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Dysemevas: Hong Kong’s First Pop-Up Shop

For a month a fashion pop-up concept store featuring Chinese designers. the first of its kind, will be open to the public in Hong Kong.

There’s been an encouraging build up of open dialogue between the design talent coming from modern China and a wider international audience, ever since the China Design Now exhibition at the V&A. Now, Hong Kong, the gateway to China has been chosen as the place to host a pop-up shop that aims to showcase young Chinese designers in a way that has not been attempted before. Dee Poon, ex-buyer, editor at large for Chinese fashion magazine iLook and Time set about organising the pop-up venture dysemevas and selecting the designers to take part.

“While there have been exhibitions of Chinese fashion outside of China and HK before, this is the first time that a retail event as such has been held in the region.  This project is very distinctive because it really focuses on the designers and their works and stories in a retail environment that is crafted in a manner that is not solely about sales but really about fun and exposition,” explains Poon.

Though fashion is ingrained into the lifestyle of Hong Kong consumers, their money has traditionally been spent on the recognisable logos of the big fashion conglomerates and also on Japan, which represents a style ideal for a lot of Hong Kong fashion lovers. Poon expands on this point and how this in fact aids the designers: “While I think that Hong Kong and Chinese style is derivative – people dress off the pages of Vogue, US Weekly, or as they believe or feel Japanese or Korean hipsters would – the designers are clearly developing their own vocabulary. Yet as the community is disparate and as there are many difference sources of inspiration, whether or not these designers are all speaking the same language is a question. China is a really big place, with multiple centres of creativity and energy, and it is changing really quickly.”

There will be twelve designers from China and Hong Kong, exhibited and sold at dysemevas and each week, a different theme will descend upon the store that will dictate the setup and events of the store. Featured designers include Qiu Hao (Shanghai), Zhang Da (Beijing), Yang Du (Dalian & London), Among Strangers (Hong Kong), Daydream Nation (Hong Kong), Winnie Lui (Hong Kong), Rock Candy (Hong Kong), The Year Of (Hong Kong), Ji Ji (Shanghai), Zhao Bandi’s Bandi Panda (Beijing), Michael Young (Hong Kong & UK), and Lin Jing (Beijing).

Even in its temporary pop-up form, the two-storey space designed by set designer Mathias Woo, is intended to be dynamic throughout its short lifespan with a pop-up hair salon, tea parties and cocktail evenings to engage the admittedly cynical crowd of Hong Kong.

We asked five of the designers to ask them about the state of Chinese design.

Zhang Da – Fashion designer based in Shanghai
Why is it that Hong Kong/Chinese design has not been showcased in this way before?
Because there hasn't been a girl as curious about the unknown as Dee Poon before.

What other Hong Kong/Chinese fashion/art creatives do you admire other than the ones involved in dysemevas?
I am still on a quest for them.


Yang Du – Fashion designer based in London
Why do you think Hong Kong/Chinese design has not been showcased in this way before?
I have always believed that one person’s power can not make difference in any kind of the business. Only when there are many others who are sharing the same belief, passions and hard working attitude, willing to take the risk and challenge, when the time is come.
Hopefully this is the starting of the wonderful time, not just for the designers, but curators, buyers, customers, everyone who are not just proud to be Chinese, but willing to work together, not just for now, but for the future!!

What other Hong Kong/Chinese fashion/art creative do you admire other than the ones involved in dysemevs?
Where I was teenager, grew up between the 80s to 90s, I was very much
into the exciting Hong Kong fashion industry; there were many names I could remember, they were my earlier inspirations indeed! I wish there will be more new designers both in Hong Kong as well as China in the not so far future, I hope I will be a part of this coming time!!


Rock Candy – Jewellery collective based in Hong Kong
Why is it that Hong Kong/Chinese design has not been showcased in this way before?
Personally, I believe that Chinese design has been showcased before in numerous ways – but it is normally done on an individual brand basis and also, done very much overseas as well where there seems to be a greater appreciation for the style and personalities. To me, one of the issues is that Hong Kong, and Asia in general is very much wound up in the world of luxury brands, rather than the design and items themselves. It makes it tough for new designers or non-established talent to grow in some ways. In other ways it gives greater freedom as there is not the pressure of eyeballs and critique allowing brands and designers the time to master their voice and identity at their own speed.

Do you think that Hong Kong/Chinese fashion design has its own aesthetic or does it rely on the West or other Asian influences - Korea, Japan?
Ironically, Japanese design historically came from China – the older civilisation – especially in architecture, form, martial arts and early clothing. So yes, I believe it does have its own aesthetic. But, what has happened is that other countries in Asia have embraced their past whilst developing more contemporary takes on their early aesthetic roots compared with a stagnant, or rather slow evolution of a national design identity in Hong Kong and China. BUT, that is rapidly changing and being challenged as of late.
I also believe that Hong and China, and to that point many parts of Asia, have had what could be called a "Western Hangover" when it comes to design aesthetic and development. What I mean by that is that too often, design in whatever medium and means is embraced and heralded by the East when it hails from the West, especially from markets such as New York, London, Paris and other "fashion haunts". I believe for local designers in Hong Kong and China that there is a constant battle with the issue of local designers, retailers, media and investors still backing Western Design versus Local, Asian design – that is of course except Japan.


The Year Of – Luxury denim brand based in Hong Kong
Why is it that Hong Kong/Chinese design has not been showcased in this way before?
You find most Hong Kongers criticise Mainland Chinaand the craftsmanship. I take pride in it, and have been working with both HK and Mainland workers for quite some time. I admire their dedication and skill and I am obviously new to Chinese art and culture, as a Westerner.

What other Hong Kong/Chinese fashion/art creatives do you admire other than the ones involved in dysemevas?
I am a huge fan of Eric Kot, the actor, comedian, graphic designer, architect, he is truly one of the most amazing creative forces I have ever had a chance to meet and work with in the world. Simon Birch, the painter, although English born, he is a Hong Kong personality and he is simply genius with the brush, canvas and subject and paint.


Winnie Lui– Jewellery designer and stylist based in Hong Kong
Why is it that Hong Kong/Chinese design has not been showcased in this way before?
There hasn't been anyone as generous as Dee to set up an event like dysemevas, that is aimed more at presenting to the people of HK what Chinese contemporary design is rather than being a big commercial exercise.  I appreciate her intention, by using this event as a platform to share her knowledge of current Chinese designs/designers and to promote them alongside. 

Do you think that Hong Kong/Chinese fashion design has its own aesthetic or does it rely on the West or other Asian influences - Korea, Japan?
We've got our own aesthetic and it is unique enough for people not to relate to any other places.

dysemevas Pop-Up Store on From 11th November until the 21st December on 254 & 256 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong.