manner of detachable elements and combinations. “Our ambition is to enter the fashion world,” says Granon. 

36.

Take notes

The Fine Wine Experience

When Linden Wilkie and Michael Wu relocated The Fine Wine Experience from London to Hong Kong in 2013, they were selling bottles out of a tiny office and scrambling to fill online orders. A decade later, staff at the company’s Sai Ying Pun wine shop offer masterclasses and tastings to guide customers through a globe-trotting catalogue of 4,000 different wines.

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The Fine Wine Experience

The shop also has its own restaurant, Bâtard, owned by restaurateur Randy See, with a small menu of French classics designed to highlight the wines they’re paired with. “Hong Kong is probably the freest market for wine in the world, so anyone can get started,” says Wilkie, referencing the city’s decision to abolish import taxes and duties on wine. A private members’ club is up next. The Fine Wine Experience plans to take over the first three floors of the historic Pedder Building in Central by the end of 2024 – a fine pairing for one of the city’s most storied shopfronts. 

37.

Don’t move

Still House

This ready-to-wear fashion brand designs and produces its range from a factory in Tsuen Wan, a former textile hub in the New Territories. “Making quality garments in Hong Kong is part of our philosophy,” says Still House founder Miu Chan, whose career began in hospitality. 

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Still House’s Miu Chan (on right) with partner Liz Yuen and Dolce

Chan favours relaxed cuts, understated detailing and muted palettes of lightweight cotton fabrics. The 41-year-old runs the label with his partner. The couple recently added a line of womenswear and collaborations include an umbrella with the century-old Leung So Kee factory and Henley-style shirts with Lee Kung Man, one of Bruce Lee’s favourite outfitters. Established in 2015, Still House relocated in 2023 to a quieter perch on Pak Sha Road, a popular shopping street that is buzzing again. 

38.

Find a space

Belowground

Designed by London’s Brinkworth, Belowground opened in 2020, taking over a corner of the menswear basement at Landmark, one of Central’s main luxury shopping malls. Now, when international fashion brands want to test the Hong Kong market without committing to a physical space, they drop a note to Belowground’s Ryan Kwok and hope for a favourable reply from the man in charge of operating this pop-up space for owner Hongkong Land. “Brands get access to prime Hong Kong real estate and the Landmark’s incredible customer database,” says Kwok, who fields enquiries from all over the world. Belowground’s success will see the concept, which Kwok describes as a retail brand, expand its existing footprint and spread to Hongkong Land’s shopping malls in Beijing and Shanghai.

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Belowground

39.

Join a block party

Years

On weekends, the pavement outside Years in Sham Shui Po becomes a gathering spot for music fans, as a guest DJ takes to the decks at the front of the shop to play everything from Afrobeat, hip-hop and reggae to 1980s Japanese city pop. The scene shows the convening power of physical retail and the programming efforts that go into building a genuine community.

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Years
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Palo santo bundles at Years

Years is run by husband-and-wife team Kay Kwan and Kit Ho, who quit their teaching and government jobs a few years ago to go into business together. The couple’s first venture was a plant-based restaurant. After their diners kept asking about the branded staff uniforms, they opened a retail arm in 2021 in a former textile shop on the same street. Years stocks Hong Kong fashion brands Matter Matters, Isla Athletic and Go Off, alongside its own label and a selection of books, records and pantry essentials.


Industry leaders


Hong Kong still attracts international talent. We assembled a group of ambitious, adventurous and unwaveringly optimistic individuals, each a leader in their respective field, to ask why Hong Kong still works.

40.

Embrace a diverse culture 

Angelle Siyang-Le, director, Art Basel Hong Kong

“When you come to Hong Kong, you don’t necessarily feel like a foreigner. You see different nationalities and hear different languages. One of the reasons why I choose to stay is that I want to raise children in such a cultural city.”

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Angelle Siyang-Le

41.

Get a creative lift 

Jonathan Frolich, managing director, Carlyle & Co

“Hong Kong has always been a financial hub but there’s far more than finance here. Over the past five or six years, I’ve really noticed an incredible lift in the city’s arts and culture.”

