Hong Kong’s actors, models, musicians and more are dropping off their barely worn luxury clothes and accessories at Byebuy Market, Sai Wan’s new destination for vintage hunters and celebrity lovers alike.
Much has been made of the pre-loved and circular market when it comes to clothes; arguably, it might be one of the only ways we can achieve something resembling sustainability in fashion. But here in Hong Kong, sustainability — essential for all our industries to aspire to — still faces a critical hurdle: It’s just not that cool. Or least, not enough to overtake the brand names and luxuries we all desire and take for granted. But a new store, the handiwork of a group of models-slash-celebrities-slash-all-around-cool-kids hopes to change all that.
Byebuy Market has opened up shop in Sai Wan with a different kind of vintage proposition: These pieces were pre-loved and pre-owned by the models, singers and stars of stage and screen in Hong Kong. Celebrities are accustomed to getting their share of luxury gifts — but what happens when their larger-than-most Hong Kong closets start bursting at the seams with barely-worn and like-new pieces?
“Celebrities needs to have different outfits to be in front of the camera; we don’t want to create fashion waste,” says Jeremy Wong, actor and model, co-founder of Byebuy Market and yes, full disclosure, society editor for our sister publication Prestige Hong Kong. “The concept is to help save the environment and recycle, selling celebrities’ second-hand items to find a new owner for preloved clothes, shoes and accessories.”
When a friend and business partner reached out to Wong about developing a new project in the corridor of the Mei Sun Building, the actor, who fell in love with vintage hunting while living in London, called up a few friends from around the industry to help bring the project to life.
“All my friends are in the entertainment circle, including actors, actresses, influencers, singers, stylists — they all have a lot of seedings (translation: free swag) from brands and different outfits for events or on stage. It was becoming a headache for many of them, trying to get rid of old clothes and not go to waste,” says Wong. “Most of the clothes are from popular brands, worn only one or two times, then they need another one.”
Between Wong and his co-founders, actor Jason Wu and musician Hana Tam — plus partnership with entertainment and media powerhouse Francis Cheng — that circle is an extensive one, with plenty of those luxury seedings (read: free swag) coming their way from all angles. Barely worn (if at all) pieces labeled with names like Louis, Tom and a couple of Christians all vie for space on Byebuy’s racks and tables, some still in season and at a price point more pocket-friendly than you’ll find at any local flagship.
On top of the environmental benefits that come with giving new life to older clothes, Byebuy caters to animal lovers, as well. All of the co-founders are pet owners themselves, and donate a portion of the proceeds from each Byebuy sale to local animal shelter, Pet With You Hong Kong. Customers are encouraged to bring their own shopping bags, but the store is happy to provide — as long as you make a donation to Pet With You first.
Luxury fits, sold well below retail, that help cats and dogs and don’t end up in a landfill somewhere when it comes time to move? Hard to beat, especially for those of us civilians who aren’t sitting at the top of the seeding list.
What remains to be seen is whether or not celebrities prove a big enough draw to get Hongkongers out to shop their pre-owned wares — and bring a spark of youthful energy to the address, where the owner hopes to see more development and new businesses arrive and thrive.
“The owner of the mall was my partner at my previous bar; him and his partners own the whole corridor mall of Mei Sun Building — around 20 stores there,” says Wong. “Central is well developed with brands and shops; Sheung Wan has a lot of cool bars, restaurants and galleries around; Kennedy Town is full of western-style cafes and restaurants. We started to think, ‘Why don’t Sai Wan and Sai Ying Pun have a hype place for cool kids to hang out?'”
So far, so good. The cool kids are coming, dropping off their garments and getting their Polaroids on the walls to prove it.
“The majority of clothes are from singers, actors and actresses, influencers. The stars I’m allowed to tell the public are Panther Chan, Hera Chan and ToNick — and of course, my partners Jason Wu and Hana Tam,” says Wong. “Artists keep dropping off their items every day.”
For their part, Wong, Wu and Tam hope to do more with the stars than just flip their old clothes — as a number of Hong Kong artists and musicians have launched their own brands, the team is planning some collaborations and pop-ups to put spotlight the celebrities and their wares.
“We are planning some events like, ‘A Weekend with the Celebrity’, as Byebuy only opens from Friday to Sunday,” adds Wong. “If customers are lucky enough, they might be able to grab a picture with them or chat with them in person.”
So whether you love pets, the planet, vintage clothes or the celebrities who wear them — Byebuy hopes to have something for you. Who’s up for a little thrifting with the stars?
Byebuy is open from Friday to Sunday, 12pm – 8pm. Follow Byebuy on Instagram at @byebuymarket.hk.
Byebuy Market, A01, Mei Sun Lau Shopping Arcade, Des Voeux Road West (4 minutes walk from HKU MTR exit B2)