With this series, 30 Global Retail Cities, we profile the world’s major shopping cities – from fashion capitals such as Milan to shopping hubs such as Honolulu and Bermuda. We curated the top, most innovative retailers in each city, along with must-see shopping districts, major retail events and innovative store formats.
- Hong Kong is an international city, attracting businesses and residents from around the world
- Retail has traditionally been dominated by a few big companies selling similar products
- More recently, the city has seen more creative, innovative concepts emerge
- Hong Kong-born Goods of Desire (G.O.D.) combines Hong Kong’s modern, fast-paced culture with the city’s older traditions
Introduction to Hong Kong
Hong Kong has been described as the financial hub of Asia, but the city has much more to offer. In 2018, some 59 million people visited Hong Kong, drawn by theme parks, the numerous attractions, nightlife and, of course, shopping.
Hong Kong is an international city, with people from all over the world: More than 300000 of its residents come from other countries. Obtaining residence is not as straightforward as in some countries, but many of this more than quarter of a million foreign residents have been in Hong Kong for many years.
Top Five Shopping Districts
- Central: The central business district (known by locals as “Central”) is where you will find not only some of the most expensive real estate in the city, most of the biggest banking and finance companies, but also many luxury retail stores. Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Gucci, Dior, Chanel and Prada are just some of the brands with locations in Central. The district is also home to huge shopping malls, such as International Finance Center (IFC), the Landmark, the Galleria and Prince’s Building. Queen’s Road, which cuts through the heart of Central, also boasts numerous luxury shops, jewelers and other purveyors of high-end goods. Look for PMQ in the Soho area (for South of Hollywood Road), a cluster of small studios with unique cafes, stores and more, all in a seven-floor building – the perfect place to find unique or limited-edition items.
- Causeway Bay: Causeway Bay is a shopping mecca for locals. From fast-fashion brands to high end, you will find everything in Causeway Bay, and it helps that shops stay open later than usual. Other than clothing, the many shops offer cosmetics, jewelry, toys and electrical products – alongside several outdoor street markets selling all manner of mass goods. Some of the more interesting malls include Sogo, Times Square, World Trade Centre, Lee Gardens, Lee Theatre Plaza and Fashion Island. The street to visit in Causeway Bay is Jardine’s Bazaar.
- Tsim Sha Tsui: The southern tip of Kowloon peninsula is both a favorite destination for tourists and one of the most densely populated places on Earth. Tsim Sha Tsui is replete with luxury goods and fashion outlets thanks to its popularity with tourists – as well as crafts from mainland China. The more interesting malls include Harbour City, K11, New World Centre, The ONE and 1881 Heritage. Nathan Road runs through the center of Kowloon and is where most of the shops are located, but side streets such as Park Lane and Granville Road have many smaller shops selling a variety of goods from low-end to luxury. As in Causeway Bay, Kowloon also has numerous street markets selling everything from clothes to toys and arts and crafts.
- Mong Kok: The multiple small shops, markets and food stalls in Mong Kok make it a perfect place for bargain hunters. Shops (and entire malls) specialize in everything from computer gear and electronics to moderately priced Chinese fashion, accessories and more. If you’re looking for luxury, beware that shops in Mong Kok may not sell the genuine product. Some of the more interesting malls include Langham Place, Argyle Centre and the Mong Kok Computer Centre. Some interesting street markets (with numerous small, funky shops lining both sides of the street) include: Tung Choi Street (commonly referred to as “Ladies’ Street” due to the plethora of women’s products), Temple Street night market and the flower market on Fa Yuen Street (“Fa Yuen” means “park” or “garden” in Cantonese) sells not only flowers and plants, but all manner of decorative items from around the world.
Famous Retail Events
Hong Kong Fashion Week: Hong Kong Fashion Week is organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and showcases pieces from high-end fashion designers to mass merchandise. Hong Kong Fashion Week is held twice a year.
Hong Kong International Fur & Fashion Fair: This event is held in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from February 15-18. It is dedicated to fur skins, fur and leather garments, accessories and more.
