advertisement

Ever since Hong Kong received a large influx of Shanghainese tailors following the revolution in China in 1949, Hong Kong has been a center for the fashion industry. Today, clothing remains one of Hong Kong's best buys, and many major international design houses have boutiques here; several have nearby factories as well, mostly across the border in mainland China. Look for a number of Hong Kong designers, including Vivienne Tam, Walter Ma, Lu Lu Cheung, and William Tang.

For a wide range in prices, the department stores listed above are best for one-stop shopping for the entire family, as are Hong Kong's many malls and shopping centers. Otherwise, small, family-owned shops abound in both Tsim Sha Tsui, Causeway Bay, and Stanley Market, offering casual wear, washable silk outfits, and other clothing at very affordable prices.

If you're looking for international designer brands and don't care about price, several arcades and shopping centers are known for their brand names. The Landmark, located on Des Voeux Road Central in Central, is an ultrachic shopping complex boasting the highest concentration of international brand names in Hong Kong, including Gucci, Tiffany & Co., Polo/Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, Manolo Blahnik, Sonia Rykiel, Jimmy Choo, Lu Lu Cheung, Paul Smith, Vivienne Tam, and Dior, as well as British luxury import Harvey Nichols, restaurants, and other shops. (Though for mainland Chinese these brands will be priced cheaper, Westerners will not find any particular bargains.) The shops here are generally open daily from 10:30am to 7:30pm. Other nearby fashion centers known for their international designer boutiques (and linked to the Landmark via elevated walkways) include the Prince's Building, next to the Mandarin Hotel, with boutiques for a. testoni, Chanel, Cartier, Ralph Lauren, and others; Alexandra House, with outlets for Prada and Dolce & Gabbana among others; and Chater House, with several Armani shops that sell everything from household items to clothing and cosmetics.

Across the harbor, the Peninsula Hong Kong, on Salisbury Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, has concessions for Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, and Prada, to name only a few of the 80-some shops, while nearby K11, on Hanoi Road, claims to be the world's first "art mall" as it intersperses sculpture and paintings with boutiques like Y-3. Tsim Sha Tsui's Canton Road, with a growing number of designer shops, has emerged as Hong Kong's Champs-Elysees, with Dior, Salvatore Ferragamo, Chanel, Louis Vuitton (the world's largest), Hermes, Gucci, Prada, Hugo Boss, Armani, and other stores lining the street.

For trendier designs catering to an upwardly mobile younger crowd, check out the Joyce (www.joyce.com) chain, established in the 1970s by Joyce Ma to satisfy Hong Kong women's cravings for European designs. Today her stores carry clothing by Galliano, Vera Wang, Stella McCartney, Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garçons), Rodarte, and others on the cutting edge of fashion. You'll find Joyce shops at 18 Queen's Rd. Central, Central (tel. 852/2810 1120; MTR: Central); Shop 232 in Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Central (tel. 852/2523 5944; MTR: Admiralty); and Shop G106 in the Gateway, Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui (tel. 852/2367 8128; MTR: Tsim Sha Tsui). Bargain hunters in the know head also to the Joyce Warehouse, located on the south end of Hong Kong Island near Aberdeen, on the 21st floor of Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing St., Ap Lei Chau (tel. 852/2814 8313; bus: M590 from Exchange Square in Central to Ap Lei Chau). You never know what you may find among the discounted, off-season designer wear, but discounts run 30% to 70% off the original prices; I have found some delightful bargains here. It's open daily 10am to 7pm. The Swank (www.swank.com.hk) began importing European designer labels to Hong Kong in 1955 and today carries the latest fashions from established and up-and-coming international designers in its stores in the Landmark (tel. 852/2868 6990) and Shop 230 of Pacific Place (tel. 852/2736 8567; MTR: Admiral), both in Central, as well as Shop 103B of Ocean Centre, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui (tel. 852/2175 4228; MTR: Tsim Sha Tsui).

For young, fun fashion, Granville Road, east of Nathan Road, attracts teenagers and 20-somethings looking for clothing, lingerie, accessories, and cosmetics at bargain prices. Otherwise, Tsim Sha Tsui's number-one draw for young shoppers is LCX, which occupies most of Level 3 of Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui (tel. 852/3102 3668). Cutting-edge fashions and accessories here include those by Fossil, agnes b., Bauhaus, and Swatch, as well as many names I'm too old to recognize. It's open Sunday to Thursday 10:30am to 9:30pm and Friday and Saturday 10:30am to 10:30pm.

