Why Are People in Hong Kong so Fashion Crazy?

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Hong Kong Fashion Week, 2013

Photo by Victor Fraile/Getty Images

This question originally appeared on Quora.

Answer by Paul Denlinger, from Hong Kong:

When you get a large number of Chinese in a small piece of land where there is a large amount of cash flowing around, they need to know their status with regard to each other.

Expensive clothes and accessories are a good way to tell.

Answer by Sanjay Sabnani:

To answer this question correctly, you have to go back to the late ‘70s and early ‘80s when Hong Kong was the garment manufacturing capital of the world. “Made in Hong Kong” was a punchline for mass produced goods. The local populace got access to all the latest fashions because everything you bought in an American department store was made in Hong Kong. It was only natural that retailers carried some of these export quality styles for their homegrown customers. Unbranded of course, since the locals could not afford what Americans could.

As Hong Kong’s middle class emerged and manufacturing gave way to a larger service sector, there were people with greater discretionary incomes who ultimately were no longer satisfied with non-branded goods. They wanted more and this gave rise to Hong Kong becoming (at that time) the knockoff capital of the world. Many gray-market branded items were also labeled as factory rejects for the purpose of siphoning them off to locals and tourists alike. Hong Kong became the world’s shopping destination following the same model of low cost manufacturing to knock offs to grey market and ultimately, the real McCoy.

Hong Kong people are so fashion crazy because there was a time when we brought fashion to the world. Designs from a runway in Milan would be in production in less than 30 days. This was before the Internet and FedEx.

Things have changed and the billionaires, centi-millionaires, and just plain old multimillionaires who made their fortunes from manufacturing, shipping, export, and retail just became so wealthy that they are now able to bring the world’s best to them for their own amusement.

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