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Jonathan Frolich

42.

Live life more efficiently 

Aron Harilela, chairman and CEO, Harilela Group

“Hong Kong has had three big issues in the past four years: the social unrest, the coronavirus pandemic and the National Security Law. Those of us who live in Hong Kong understand that the city is coming back. It’s bouncing, it’s not dangerous; we’re not going to walk down the street and be captured by some Chinese agent. But we don’t translate that message well when we go abroad and that has always been our tendency. I remember going on a delegation to Washington, just before the British handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, when we said everything’s fine. But that was one of the biggest political shifts known in all of history: a big communist country, which had only adopted capitalism for a few decades, taking over one of the last colonies. Of course, there were going to be roadblocks and issues along the way. We cannot be that vague. Younger expats are already coming back to Hong Kong but not yet those with young families. We need to be much more open with the information and convince them that, should another pandemic happen, we’re not going to use the same blunt approach again and close our borders for three years. Ultimately, it’s the efficiency of Hong Kong that’s absolutely paramount to the ease of life and the quality of experience that people have here. In Europe, you’ll do one thing a day. If I were living in London and I wanted to play a game of tennis, go to the gym or meet a friend for a coffee, that’s the one thing I would do beside my work. In Hong Kong, I could do all of those things. That’s just an amazing thing about this city.”

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Aron Harilela

43.

Stay connected to the world 

Tom Andrews, head of leasing and operations, Henderson Land Development

“I’ve never lived anywhere with the same vibrancy as Hong Kong. Geographically it’s the most incredible place; we are connected to the world and we still have all the fundamentals that everyone wants. It is a city that evolves and the next evolution is going to be extremely exciting.”

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Tom Andrews

44.

Enjoy a better quality of life 

Kristina Snaith-Lense, general manager, The Upper House

“Hong Kong’s location in Asia is unbeatable. The city is safe, we have world-class public transportation, a very good education system and access to top-notch healthcare, both public and private, which ensures a high quality of life.”

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Kristina Snaith-Lense

Arts & Culture


Hong Kong’s arts and culture scene has been transformed in the 21st century – and not just by the arrival of huge museums and global art fairs. Edgy independent galleries proliferate while young filmmakers tackle social issues and inequalities on screen. 

45.

Watch the city on screen

Silke Schmickl, Chanel lead curator of moving image, M1 museum

Germany-born Silke Schmickl oversees various screens inside M1, from traditional cinemas to individual booths, as well as the building’s LED-laden façade – a 65-metre tall “television” for Hong Kong Island.

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Silke Schmickl, M+

What brought you to Hong Kong?
M1. Before that I was a curator at the National Gallery Singapore.

What’s your mandate?
To develop content rooted in Hong Kong and the rest of Asia for a global audience. What’s special about M1 is that we’re not limited to one particular space or medium. 

Forthcoming highlights in 2024?
Great Chinese cinema that responds to the Madame Song fashion exhibition. Then in spring we will have our first avant garde film festival, featuring historical artist films from the 1960s to the 1990s. 

How would you describe the film archive?
Mediatheque is top drawer. We have more than 250 films on demand. Visitors get to curate what they want to look at, which is a very important role for modern museums. 

How far does censorship creep into what you do?
So far, so good. It’s very rare that we get rejected. I’ve worked a lot in the Middle East and Singapore and we always had to go through the same procedure. 

And finally, a favourite Hong Kong film?
Mabel Cheung’s An Autumn’s Tale. A young woman goes to New York. I can somehow identify with this movie.

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M+ Cinema
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A visitor watches films at M1’s Mediatheque

46.

Explore the art world gateway

Phillips

Among the international auction houses investing in larger spaces in Hong Kong, Phillips enjoyed a first-mover advantage. A plum address in the West Kowloon Cultural District, directly opposite M1 museum, provides room to host exhibitions and sales throughout the year, rather than the usual practice of renting out hotel ballrooms twice a year. “We’re lucky enough to have the largest premises of any auction house in Asia with our newly opened headquarters here,” says Phillips’s Asia chairman, Jonathan Crockett, as he takes a seat on the new office floor for the first time. Crockett joined Phillips in 2016 when the auction house held its first sale in Hong Kong. Since that time, Phillips’s Asia business has grown exponentially and now accounts for a third of the auction house’s global activity. “Without question Hong Kong is the most important central hub in Asia for the trade in art and luxury goods,” he says. “That’s why all the big auction houses are here, that’s why all the big international galleries have set up their businesses here, and that’s why Art Basel is here. Hong Kong is the gateway to China and I don’t see that changing.” 

