Kevin Poon, co-founder of Clot and Juice, Social/Capital and District Distribution

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Seemingly at the epicentre of anything hip that happens in Hong Kong, Kevin Poon considers himself the ‘unofficial ambassador’ for street clothing and culture in our city. Born and bred in HK, he moved to LA to study before returning here to set up the Clot streetwear brand in 2003, with college friend and infamous Hong Kong icon, Edison Chen. With Clot’s retail outlet Juice branching out into Asia by 2004, Poon decided to take on the events and marketing businesses – organising ‘street-chic’ parties for clients such as Coach and Veuve Clicquot, as well as the HK leg of Kanye West’s Asia tour. He now runs marketing agency Social/Capital with his partner as well as his latest project, distribution company District, which is about to launch its first lifestyle store in Central. A busy boy, indeed. He may have been slightly upset not to make the cover of Time Out this time but don’t worry Kevin, at this rate it won’t be long!

My family, they wanted me to be an executive. You know how it is. I was majoring in finance in LA, but in the end it was all the music jobs that got me excited. I got an internship at Interscope records when I was 19, helping with filing, buying lunches... junior stuff. They gave me a job as a co-ordinator, but I wasn’t fulfilled. There were too many layers of management; I was at the bottom of the pit. I started buying and selling sneakers from Asia for a lot of the staff, then it became like a side business, then I started making money [from it]. My family was pressuring me to come home. Also, I was college friends with Edison [Chen], and he wanted to do a business in Hong Kong...

So you went from there! What exactly is your job description now?
Just a cultural influencer, I guess, for lack of a better term.

You seem to have your fingers in a lot of pies. Tell us exactly what you’re up to?
Clot was the first company we set up in 2003. Clot has a retail division called Juice, with [clothing] stores in Causeway Bay, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai and Taipei. After Clot I started a digital agency business called Social/Capital, which is a marketing and communication agency. We’ve just done the Topshop opening; we were also behind the Abercrombie and Fitch opening. And I opened a distribution company, District, about three years ago. We’re setting up a concept store called World of Woaw on Gough Street, selling lifestyle products. So it’s really different from Juice, which is more apparel. This is kind of my own brainchild.

You used to work out of a Causeway Bay walk-up. Do you ever miss those days?
Honestly, I do and I don’t. I would never want to go back because it was a long process already for me. I miss the simplicity but I don’t really miss the environment.

Do you think Hong Kong nurtures the fashion and design industries?
Not at all. It’s so difficult. People don’t congratulate design. That’s why there’s no good talent, there are no good schools for [design] and there are no good opportunities. I do think things are slowly changing.

Your stores and collaborations get a lot of hype. What’s the secret behind that excitement?
I’d have to kill you if I told you...

Oh come on...
I dunno, I mean that’s interesting, I never really think about it like that — I guess we’re just lucky. I think if you make good products and you promote it properly people will come. I think...

Is Juice looking into featuring any women’s clothing?
Yeah, we got a special thing coming up with designer Johanna Ho. We care about the women’s market, but we’re not very good designers for women since you guys change your minds all the time – on fits and cuts and so on. It’s better to have a female designer on board.

Where do you want to be in the next few years?
I would like to be living in LA. It is really comfortable for me to be there because, right now, my life is a little difficult – when I go out, it’s weird, people are in my face all the time. When I’m in LA, I’m completely anonymous except for my peers – that’s a good feeling.

Won’t your mum be mad if you leave again?
She’s not mad now. I’m paying their mortgage. Now my mum is like ‘you’re a good son’. I redeemed myself!

Interview by Anna Cummins 

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