Top Innovative Retailers
Goods of Desire (G.O.D.)
G.O.D. is a Hong Kong-based brand, founded in 1996, featuring local products for an international audience. The company’s designs are available in museum shops and other stores around the world. G.O.D. designs combine Hong Kong’s modern, fast-paced culture with the city’s older traditions. The company offers unique products you would not find anywhere else. There are now six G.O.D. stores in Hong Kong and four in Taiwan.
Founders Douglas Young and Benjamin Lau are architects who have designed and transformed residential homes and retail interiors. They saw a lack of well-designed, reasonably-priced interior design products, and G.O.D. was born.
Some of the best sellers include: Hong Kong street signs, a “Vintage Hotels” coaster set, “Hotel de Hong Kong bath mat,” “Letterbox” magnet sets (magnets that feature images of old-fashioned Hong Kong mailboxes, shown above) and many more quirky items. An iconic blue wall with Hong Kong style graffiti next to its main store makes a perfect Instagrammable spot.
Location: Goods of Desire, 48 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong.
Archetypal’s mission is to bring new meaning to design and offer alternative collections. The company supports new creative individuals as well as up and coming global designs. Archetypal seeks to create a one-stop platform for design-led products from around the world. Seeing the local market as saturated with many companies all selling the same products and brands, the company seeks to bring new companies and products to Hong Kong.
Archetypal focuses on contemporary lighting, furniture and home accessories and imports only original designs, preferring to support local talent by giving new, local companies a platform to display products in brick and mortar stores.
Some brands that are imported include Terence Woodgate, lighting from the UK that uses LED technology; and, Decode London, which creates progressive furniture and lighting.
Location: Archetypal Concept Store, G/F, 15 Moon Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong.
Klondlike’s merchandise is an amazing range of handcrafted products made by artisans around the world, a unique mix of vintage and contemporary aesthetics. Klondlike was founded as a platform for Hong Kong locals to find unusual products they cannot find in most shops. Klondike does not sell luxury brands nor the latest trends, but you will find unique, often hand-crafted pieces from around the world.
Location: Klondlike, G/F, 39 Tung Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong.
Homeless is a concept store in Hong Kong established in 2003 and now with 10 outlets. The name comes from the idea that items at the store are waiting for a home.
The store sells unique lifestyle items, predominantly furniture and home accessories, as well as quirky decorative items such as an alarm clock that runs away on wheels if you don’t turn it off and ashtrays that look like mugs. There is a wide variety of over 3,000 products.
The founders, John Wong and Heyman Poon, stated that all their products have a “take me home” quality. The pair take pride in retaining 10-year old designs, saying they differentiate themselves by not following trends. The founders also don’t believe in multifunctional designs: They want one product to meet one essential function.
Location: Homeless, 29 Gough Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong.
Agnès b. RUE DE MARSEILLE
Agnès b. has 29 stores in Hong Kong. The city was home to Agnès b.’s first flagship store, and its second flagship Agnès b. RUE DE MARSEILLE spreads across 17,000 square feet on two floors. The store has a European flare, with a grey and black interior theme and French-style windows. The first floor is dominated by women’s items, upstairs has a vintage furniture aesthetic. The café has teamed up with a local organization that promotes organic food, and doubles as grocery store.
Location: Agnès b. RUE DE MARSEILLE, G26, G28, 117-120, K11 Art Mall, 18 Hanoi Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong.
Chateau Zoobeetle, a concept store founded by three Parisians, offers a new retail experience in Hong Kong. Hong Kong shopping is dominated by malls and luxury brands, but there has been an emergence of independent boutiques. Chateau Zoobeetle, located in Sheung Wan, covers all areas of lifestyle – from fashion and accessories to food and music. The two-floor boutique covers 1,4000 square feet and features a clean, modern interior filled with art, photography and vintage furniture.
The products include ready-to-wear and accessory brands for women and men, gifts, books and children’s wear. The brands in Chateau Zoobeetle are under the radar and labels change from season to season. All three founders have added their own personal touch to the store. Sisters Elsa Lepeu and Johanna El Iman developed an in-house leather goods collection, while partner Junior Parado oversees a music section which covers genres from electro to indie. A bar and café offers drinks and French gourmet treats.
