Though London is known as a breeding ground for new labels and provides good a starting point for a fashion graduate, that’s not to guarantee that any degree commercial of success will come your way. Johanna Ho, from Hong Kong, graduated from Central St Martin’s and her collection was marked as a standout collection by the then fashion editor of the UK Times Iain R. Webb. She started her own label in 1998 and though it was well-received at London Fashion Week in the beginning, getting stocked at Browns, Barneys etc, she soon turned to concentrating on the Asian market, getting stocked mostly in Japan by basing her company in Hong Kong.
I think we are reaching a point in time wherby success in fashion can’t simply be measured whether you make it to the catwalks in the four fashion capitals and whether you get a ton of international press. There is no shame in the commercial success that can be achieved by concentrating on a market such as Asia where spending power is getting to dizzy heights as highlighted by this WSJ article on young Hong Kong designers and of course, the fiscal advantages of being based in Hong Kong, compared to London are pretty awesome (I’m lamenting why Inland Revenue have taken half of my pay cheque….?!).
So yes, Johanna’s old English website is defunct because she has decamped to a much cuter, updated Japanese-based website which has her latest collection’s lookbook. I really like how she has put a spin on girly by mixing in a hotchpotch of 20’s/30’s/40’s touches that are barely noticeable as being ‘period’. A few weeks ago, I raved about Nuan+, a Japanese e-boutique and they sell a decent selection of Johanna Ho’s collection. As I’m not longer able to get the best of both living in London and travelling to Hong Kong frequently, I guess I’ll have to content myself with staring at look book pictures and pondering whether I should enlist the help of someone to procure myself some Johanna Ho….
In short, I do think that just because us Western-based peeps have not heard of a designer, does not mean they’re not making waves the other side of the world. Like the Disney ride ‘It’s a Small World’ though, I do feel (and hope!) that the world is getting smaller and that we aren’t just looking at fashion within the supposed ‘important’ fashion spots.