Success on the Other Side

Success on the Other Side

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.   



Leave a comment
  1. Mental-Fashion

    2007-11-24 at 3:53 PM

    I like all her clothes in the pics!

  2. selina

    2007-11-24 at 5:13 PM

    if the market is predominantly asian now, it asks the question of why the model is very blonde and pale skinned? does alot of textile marketing use caucasian people in asia? i ask because if I (hopefully) spend the year there, I’m wondering how influenced actual hong kong will be by the western world; i’m hoping for an ultimate culture shock, not familiar faces!

  3. Mer

    2007-11-24 at 5:47 PM

    Great post. I hope the same. We need more “colors” in fashion! Cheers

  4. Drusilla

    2007-11-24 at 8:34 PM

    There’s a lot of interesting design going on in HK/Singapore etc now…and often a designer’s success is quite localised because the clothes they make are mainly relevant to their domestic markets so working it for London etc doesn’t seem as appealing. I know it happens a lot with Indian designers..

  5. brooksie

    2007-11-24 at 10:51 PM

    These ensembles shown are all nicely designed and wearable…I say this as someone who normally dismisses much in brown. Her cuts thoughtful and tailoring masterful. It ain’t easy tailoring knits.
    You’ve got great taste Susie Bubble!

  6. anna

    2007-11-25 at 12:33 AM

    loved the piece in crazia magazine.
    your a great example to me of dreams come true… meaning you had a passion for fashion,you went for it by creating this site and people acknowledge it…
    ANY TIPS FOR ME???????

  7. anna

    2007-11-25 at 12:34 AM

    sorry grazia magazine

  8. Meg

    2007-11-25 at 10:52 AM

    This is one of my favourite (non-avant garde) collections that you’ve posted recently. I’m in love with the brown coat with the scalloped edge, and her slouchy layering is masterful. Nice post!

  9. susie_bubble

    2007-11-26 at 9:56 AM

    Selina: Good question… the lookbook online uses a Japanese model and really, the clothes don’t suit one particular ethnicity.
    Yes, there is a trend of using Eurasian/Caucasian models in fashion branding in Asia and when you go to Hong Kong, you will discover there are certain ideals of ‘beauty’ though I think it’s changing at the moment. I think you’ll still get that culture shock but HK is also an ex-British colony so you will get some elements of familiarity.
    Drusilla: Very true… I think localised success needs to be highlighted though… to be ‘big’ in one country is an achievement and even if it doesn’t cross over to the fashion capitals, it shouldn’t be disregarded…
    Anna: I will check out your blog…. I can’t really say that I’ve gone chasing for press attention… all I can say is be true to yourself and have fun with what you do… a bit of TLC on your blog will go a long way…
    It’s a shame that most (inc. myself) can only admire Johanna Ho’s images…. I would love to get my hands on some of her stuff…

  10. konwae lin @ mies

    2007-11-27 at 12:34 PM

    Johanna is a dear friend and client of mine. As a client, she has flawless tastes in vintage and always picks the best and most interesting pieces in my store. She has a great understanding of fashion history and of all the great designers from Poiret, Saint Laurent to Vionnet, whom she loves, ditto Sonia Rykiel.
    Johanna has great personal style and always looks cool and stylish. She blends both Eastern and Western sensibilities since she grew up in the UK but was HK-born. OH, if you are interested, she was also classmates with Stella McCartney at Saint Martins…
    As a dear friend, she is warm, kind, humble, genuine, has impeccable manners and is gentle and soft-spoken. She is amazingly talented and gifted as a designer and has REAL design talent, unlike many of the so-called ‘designers’ of HK, who spend so much time on the social/cocktail circuit, and have very little real talent or taste to speak of.
    I love her clothes and I think they are very special. She’s really excellent with knits. She really has a following here in HK as well as in Japan where she has a thriving business and following. She understands what it is like for a young woman who lives in the city and wants to look cool, stylish and individual.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.