Aesop is setting an example of how to launch a good pride campaign with its Queer Library — back for the second year globally and for its inaugural edition in Hong Kong.
Cult skincare brand Aesop has always been outspoken about gender issues, beginning with the launch of its genderless fragrances earlier. Now, the company is delving deeper with the opening of its Queer Library in Hong Kong for the first time.
For one week only, from 26 to 31 October, Aesop is swapping products for books in its Gough Street store. Operating on a belief in the transformative power of queer storytelling, the brand has cleared its shelves of its bestselling perfumes and soaps and filled them with a range of books by LGBTQIA+ authors.
Local Aesop colleagues, together with Ztoryteller, an independent platform for new voices in art and writing, have curated 45 titles by Hong Kong, Taiwan and UK authors. Of these, eight titles are written in English, including What’s the T? by Juno Dawson (which I’m currently reading) and Real Life by Brandon Taylor.
Visitors are welcome to browse through the library and pick up a book of their choice, with no purchase necessary. At the counter, they can select an Aesop fragrance and have it spritzed all over their chosen title for a unique scented reading experience. There’s nothing Hongkongers like more than free stuff, so if you ask me, Aesop must be onto something here.
Aesop’s Queer Library initiative debuted last year in New York, Los Angeles and Toronto, with stops in London and Berlin. This year, it’s making the rounds in Asia, popping up in neighbouring cities Tokyo, Osaka, Taipei and Taichung.
Hong Kong is still relatively conservative when it comes to gender issues, so for the campaign to launch here is a bold move for the brand. Show your support by picking up a free book and diving into the world of queer literature — there’s a lot for you and me to learn.
The Aesop Queer Library at 2 Gough Street, Central, Hong Kong, is open from now until 31 October. If you miss it, a miniature version of the library will be housed at Aesop stores in Hysan Place and Festival Walk until 20 November. For more information on the initiative, head over to the brand’s website.
Update on 30 October: All books at Aesop Hysan Place and Festival Walk have been distributed. Customers are invited to take home a copy of the Aesop Queer Cities Guide.