Hong Kong: The Definitive Shopping Guide
Gorgeous boutiques, street markets and megamalls — there’s something for everyone in the fashion capital of Asia.
Hong Kong’s legendary energy ensures that any visitor leaves with the senses overwhelmed — in the best possible way. This cosmopolis dazzles with breathtaking views of the harbor, mountains and neon cityscape. World-class food tempts at every turn, while the ding-ding bell of 1960s tramcars and constant bustle of humanity add to the endlessly beguiling backdrop.
The city also boasts a global reputation as a fashion and shopping hub, thanks to its vast array of boutiques, markets and glitzy malls celebrating quirky designers as much as the legendary names of haute couture. One thing is certain: You’ll never need to look far for somewhere to splash some cash.
Malls are such an integral part of life in Hong Kong that residents sometimes feel they spend their lives in them. But given the city’s infamous summer humidity and temperatures, there’s a lot to be said for strolling in air-conditioned comfort, surrounded by stores, restaurants, bars and other distractions.
There’s no more convenient starting point than Elements (1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, elementshk.com), 1 million square feet of shopping, dining and entertainment that sits in the development right underneath The Ritz-Carlton. Its name comes from the five elements of traditional Chinese culture that inspire the five zones: wood, fire, water, earth and metal. Metal, for example, is home to more than 50 high fashion brands, including Cartier, Chanel, Gucci, Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Prada.
A few minutes away by car along Canton Road, you’ll find another example of Hong Kong’s enthusiasm for outrageous shopping experiences. 1881 Heritage (2A Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, 1881heritage.com), a converted Victorian-era building that used to house the Marine Police Headquarters, specializes in luxury watches and jewelry.
Take the Star Ferry across the harbor to Hong Kong Island to visit IFC (8 Finance St., Central, ifc.com.hk), the Landmark (15 Queen’s Road Central, landmark.hk) or Pacific Place (88 Queensway, Admiralty, pacificplace.com.hk). At these high-end malls, chances are that if you want it, you’ll find it. Women’s fashion is especially well-represented.
For those seeking more intimate retail experiences, there’s no shortage of stand-alone boutiques and local designers across the city. One of the most celebrated is the Susanna Soo Atelier (17/F, C Wisdom Centre, 37 Hollywood Road, Central, susannasooatelier.com). An alum of both the Parsons School of Design and Diane von Furstenberg, Soo launched her own brand in 2009 and an atelier five years later that showcases her exquisite collection of premium eveningwear.
Another of Hong Kong’s most celebrated designers is Barney Cheng (12/F, Worldwide Commercial Building, 34 Wyndham St., Central, barneycheng.com), who creates stunning haute-couture gowns that promise extravagance and functionality. Everything from his spacious, light-filled store is designed and made in the city, and custom-designed jewelry is another reason Hong Kong’s high society has him on speed dial.
While menswear is available throughout the city’s high-end malls, the gentle incline of Ice House Street in the heart of Central on Hong Kong Island includes Comme des Garçons and Japanese menswear brand Hoods by Shinsuke Takizawa (both at 10 Ice House St., ithk.com). On Lan Street is definitely worth a visit for Christian Louboutin’s (8-10 On Lan St., christianlouboutin.com) shoes for men and New York-based designer Thom Browne’s flagship Hong Kong store (18 On Lan St., thombrowne.com).
The Armoury (307 Pedder Building, 12 Pedder St., thearmoury.com) has become a byword for quality craftsmanship and design in menswear, particularly suiting. Founded in 2010, it’s a must-visit among the city’s gentlemen’s outfitters for timeless styling and discreet luxury.
One fashion destination definitely off the beaten track comes at the humble Lee Kung Man shop (224 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, leekungman.com), where a three-buttoned round-neck cotton undershirt that sells for around $15 is the star. They’ve been in business since 1923. Bruce Lee swore by them, as do a number of hip contemporary Hong Kong designers and local fashionistas.
Hong Kong is also known for its street markets, notably Temple Street Night Market and Ladies Market, where bartering is part of the fun, as are the local colors, sights and sounds. Despite its name, the latter caters to both men and women. The offerings include cheongsams and pajamas — just don’t expect your “pure silk” purchases to necessarily live up to their name.
Other choices for gifts include the local home décor brand Lala Curio (32-33 Sau Wa Fong, Wan Chai, lalacurio.com), which specializes in playful furnishings and objects, notably, beautiful cloisonné tiles. Homeless (29 Gough St., Sheung Wan, homeless.hk) stocks tongue-in-cheek designs on atmospheric Gough Street, which is filled with boutiques and cafés that are well worth your time.
Dining & Drinks
Hong Kong has its share of elegant and design-forward restaurants. Tate Dining Room (210 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, tate.com.hk) is a Michelin-starred restaurant from chef Vicky Tate, a former graphic designer who creates beautiful, delicate and delicious contemporary cuisine in one of the city’s most elegant and calming dining rooms.
Every one of Tate’s plates tells a story, and the same is true at VEA (29/F and 30/F, 198 Wellington St., Central, vea.hk), a Michelin-starred partnership between chef Vicky Cheng and drinks maestro Antonio Lai. At their hugely popular space, diners watch the culinary action from seating that runs the length of the kitchen.
To round off a perfect day of retail therapy, the fashion set still loves to kick back in ultimate style-meets-drinks fusion at Armani/Aqua (Shop 204-205, 2/F, Landmark Chater, Central, landmark.hk/dining/armani-aqua).