In this recurring monthly series, join the editors of Lifestyle Asia as we dive deep into the proverbial closets of Hong Kong’s best-dressed individuals. From outré fashions to classic tailoring, we ask our “Style Heroes” to share some of their favourite pieces with us and, in the process, give us glimmers of insight into what defines their personal style.
To the untrained eye, there’s a temptation to ascribe various rather ineffectual adjectives (i.e. “neat”, “clean”, “sombre”) to Justin Chang’s personal style. After all, the business development manager of renowned Hong Kong shirtmaker Ascot Chang is most typically seen in the vestments of the urban professional: Justin’s suits waver on the fault line between charcoal and navy; his preferred method for adding visual flair often hinges on texture; and he favours the kind of remarkably orthodox casual wear silhouettes you’d find in a Champion catalogue circa 1960. On paper, this all sounds a bit like an incursion into “business casual” territory, but nuance is the name of the game. Even whilst operating within the nominally corporate framework of say, a coat and tie, Justin finds ways to shake off the medium’s frumpier connotations: Whether it’s a 2-piece suit in tobacco linen or a tux worthy of Slimane, these are worn with a perceptible lightness at odds with most tailoring you see in the city.
Much of this sangfroid is the direct result of what Justin does for work: despite an excellent word-of-mouth reputation and a (surprisingly varied) clientele, Ascot Chang is still a small independent business. That necessarily means that Justin wears a lot of different hats: From fitting 200+ Morgan Stanley clients in one day to developing new products (at the brand’s Hung Hom facility) and traveling abroad, the sheer scope of work puts him in an eclectic mixture of places and settings, often at a moment’s notice. For that, you need clothing that is comfortable without being sloppy; stylish but not alienating; “smart” as opposed to merely functional. True to form, we asked Justin for 10 items from his closet that satisfy all of the above — take a look below.
1. Kired Lasercut Rain Shell
“Kired is an Italian outerwear manufacturer that likes to combine cutting edge production methods with traditional silhouettes. This “Rain Shell” is their version of a classic knee-length Mac, the lasercut edges give the coat an unmistakably modern aesthetic. The seams are also sealed using a heating process that guarantees maximum water resistance in a downpour — handy for our wet summers in Hong Kong.”
2. Ascot Chang bespoke navy Prince of Wales suit
“As an alternative to a solid navy suit, I like to opt for subtle patterns like a Glen Plaid or Prince of Wales check. The contrast between the checked pattern and the suit’s base colour need to be kept intentionally low, otherwise the whole thing can feel too overly casual. Here, I’m wearing one of our bespoke Ascot Chang commissions in a dark navy base, overlaid with a black Glen Plaid. From a distance the suit will look dark, but there’s now a touch more visual interest once you get up close.”
3. Ascot Chang bespoke multi-stripe shirt
“This is an interesting shirt pattern that can appear quite daunting at first: the stripes are all different widths and shades, while the scale is on the larger size. However, the end-on-end weave of the lighter block stripe helps to reduce the shirt’s overall contrast, making it a good choice to wear with a suit.”
4. Ascot Chang black knit tie
“I’ve found myself reaching for a black knit tie more and more, often in lieu of a navy one. The latter can often be an unimaginative choice when paired with a navy suit, especially if the tie and jacket are close enough in colour to start blending with one another. Black adds that extra bit of contrast to an outfit — a detail that’s accentuated by the tie’s visibly scrunchy knit texture. Just remember to wear black shoes!”
5. Kow Hoo bespoke black oxfords
“Every man needs a well-made pair of black captoe oxfords. These are my go-to workhorse pair for any dark business suiting — in a pinch, I’ve even worn them with a tuxedo. Kow Hoo is the last remaining Hong Kong shoemaker who still hand-make a wooden last — conceptually not dissimilar to what we do with shirting patterns — for all of their customers. Naturally, such time consuming artisanal quality comes with an eye-watering price tag, but this is one purchase that I’ve yet to regret.”
6. Ascot Chang unstructured jacket
“This is a fairly new development for us at Ascot Chang. We wanted to create a sport jacket that wears like a comfortable sweater, and this was the result. We stripped away all the padding, canvas and lining, leaving only the sleeve lining in order to reduce friction when putting the jacket on. It’s super comfortable and now my go-to smart casual jacket. The boucle fabric here is from Loro Piana, the beautiful texture is as comfortable as it looks.”
7. Ascot Chang white button-down polo
“This is another smart casual staple for us: in many respects, this is a regular long sleeve polo, but we made it with a button down shirt-style collar so that it wouldn’t slide beneath sportcoats. The placket is also slightly elongated, as we wanted to create the illusion of it being a shirt if worn alongside a buttoned jacket.”
8. Nackymade sunglasses
“There’s just something about clear acetate frames that I really like. Maybe it’s the pop culture connotations: Andy Warhol wore them, and if they’re good enough for him then they’re good enough for me! This pair is by Nackymade, a Japanese eyeglass maker based in Kobe. Nacky likes to add interesting details around the tips of the arms and the design of his keyhole bridge is ideally suited to Asian nose shapes. I was so happy with these clear acetate frames that I ordered a second pair from his as regular glasses.”
9. Ascot Chang stretch knit belt
“This knit belt stretches with you as you sit down, making it a favourite of mine to travel with. It works better with casual outfits — I wear it with denim or washed chinos for best results — but can be a really useful point of interest on monotone outfits like a taupe cotton suit. This one is in a versatile dark brown, but we also stock them in cheerier colours for more of a nautical feel.”
10. Ascot Chang olive jungle jacket
“Inspired by the jungle fatigues that were commonly worn by U.S. servicemen during the Vietnam War, this jungle jacket is a follow-up to our ever-popular safari design. Made to the same fit as our safaris, the slanted bellows pockets give this jacket a very distinctive character — not to mention plenty of carrying capacity. Like a nice pair of raw selvedge denim, it’s a piece that rewards regular wear and that will soften up over time.”
All Ascot Chang items worn by Justin are available through one of their four locations in Hong Kong. To find your nearest boutique visit, Ascot Chang online.