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Jonathan Crockett, Phillips
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Phillips

47.

Connect with art 

Kiang Malingue

Contemporary art gallery Kiang Malingue had already established itself as a key player in the Hong Kong art scene when it opened a second outpost in Wan Chai in 2022. For the new space on Sik On Street, Hong Kong-based Beau Architects transformed a six-storey building into a striking four-floor gallery. The aim of the design was to provide “a more domestic setting, inviting people to spend time with the art but also with the owners,” says Edouard Malingue, who co-founded the gallery with his wife, Lorraine Kiang.

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Edouard Malingue (on left) and Lorraine Kiang
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Kiang Malingue

48.

Hear from authentic voices

PHD Group

Ysabelle Cheung and Willem Molesworth launched the Property Holdings Development (PHD) Group art gallery in 2022 with a clear vision of what they wanted to bring to Hong Kong’s art world. “The scene was missing an authentic voice,” says Molesworth. “Hong Kong is a very multicultural city. People love Korean culture, Japanese culture,Taiwanese culture; obviously mainland China is a huge influence and we want to reflect that.” The name of the gallery, an early indication of the duo’s off-kilter approach, is a tongue-in-cheek reference to Hong Kong’s innumerable, generically named real-estate companies. Even the choice of location in Causeway Bay, a busy district known for shopping rather than culture, sets PHD Group apart. Viewings are by appointment only because Cheung and Molesworth like to be on hand. “We have the opportunity to really engage, whether it’s a collector, curator or general visitor who wants to know more about the exhibition,” says Cheung. “We find the engagement to be a lot more meaningful. It’s about really telling the story.”

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PHD Group Gallery
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Willem Molesworth (on left) and Ysabelle Cheung

49.

Raise the roof

WKM Gallery

William Kayne Mukai deliberated longer over naming his first gallery than he did his two children. The 37-year-old Japanese-French gallerist eventually landed on his initials and WKM Gallery staged its inaugural exhibition in November: a group show presenting 12 Japanese artists. Mukai moved to Hong Kong from Tokyo in 2015. After working at two international galleries, he has been planning his own venue since 2020. WKM Gallery occupies the 20th floor of an industrial building in Wong Chuk Hang on the south side of Hong Kong Island. “There are about 20 galleries here now and that does not include artists’ studios,” says Mukai. “There are also a lot of good furniture and design shops so it feels like a creative hub of Hong Kong.” Japanese architect Koichi Futatsumata worked closely with Mukai to select the right space. Futatsumata’s design makes good use of the building’s high ceilings and scenic views of mountains and the sea. “We wanted to keep the features of the industrial building while bringing in some of those minimalist Japanese design elements,” says Mukai. Japan will feature strongly in WKM Gallery’s initial exhibitions but other international artists will also feature, starting with Taiwan and the US. “It’s important to be part of the global art scene,” he adds.

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WKM Gallery's William Kayne Mukai

50.

Keep the music playing

Melody

Though the closure of Potato Head’s Sai Ying Pun bar and restaurant was a bum note for Hong Kong, audiophiles will have cheered the continuation of its one-of-a-kind music room by the building’s new tenants. The sign above the front door now says Melody, a modern European restaurant by head chef Jamie Draper. However, Johnny Hiller is still in charge of the music at the back of the Third Street address, lending his encyclopaedic musical knowledge and extensive vinyl collection to visiting DJs and a tuned-in audience.


While in Hong Kong, don’t forget to stock up on print publications, brand collaborations and more at The Monocle Shop at 1-4 St Francis Yard in Wan Chai or airside at Hong Kong International Airport’s Terminal 1.
monocle.com

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