This month we caught up with the extremely talented Hong Kong designer, Erbert Chong! Erbert has taken the Hong Kong fashion scene by storm with his edgy yet elegant clothing – we’re obsessed with his leather looks that are worn by only the chicest girls in town.
We chat to Erbert about the challenges he faced launching his label, his hilarious dating disasters and his top tips for being effortless stylish…
How did you get started in the fashion industry?
The way I got into the fashion industry was just like an unplanned pregnancy at 18 years old. It started off as a chance encounter with a New York designer, but after that point I went the usual fashion route. I went to fashion school, interned forever, was a sales associate at Gap and H&M, started and failed and started my label again, worked for a missy wear brand and escaped to Europe for some time… It took me over a decade before I arrived at the place I am now.
What inspires you and what is your design process?
The past few seasons I have been inspired by vintage films – there is something so magical about them. When I design I don’t just design the products but the whole universe that goes with them, and I admit sometimes it’s quite fragmented. However, that’s part of the charm with my collections – I like to create something new from things that are familiar.
What are your top tips for budding entrepreneurs and fashion designers?
Have a strong, clear idea about your brand and know it well, but know your competitor even better.
Do you have a daily routine? What do you do on a day-to-day basis in your job?
I basically work 24/7. Most people that have worked with me in the past know I’m not a morning person though, so no meetings ’til I see double digits on the clock. The day usually starts with checking emails, literally the moment my eyes first open. Then I catch up on the news and I respond to messages in-between appointments. I always try to make a to-do list before bed time too.
What are your favourite local boutiques and stores in Hong Kong?
I feel like my honest answer would make me sound like an ass because I do a lot of online shopping. I like to research what I am buying beforehand, it’s almost like a hobby searching for new brands and cool items. A lot of the time, boutiques don’t take the risk on carrying these kind of brands and items in Hong Kong, or they’re just unavailable here. Shopping in Hong Kong has become so standardised… there’s always the same few brands and the same few styles, there just isn’t a lot of variety to choose from.
Who are your Top 5 favourite designers?
I’d have to choose: Madame Gres, Kenzo Takada, Martin Margiela, Guillaume Henry and Haider Ackermann.
What are you future plans and where do you hope to be in five years time?
We’ve recently expanded to the US and Europe, so that will be occupying us for the next few years. In five years time, I’d like to be an artistic director in one of the brands that belong to Kering, LVMH, or Richemont… (call me!).
What must-have items should every girl have in her wardrobe?
Basic black heels, MAC lipsticks and nice pair of sunglasses. These items go with anything on good or bad days!
Any tips for being effortlessly stylish?
Being effortlessly stylish is all about having just one statement piece and adding a statement bag per look. Let’s say if you’re going for ‘casual chic’ – just throw on ripped jeans and a crop top. In theory, this looks pretty average, BUT add on a kick ass bicker jacket, a designer bag, rock some bed-head and suddenly you can look Parisian. It’s not about owning a lot of designer pieces, just a couple of good ones that will last you years – and there’s no shame in buying second hand!
What’s the best date you’ve ever been on?
As Cheryl from Rhode Island would say, “That’s a tough one. I’d have to say April 25th. Because it’s not too hot, not too cold, all you need is a light jacket”. But seriously, I’ve never experienced “dating” where a guy has intentionally set up something with the expectation to wow me into falling in love.
Tell us about your biggest dating disaster…
There are just too many! When I was a lot younger, I was seeing this guy and I honestly did not know he was in a relationship. One night though I was at a social event and his “boyfriend” got all ghetto on me and slapped me in the face.
What do you think makes a girl Sassy?
Charisma! Being able to have that sparkle and confidence.
Where in Hong Kong do you go for grooming?
I go to Ringo at Hair Corner in K11.
What are your favourite local hangout spots?
For afternoon coffees I like to go to Blue Butcher on Hollywood Road. They have the best truffle fries, hands down! And for early evening drinks, Mott 32 is the spot (I would recommend their HK ice tea). I do enjoy Maximal Concepts’ restaurants as they offer a relaxing atmosphere and a bit of breathing room – I don’t feel cramped in them or have the need to talk over other peoples conversations.
What’s your favourite thing to do in your spare time (when you’re not designing!)
I love watching YouTube!
What’s your ideal weekend in Hong Kong?
My ideal weekend in Hong Kong is staying home and online shopping… hehe!
Follow Erbert on Instagram @ErbertChong. All images in this article were taken by the talented photographer Darren LeBeuf – get in touch with him at email@example.com.