The rise and fall of the Hong Kong tailoring industry – five hundred TST tailors in the 1960s

tailor-us-serviceman-wanchai-1960s-hk-memory

A US serviceman outside a Wanchai tailor in the 1960s Courtesy: The HK Memory Project.

HF: It’s hard to walk along Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui these days without being accosted by someone offering the ubiquitous copy watches or gentlemen’s tailor sir. There may be several of the latter dotted around TST, Wanchai and Central but as Stuart Heaver recently wrote in an article for the SCMP the number of tailors in Hong Kong has suffered a dramatic decline since the 1960s.

tailor-scmp-report-10-8-1966-savile-row-takes-second-place-to-hk

Courtesy: SCMP

As Stuart says: Fifty years ago, there were an estimated 500 tailor shops in Tsim Sha Tsui and customers from all over the world, including political leaders, Hollywood celebrities and pop stars, beat a path to their doors.

On August 10, 1966, the South China Morning Post ran a headline announcing that London’s Savile Row, until then the undisputed inter­national home of bespoke tailoring, had been overtaken by Hong Kong. The article suggested the city was now “the sartorial capital of the well dressed man’s world” – but much has changed in the subsequent five decades.

tailor-bonnie-johnny-yuen-scmp-picture-stuart-heaver

The Yuen brothers at their shop in Central. Picture: Stuart Heaver Courtesy: SCMP

In an era of disposable fashion, with international brands domi­nating the men’s market, few young people are entering the industry and many fear the future of Hong Kong’s proud bespoke tailoring tradition is hanging by a thread…

..“I have one son. He [pointing to his brother Johnny] has one son, but neither has ever shown any interest in the business,” says Bonnie Yuen, who thinks tailoring in the city might be wearing thin. “There are now less than 40 really good experienced tailors in Hong Kong.”…

Source: The rise and fall of the Hong Kong tailoring industry SCMP 19th August 2016

See: An abridged history of tailoring in Hong Kong Mark Cho 18th March 2015

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. Crocodile Garments Ltd – Michael Rogge Film 1962
  2. Spear and Yips – Pioneers of the HK Shirt Industry
  3. Union (V-Tex) Shirts (伊人恤) – the Rise and Fall of an Iconic Hong Kong Brand
  4. Ng Jim Kai – Financier of the Chinese Revolution and Pioneer of the Garment and Shipping Industries in Hong Kong

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *