Moustache Fifth Anniversary, a Look Back, pt. 1
With, perhaps, an uncharacteristic lack of public fanfare, we celebrated the fifth anniversary of Moustache last week. As many of you will know and feel, there’s a lot of change in the air of late, some uncertainty of course, but so much creation and renewal too- from the fact that almost every lady I know is about to or has had a baby (congratulations Emily!) to the escalation of the battle for suffrage here in Hong Kong, to the wedding celebrations for Samantha and Adrian (and Gilles and Charlotte too!), to, on a personal front, our unexpected but totally life-changing move back to our old neighborhood of Shek-O, a very pretty beachside suburb of Hong Kong. It was here, five years ago, that we had the idea of Moustache, and after five years of sometimes hard city living, we are feeling very connected again to the creative energy one can summon with just a little relaxation, air and light. As more than one friend has noted, it as if we have closed a circle almost. While I won’t claim that we’ve made our fortune, we’ve had a successful first few years in business, and it’s seemed a good time to have a look back through the years. Thankfully, living in the age of modern technology, we can have a very thorough look back!
To do that, though, we have to go back a but further than five years, to our initial foray into menswear and tailoring, j.a.daye. This name is the pen name I used when I was a writer, which is what I had always wanted to be when grown-up and even have a novel in a box which I carry around from apartment to house. The following is our very first collection, modeled by moi, on location in Shek-O and Sheung Wan, sometime in the winter of 2008. Ellis, who is as talented a photographer as he is a clothes-maker, took all the photos, and more than one of our later collections too. One of the things I love best about this is it’s printed as a book, and the colours of the ink have really faded into the paper giving it a rather forlorn kind of aspect.
Our original idea had been to create a website where one could view this tailored collection, upload one’s body measurements, with the assistance of some instructional videos hosted by yours truly which I am NOT going to share, and order a made-to-measure suit, or trench coat, or any of the other pieces of the collection.
Some mood boards from the first collection.
The collection was augmented with some more casual, ready-to-wear items. I’ve still got and have worn with gusto both of these original samples from that collection for five years with literally no visible wear and tear.
We even took the show on the road! Here we are in Paris for a trade salon, made possible by a nice grant from the Hong Kong small business bureau. As you can see, it was quite a big collection! All I remember is freezing to death and trying not to freeze to death by drinking copius amounts of red wine. Oh and it was also Obama’s inauguration, in a Paris bistro with loads of expats and journos all drinking red wine and trying not to freeze to death. It was very glamourous! Unfortunately, it was also the beginning of the financial tsunami, so alas there was not too much business for the first collection of a new Hong Kong menswear brand. We didn’t care though- by the end of the trip we’d decided to make our own shop.
Initally, we turned half of the big loft we had worked out of on Hollywood Road into a showroom for the ready-to-wear collection and a tailoring atelier, as we were already finding that the demand for the made-to-measure tailoring in person was outpacing the demand through our website. We were so pleased with the new look that we threw a party and invited everyone we knew at the time. After five years of running a quite public business, this now seems like a cozy, totally do-able but slightly underwhelming number. And in any case, this was to turn out to be a rather short-lived situation…