Meet Frequent Flyer, Hong Kong’s own line of stylish travel accessories that blend fashion, function and fun
Launched in 2016, Frequent Flyer was 20 years in the making. Managing Director Patrick So used to go to the old Kai Tak International Airport and watch the planes landing. Having worked in Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) of bags for many years, and working closely with several global brands gave him a unique insight into how to create a product line when he established his own label.
So said his idea for Frequent Flyer was inspired by two brands that are both markedly different, Visvim and Herschel, the former of which he worked for in 2006 for a year. “The designer sets a high standard for innovation and quality. He has a grand style and utilises shoe making technology to make bags.”
In 2009, Herschel became his client and they started building the brand together. It grew so fast that it had more than 1,500 stock keeping units (SKU) per season. Their idea is that any buyer in the world can find something in their line, he said. “Visvim is about depth and Herschel is about breadth. For Frequent Flyer, I’d like to give a broad enough selection but also make sure that uniqueness and creativity are front and centre [of the brand].”
Frequent Flyer’s target audience are global travellers who travel with fun. It’s important that the products have exemplary functionality while enhancing the overall look of an outfit, said So. The design team spends a lot of time deliberating on the construction of each bag. “The idea is to create bags users can intuitively understand and use to its full potential, whether it be backpacks, bags, carry-on trolleys, phone and camera cases and pouches,” he added.
The Captain Zip Around Backpack, for instance, features many compartments and pockets, and its bucket shape can be laid out flat for easy storage. The zip-around feature, which enables the bag to be fastened quickly, is also found in the trolleys and duffels.
Fabric experimentation is another priority for Frequent Flyer. Different knitting techniques that are usually used in sports sneakers are applied on Frequent Flyer bags, for example. You are also likely to see unusual materials like denim, corduroy and wool used in these stylish accessories. Frequent Flyer offers more than 100 styles of bags and accessories in a variety of colours, patterns, and materials. This season, the brand has added a line of loafer shoes enhanced by premium farmed Elk leather and Vibram rubber soles, which are super-light and perfect for city walking.
A relatively young brand, Frequent Flyer already has two retail outlets in Hong Kong and one in Guangzhou, along with a substantial list of stockists in Hong Kong, the Chinese Mainland and overseas. So does not consider this an impressive achievement but rather a natural progression.
“What I learned from Herschel is that more often than not you can’t control the pace your brand is growing. You have to be ready at all the time and have the right package for the market. We’re responsible for our entire supply chain, from manufacturing to retail. The downside is there’s so much to do. But the good thing is that our team has worked together for a long time and we understand each other. Whatever design we come up with, our colleagues can almost always deliver. The passion of our whole team is what brought us here,” said So.
This season, Frequent Flyer has collaborated with London-based Hong Kong designer KA WA KEY to launch a crossover collection, which incorporates the patterns of his Fall/Winter collection inspired by “Brokeback Mountain” into Frequent Flyer’s backpack, duffel and hip pack. Incorporating faux fur into the line presented some technical challenges but the production team overcame these issues to deliver an impressive collection.
So said that he is open to collaborate with other designers and brands to bring out a different side of Frequent Flyer. Next season, it with partner with shoe label House of Avenues for a noticeably more girly and feminine collection.
So doesn’t anticipate a rapid expansion as he wishes to further develop existing markets while continuously improving the brand offering. “Technology in shoe making has progressed a lot in the past but not in bags. We want to make bag-making more innovative and deign driven.”