For Chinese clothing, best bets include Chinese department stores, Shanghai Tang, and Hong Kong's many markets. Another, albeit pricey, alternative is Blanc de Chine (www.blancdechine.com), with locations on the second floor of the Pedder Building, 12 Pedder St., Central (tel. 852/2524 7875; MTR: Central), and in the Landmark, Des Voeux Road Central (tel. 852/2104 7934; MTR: Central). In addition to both Western and Chinese clothing, these classy stores also produce their own chic line of Chinese clothing. You'll find Vivienne Tam's Chinese designs with a Western twist at Shop 309, the Landmark, Des Voeux Road Central, Central (tel. 852/2868 2826; MTR: Central); Shop 209, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Central (tel. 852/2918 0238; MTR: Admiralty); Shop 408, Times Square, Causeway Bay (tel. 852/2506 0098; MTR: Causeway Bay); and Shop 215 of Ocean Centre, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui (tel. 852/2117 0028; MTR: Tsim Sha Tsui). She also has an outlet store in Citygate, Shop 245 (tel. 852/2265 8808; MTR: Tung Chung), with discounted prices.

Factory Outlets & Discount Stores

Savvy shoppers head for Hong Kong's factory outlets to buy at least some of their clothes. These outlets sell excess stock, overruns, and quality-control rejects; because these items have been made for the export market, the sizes are Western. Bargains include clothes made of silk, cashmere, cotton, linen, knitwear, and wool, and some outlets have men's and children's clothing as well. Some manufacturers even produce clothing for famous designer labels, though it's not unusual to find labels cut out.

However, there are a few caveats about shopping in factory outlets. For one thing, you never know in advance what will be on sale, and sometimes the selection is disappointing. Some outlets do not have fitting rooms, and it's important to carefully examine garments inside and out for tears and stains. What's more, some outlets are indistinguishable from upmarket boutiques, with prices to match. In fact, it seems that some shops simply call themselves "factory outlets" because that's what tourists are looking for.

Popular hunting grounds include street markets -- notably Ladies' Market in Mong Kok -- which often serve as outlets for mainland factories, as do many stores on and around Granville Road in Tsim Sha Tsui. Otherwise, the best-known building that houses factory-outlet showrooms is the Pedder Building, 12 Pedder St., Central. Approximately 30 shops are located on five floors, though many of these shops are not factory outlets -- they're simply regular boutiques with the same merchandise at the same prices found at their other branches. In addition, a new trend seems to be shops selling used designerwear, shoes, and handbags, making it good for bargains in last season's fashions. The Pedder Building also has shops selling jewelry, accessories, and home decor. In any case, it's convenient to have so many shops in one building and it's fun to just poke around here.

Probably the best place for one-stop discount shopping is Citygate, located at the end of Tung Chung MTR Line on Lantau Island (tel. 852/2109 2933; www.citygateoutlets.com.hk; MTR: Tung Chung). Hong Kong's only outlet mall, it offers discounts of 30% to 70% off international brand names, including Bally, Burberry, Benetton, Levi's, Rockport, Vivienne Tam, Timberland, adidas, Nike, and more. Note, however, that not all the shops at Citygate are outlets. Because of its late hours, you can cap off a trip to the Giant Buddha with a shopping expedition here. Open hours differ depending on the shop, but all are open daily, most of them from about 11am to 9:30 or 10pm.

Tailors

The 24-hour suit is a thing of the past, but you can still have clothes custom-made here in a few days. Tailoring in Hong Kong really began in the 1950s, when tailor families from Shanghai fled China and set up shop in Hong Kong. Today, prices are no longer cheap, but they're often about what you'd pay for a ready-made, top-quality garment in the West; the difference, of course, is that a tailor-made garment should fit you perfectly. The standards of the better, established shops rival even those of London's Savile Row -- at less than half the price.

Tailors in Hong Kong will make anything you want, from business suits and evening gowns to wedding dresses, leather jackets, and monogrammed shirts. Some stores will allow you to provide your own fabric, while others require that you buy theirs. Many tailors offer a variety of fabrics, however, including linen, fine wools, cashmere, and silk. Hong Kong tailors are excellent at copying fashions, including famous designerwear, even if all you have is a picture or drawing of what you want.

On average, allow 3 to 5 days to have a garment custom-made, including two or three fittings. For a suit, expect three fittings and a minimum of 6 days. Be specific about details such as lining, tightness of fit, buttons, and length. If you aren't satisfied during the fittings, speak up. Alterations should be included in the original price (ask about this during your first negotiations). If, in the end, you still don't like the finished product, you don't have to accept it, but you'll forfeit the deposit you are required to pay before the tailor begins working, about 50% of the total cost.

Hong Kong boasts more than 2,500 tailoring establishments. Some of the most famous are located in hotel shopping arcades and shopping complexes, but the more upscale the location, the higher the prices. Though touts both persistent and annoying along Nathan Road will try to get you into their shop, some of Hong Kong's most well known shops are here, too. Your best bet is to deal only with HKTB member shops, listed online (www.discoverhongkong.com/qts).

Once you've had something custom-made and your tailor has your measurements, you will more than likely be able to order additional clothing later, even from home.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.