"You need to standout and have your own distinct identity,” says Michael Mok, Head of Merchandising at Joyce Boutique. For the third time, he will be a judge for the Hong Kong Young Fashion Designers’ Contest (YDC), and he urges a new wave of fashion designers to be bold and take risks to be an international success. "We want to find a Hong Kong designer that can represent the city on an international level and be the next Vivienne Tam.”
Mok has been working at Joyce for the past 12 years, managing and stocking five Joyce Boutiques in Hong Kong and Greater China with brands across the globe that he felt had something progressive and new to offer to the fashion industry. So, it’s safe to say that he has an eye for spotting new talents that veer from short-lived trends and focus on the true essence of fashion design.
Michael Mok, Head of Merchandising, Joyce Boutique Ltd
Besides participating as a judge for the coming YDC, Mok will also be granting the highly coveted New Talent Award to one designer, which includes a mentorship and assistance to develop a capsule collection that will be sold in one of the Joyce Boutiques. “We want to carry someone that doesn’t follow trends and who isn’t influenced by the same ideas as everyone else,” he says.
Joyce Boutique has been supporting Hong Kong designers for decades with notable names like Barney Cheng in the 90s to more recent names like Kay Kwok, Jourden, Ximon Lee and last year’s YDC winner Kenneth Cheung. ‘Even before Kenneth won the YDC, we carried him,’ says Mok. “We are looking for people who have strong, focused collections and as a Hong Kong company we want to support more local brands, but unfortunately I see the local scene in decline.” Mok continues to lament. “It’s regressing. Everyone from retailers, designers and KOLs are dressing down, becoming more casual and playing it safe compared to other major cities.”
Ahead of the YDC, Mok has already shortlisted five out of 15 competing designers that he thinks would potentially be suitable for Joyce Boutique. He remains hopeful that there are young talents that will help Hong Kong maintain its edge and relevance in the fashion industry. “New designers need to look forward and not fear taking risks.”