Location: Chateau Zoobeetle, 38 Sai Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong.
The Monocle Shop
The Monocle is a global affairs and lifestyle magazine, it calls itself a mix of smart journalism and international awareness. Monocle created a unique retail channel with stores in Hong Kong, London, Tokyo, Canada, Italy, Switzerland, Los Angeles and Finland, as well as an e-commerce site. The Hong Kong shop is the first of a new hybrid retail/news gathering concept for Monocle. The Monocle Magazine and website were founded by Tyler Brule in 2007, a businessman, publisher, journalist and a great divider of opinion. The store sells a variety of limited-edition collaborations with companies such as Comme des Garçons, Tomorrowland, Valextra and Drakes, as well as Monocle’s own brand.
Location: Monocle, 1-4 St. Francis Yard, Wan Chai, Hong Kong.
Fungus workshop is a leather bag and accessories workshop, a mix of a leather goods designer brand called Hoiming and a lifestyle creative brand called Cowrice. Hoiming was founded in 2006 and is a high-end designer of leather handbags and accessories, available at Harvey Nichol’s, Design Gallery and other fashion stores. Hoiming avoids following the rules and marries traditional with innovative. Cowrice was founded in 2003 and in 2009 published its first book, combining photography, words, illustrations and hand-made creations. The works are inspired by small moments in life that generally go unnoticed.
Location: Fungus Workshop, 1 Leung I Fong, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong.
Good Vibes Only
Located in a repurposed warehouse in what was once an industrial district, Kwun Tong, the Good Vibes store offers underground, unique brands from Hong Kong and mainland China – best described as streetwear, underground fashion. Brands include Cashmerepullower, Nueden, Approved and ACU. The company was founded in 2017. The store also serves as a platform for companies and individuals to display creative work, as well as a showroom for Raw Emotions, which the store owner launched at the beginning of 2017. Throughout the store there are street culture items collected by the store owner, plus art exhibits and installations.
Location: Good Vibes Only, United G, 10/F, Wang Kwong Industrial Building, 45 Hung To Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
Hong Fook Tong
Hung Fook Tong is one of the top retailers of Chinese herbal products in Hong Kong – which are wildly popular with locals. Hung Fook Tong started in 1986 as a traditional herbal tea shop but has since expanded to include 100 shops and evolved into a modern wellness concept food and beverage brand. Hung Fook Tong also recently launched HUNG+ kiosks that use artificial intelligence, leveraging a combination of visual recognition technology and artificial intelligence to curate what consumers want based on existing data, and then offers food and drink options based on consumer preferences. The kiosks are essentially giant “smart” vending machines connected to the Internet. The kiosks capture an image of the customer’s face and uses existing data to build a customer profile. Hong Fook Tong currently operates 10 HUNG+ kiosks around Hong Kong.
Location: Hung Fook Tong, Shop No. HOK 58, Hong Kong Station, near Exit A.
Aberdeen street is the border between Sheung Wan and Central. Home to multiple trendy stores, bars and restaurants, it has been dubbed “NoHo.” There are small boutiques and a unique shopping mall – a hidden gem.
- PMQ: This used to be the Police Married Quarters (an apartment building), hence the name, but has been converted into shops that are generally startups, producing unique goods. PMQ also has restaurants such as the Aberdeen Street Social and SOHOFAMA. It is one of the most unique “malls” in Hong Kong.
- MODEMONT: A store for modern workwear, with a very minimalistic design.
- Bohemian Artistic: Bohemian and vintage pieces, unique items you wouldn’t generally find in Hong Kong.
- BANG! BANG! 70’s: This store is dedicated to vintage clothing and accessories, items from the 1950’s and more. A unique addition to Hong Kong’s shopping scene as vintage stores are few in the city.
- ABoutique: Bringing a selection of hidden contemporary brands together while targeting reasonable price points.