I’ve traveled the world and had the opportunity to learn a great deal through my camera lens. But it’s when the camera is put away and the conversation opens up that I've found the most lasting experiences - intimate, intangible, and most meaningful in reflection.
Sometimes simple actions or simple conversations ask - or answer - big questions. This is a series about momentary connections and what they say about style, about clothes - and about the people who wear them.
In Passing: Style on the Streets of Hong Kong
I had spoken to Chris Tuazon through a few emails over the course of a year, but our first few exchanges in person felt the same as our emails – short yet impactful. Since moving to Hong Kong three years ago he’s continued to teach in a couple of schools, and lives with his wife in a quiet part of a neighboring city. His clothing is reflective of his personality: quiet sensible, ready to listen to anyone with substance, to teach what he can, when he can. Even while on his daily commute, where he finds a bit of calm influence: “I love standing in the subway, watching young and old talk to each other in distinct languages, garments, and paces…”
Chris asked me why I’d chosen to wear cargo pants with my sport coat. My claim of “utility” opened the door to his lamentations on utilitarianism as a pathway for a garment’s constant presence through time. It was a simple observation: clothing is useful, but it’s our take on that utility - whether it’s situational utility or aesthetic utility that we seek - that defines our understanding of its form and function. After all, it’s just cloth we use to cover ourselves, right?
Perry walked into The Armoury in Hong Kong and shook a few familiar hands. I’d never met him before, but he struck me as slightly out of place. I mean this in the best way possible: rakish, with a visible understanding of how he wanted to present himself to the world; an anomaly in Hong Kong, where drab blue suits are the norm.
Perry was warm and soft spoken; comfortable in front of a camera when many people grow shy or nervous. After a few introductory words, we stepped outside into the financial district and I snapped as we spoke briefly. Even in a city consumed by fast fashion and not-so-easy-to-digest price tags, there are some, like Perry, who believe clothing should fill you with pride - and not just your closet for the next 6 months.
Arnold Wong has to be one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. Period. Not only does he have an uncanny resemblance to Chow Mo-wan, the lead character from In The Mood For Love (a cult classic from 2000), but he evokes the same romantic mood. I swear he was plucked right from the 1940’s and thrown into this decade.
One particular sensibility really stood out during our time together – Arnold’s insistence on living by a set of simple rules. He broke down his values, his core beliefs, and how he chooses which people to have in his life.
By that same standard, he follows simple rules that affect how he presents himself to the world. They’re rudimentary; such as that dress trousers should have turn-ups, or that a dinner jacket should always be ventless. Small things, that are nevertheless at the core of classical dress - or whatever we want to call it now.
All in all, Arnold is best described in his own words: “I find great pleasure in anything of enduring quality and timelessness. The former takes a great deal of artisanship, and the latter rests in the culmination of effortless style.”
"Risk Takers," the first volume of A&H Magazine, is available now.