Architectural Style: In Conversation with the Founders of EDIT and EDITECTURE
Design Anthology: Your work spans architecture, interior design and fashion. How do you find this varied experience?
Jacqueline Chak: When you design clothes, you can always touch the real thing, unlike designing buildings. And when you design buildings, you have to start very small. I think that's what we like about it and I think that applies to our clothing brand EDIT too. We look into tiny, intricate details like grouting or design details. The duration of projects is one of the biggest differences between fashion and architecture. For architecture we’re talking two to three years…
Genevieve Chew: The process of designing clothing is much quicker. Once we plan the next season, we kind of forget about the season that we've just launched. We're already planning for the end of 2020.
Chak: With EDIT, the clothing is very structured and I think that's sort of the language we like. We like clean lines, clean forms and minimalism. Genevieve is in charge of the fashion side and I'm in charge of the architecture and interior design side with EDITECTURE. But we sort of cross over and give each other creative direction.
Chew: We also like our designs to have longevity and we don't specifically follow trends. It's good to have an architect on board because she’ll notice things and say, for example, ‘I think the main labels are a little crooked’, or ‘I think the zipper needs to be a little bit, like one millimetre, smaller’. So it’s things like that that Jacqueline helps us with, details that I can’t always see.
Chak: I think we help each other see the different sides of architecture and fashion. I don’t have experience in fashion, and Genevieve doesn’t have experience in architecture, but we have common interests and share an aesthetic point of view. I think that's a good balance.
You started out as a multi-brand store, so why did you decide to launch your own label?
Chak: We met ten years ago while studying in London and we had a dream of opening a concept store for design, fashion and architecture. For these kinds of things, you just have to wait for the right time and opportunity. Genevieve set up EDIT during the four years I was working at architecture firms to build up experience in Hong Kong. And then after four years, I quit and started EDITECTURE, the architecture side of the business.
Chew: We had the store for about four years, and then it was becoming very competitive in the sense that when we got a new brand in store, a bigger fashion conglomerate would just take it over and have exclusivity in their store, which we completely understand is the name of the game. But we also got into the market for people who want fashionable clothing that is wearable and still quite affordable. So, we thought, ‘let’s try and do a small capsule collection of eight to ten pieces.’ And then we sold really well in-store, and we were approached by an agent in London and Paris who then asked us if we wanted to take our collection international. We didn't actually think much of it at the time, which I think in hindsight is a good thing.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
Chew: A lot of our inspiration comes from talking to other women and understanding what they want and like. I'm very much inspired by these kinds of conversations.
Chak: For me, it's also about the texture of materials and how they interact with one another. A lot of our collection was inspired by travel, architecture, interiors and art forms. Travelling inspires us to see buildings and be inspired by different silhouettes and shapes.
Who is the customer you design for?
Chew: Our target customers are intelligent women who want longevity in fashion. They’re fashion forward and want to look good and feel confident in what they wear.
Chak: They also dare to try. For EDITECTURE, some of our clients in China are a bit more daring, but in Hong Kong, because of the rent, it needs to be very practical. But at the same time, they look for us because they want something new. So, we have to balance the practicality and the design.
What are your experiences of working as creatives in Hong Kong?
Chew: I think, firstly, that the costs to run a business in Hong Kong are generally really high. And although it sounds like there are so many initiatives to help small businesses, it's actually quite difficult to really make it. I also think that Hongkongers are really creative, and Hong Kong in general is such a creative place. There’s so much design and energy in the city, but the grass is always greener on the other side. We always look outside for inspiration or references, but there are actually a lot of talented home-grown designers right here. We launched our brand internationally first, in London, Paris and New York — our first few stockists were Liberty and Selfridges — so our name was known as an international brand before.
Chak: A lot of people were actually very surprised when they found out we’re a Hong Kong brand. They said to us, ‘We love your brand, your Instagram, we always thought it was international.’ Also, one of the advantages is that the community here is actually quite small. It's easy for people to know each other and connect. Even though there’s competition, at the same time it's quite supportive.
As told to / Babette Radclyffe-Thomas
Images / Jeremy Smart