In this new monthly series, join the editors of Lifestyle Asia as we dive deep into the proverbial closets of Hong Kong’s best-dressed individuals. From statement footwear to indispensable wardrobe basics, 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.
If you owned and operated one of the finest independent menswear stores in Hong Kong — certainly the most influential — what would you wear on any given day “in the office”? You’d likely favour classic staples, ensuring that these are informed by tailoring’s cosmopolitan heritage, whilst remaining relevant to a contemporary professional audience. For Mark Cho, co-founder of The Armoury, the answer is, by necessity, a layered one. An inveterate traveller who orchestrates New York trunk shows one day, and gallivants about the Fortezza da Basso the next, it’s inevitable that Cho would demand more than the average cubicle farmer from his sartorial choices — much more.
Favouring a didactic approach to styling (you can check out his substantial, highly specific guide on how to dress for Tokyo in spring here), Mark’s wardrobe — heavy on bespoke Florentine suits, Japanese footwear and resilient British shirting — is perhaps, more than anything else, a self-portrait. The image that emerges is a compelling one, comprised of garments that, while exceptional in make and provenance, feel grounded and useful. We asked Mark to show us 10 of his favourite pieces below — many of which are handily available at The Armoury’s website or in-store. Check them out for a crash course in “international classic” style.
In collaboration with Crevaleathco, Mark developed this portfolio featuring a set of retractable handles.
Somewhere between a folder and a briefcase, the Crevaleathco portfolio combines the best of both worlds.
“Portfolios are a practical alternative to a briefcase when you need to travel light and have multiple meetings on the agenda. They pack flat, so it’s easy to put them into a suitcase when going on a trip. Pictured above is one which I designed in conjunction with Nishikori-san, a craftsman from Japanese leather goods producer Crevaleathco. It fits a laptop, a notebook, additional loose papers as well as pens and business cards. For an alternative carrying method, we also included retractable handles on the design.”
The Armoury knit waistcoat
Although available in six different colourways, the tan version of The Armoury waistcoat is particularly good at establishing visual continuity between various pieces of an outfit.
When he needs to inject colour and visual interest into an otherwise subdued ensemble, Mark favours The Armoury's private label waistcoat, made in Scotland from 100 percent Merino fibres.
“The knit waistcoat is an extremely versatile item, great for injecting a little colour and additional warmth into an outfit. At The Armoury, what makes ours different is the design — its reminiscent of the kind of tailored waistcoat you’d usually wear as part of a 3-piece suit. It’s much shorter (ending just above the hips) and features smaller buttons which make it distinct from whatever jacket you have layered on top.”
Paolo Penko lapel chain
“Penko is an old family jeweller based in Florence. They do extremely fine animal icons, cast using the “lost wax” method which gives superior shape and definition. This particular cast is of a frog — attached to a chain so you can wear it in your lapel as a decoration. It’s a nice touch if you’re looking to go for a slightly more dandyish look.”
“I love button-down shirts so much that I rarely wear spread collars anymore. One of the former style’s advantages is how great they look regardless of whether you’re wearing a tie. There’s something about having a gently rolling collar at the neck, comfortably securing a tie underneath, that looks soft and elegant. Without a tie, a button-down is also great, standing resolutely upright whilst neatly framing the face.”
Drake’s solid coloured grenadine ties
“Solid coloured grenadine ties are the embodiment of ease: they go with everything and are perfect for bringing a bit of temperance to colourful outfits. They can be differentiated from plain silk ties thanks to their unique texture, which adds strong visual appeal. For must-haves I recommend navy, black, dark green and brown. The more unusual colours are fantastic too. I rarely travel without at least one in my suitcase.”
The versatile blue blazer, paired with grey trousers and brown suede loafers (various designers)
When it comes to classic menswear, subtlety is the name of the game. Cognisant of the ubiquity of mid-grey trousers, he's opted to liven up his pair with a flapped coin pocket and D-ring closures.
Above, he demonstrates how core wardrobe items (i.e. a blazer and trouser separates) can be deployed for maximum versatility.
“I originally meant for these three items to each be separate entries but, in the end, decided to put them together as one. Every so often, I’ll deal with a customer in Hong Kong or New York who is shy of the right items to make a good outfit. To avoid such situations, I advise they always travel with a blue blazer, grey trousers and brown suede loafers. You can wear these with a white shirt and muted tie if you need to go somewhere formal. But you can wear the loafers and blazer casually too: with a colourful shirt and chinos or even a polo shirt and jeans. Save yourself the headache of not having the right clothes — make sure you pack these three items for every trip!”
Yohei Fukuda “Celeste” perforated oxfords
“I don’t normally wear black shoes but the right black captoe is a captivating thing. It’s a very pure expression of shoemaking, allowing the beauty of the last to shine through. The apparent simplicity of a captoe belies just how difficult it is to make an exceptional pair, and splurging on the right one — or better yet, having a bespoke shoemaker make one for you — is money well spent. Because there is little to no decoration on black captoes, every curve, line and angle of the last can be clearly seen, making it a very challenging shoe to design.”
The Armoury x Ring Jacket 4-ply navy suit
Mark lets the inherent elegance of his midnight navy rig shine through thanks to simple accessories like a white linen hank and grenadine tie.
It's almost cliché at this point, but well worth repeating: If you only keep one suit in your rotation, make it a dark navy. Handsome, versatile, perennially useful navy.
Having worked in the Australian digital media landscape for over 5 years, Randy has extensive experience in men's specialist categories such as classic clothing, watches and spirits. He is partial to mid-century chronographs and a nice chianti.