Started out as a Hong Kong brand, now with 60-plus stores across Hong Kong, fashion brand Initial has become quite a beautiful tale of Hong Kong fashion in the last decade.
Vintage has never been common in modern China, including Hong Kong. But increasingly strong vintage trend in the west and in Japan since the late 1990s – with a small group of “underground” Hong Kong youngsters who adored a small local shop called 美之, a bargain vintage emporium located in a tacky market street in Hong Kong downtown, Initial has turned such subculture into its small empire today.
Now Initial’s shops are full of European-inspired antiques. But as we said, vintage wasn’t so common in Hong Kong 10-15 years ago, so the game was pick and choose. For Initial’s owner and his marketing team, what in the vintage-buying subculture should they forage and what should they not?
Firstly, product, instead of vintage, Initial has gone for a much more “acceptable” black&white and Japanese layering style. Japanese fashion has a decades long history of inspiring Hong Kongese dressing style (until the Korean came in the mix). In Japanese fashion, one thing is key –layering. Initial has adopted that. On the other hand, by working with local developer Sun Hung Kei and opened shops in their masstige malls, Initial got to touch the soft spot of their mainstream customers. Vintage is cool, but who wants to go through the tacky market, find the tiny little shop and pick their style from clothe rails full of shocking-yellow “20 HKD” signs?
By making Sex and The City Carrie and Gossip Girl’s Blair’s “Upper East Side” vintage look accessible, Initial found its own positioning, sat right on it, and so its way to success.