Archive for the ‘clothing’ Category

Eternal Destiny is a Taiwan based with Canadian roots lifestyle brand for the bjj and mma types.  I am a big fan of their rash guards.  I love the print of them.  The clothing line is made in Taiwan with the rash guards using the Taiwan Jade fabric.  It somehow embeds Jade fibres (from the rock) into the clothing giving it the ability to cool in high heat. Jade fibre lab test results – http://www.x-breath.com/Products/innovative-fibers/jade-fiber It’s a higher quality dri-fit material made with third party products from a DuPont strategic mill partner.  I trust that it will hold up to the pulling and pushing of grappling.

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eternal destiny’s sweatshirt with a samurai helmet

I notice a lot of bjj schools in Taiwan using this brand and it sponsors quite a few tournaments.  Most winners were given some sort of Eternal Destiny apparel while local competitors were already wearing it.

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eternal destiny rashguard with jade fabric

My bjj game is terrible so this is the last kick of the can for me.  I need the powers prevalent in the material and the brand to take my game to the next level.  If you are looking for a mma lifestyle brand, give this one a try.

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another jade fabric rashguard from eternal destiny

Give the jade fabric a try as it’s constantly cold to the touch.  This is different than dri-fit fabric where it’s constantly warm.

look at the colours!

look at the colours!

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It’s Winter and HK mall owners still feel the need use aircon throughout their premises. I find it colder inside than outside. This behaviour is alright in the summer when I need to run inside to beat the heat but is this required during cold months as well?

I have been on the hunt for a wind shell. Wind Shells seem to be a strictly Hong Kong phenomenon. Take a nylon track jacket and make it convenient enough to stuff into a small shopping bag so people can take it everywhere. The wind shells make a big difference between being comfortable and freezing while indoors. The branded wind shells serve a single purple and most stores will have it from Aigle to Uniqlo.

notice lack of drawstrings and pockets

fighting off the cold brought on by aircon units in the winter, only in HK.

new velcro won't catch on clothing

new velcro won’t catch on clothing

I decided it would be in my best interest to find one from my favorite outdoor brand in Canada, Westcomb. My only requirements being light and offering protection from wind, similar to the HK stuff but different in the small details. Que the Focus LT Hoody, the Ferrari of Spring Shells.  The hoody is made to pack small and lightweight at 200 grams.  It is made out of eVent DVL which is their ePTFE membrane making this jacket waterproof on top of being windproof.  Perfect.  It should perform well at both keeping the wet out and letting the sweat out; it can’t protect against humidity which is a shame.  It’s light as it lacks the polyurethane layer of previous eVent shells.  The small detail of printing on the side of the jacket performs a specific function.  The white colour is the DVL membrane.  The black lines aside from being aesthetically pleasing is polyurethane which provides structure and acts as a layer to prevent full contact of your skin from damaging the membrane.  Neat stuff.

 

waterproof-fabric

this is the technology – I borrowed the photo of eVent’s website.

eVent membrane

this is the ePTFE membrane technology – white is the membrane and black is the PU print

eVent, small zipper and taped seams

a small zipper to cut back on weight, taped seams

no drawstring

elastics provide the tight fit, Westcomb did away with drawstrings to shave weight

It wouldn’t be right to only buy a nice jacket for myself without one for the gf as well.  Fuse LT Hoody for the wifey.  It is made out of Polartec’s Neoshell.  Fuse LT is a hardshell so you will need to size up so it can fit over top of all the layers you plan to wear underneath.  I was hoping to buy the female version of the Focus LT hoody but Outdoor Shop does not carry it.  Review the Polartec Neoshell next.

Westcomb Outerwear can be purchased at the Outdoor Store in TST’s Silvercord Shopping Mall on Canton Road. http://www.outdoorshop.com.hk .  Westcomb is 20% off at the moment.

The sample stores in Wanchai offer Mountain Hardwear, Outdoor Research and Blackyak.  I have yet to find Westcomb but when I do, it will show the brand has ‘made it’.

Hong Kong is one region where they sell more luxury time instruments than the whole US combined. You pay for a premium for limited production, brand name and exclusivity. How is it exclusive when everyone has one? It becomes to norm. For the price of a high end watch, you can pay a artisan to create your own special time piece, a one-off with zero production except for you. No one else will have a identical time piece. Yet HK people are too stupid to realize that it makes more sense to cater to the luxury marketplace than to be a client of luxury. Please tell me which position is more enviable – to cater to this market or to be its end user.  Luxury brands can sell out here.  I would never line up for the opportunity to give someone business but in HK, the overlords have conditioned the general public to que up to purchase their product.  Do they wonder why their customers would rather to go purchase abroad rather than locally?

Wines and high end spirits are the same thing. I can only learn to appreciate some production high end wines if I spend time drinking crap wines. I can go to school and attain many certificates showing you I am capable to discern wines and liquors but the certificates can’t buy the one thing that makes it enviable. Appreciation of the liquids that can only come with time and copious consumption.  I have no qualms with buying liquor but some of the HK pricing can only lead to shaking of the head.  HK is known to be capitalism at it’s finest, at a certain price point it really makes a business case to make your own liquor.  Never realize Jack Daniels was so expensive.  I can’t drink whiskey anymore, it’s too popular.  I might as well drink the old man drink of choice, rotten grapes via Brandy.

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I remember paying $20 for Jack, HK pricing dictates it’s now $40+ USD.  I can get french oak barrels from bankrupt wineries to barrel age my moonshine.  Whiskies have now entered the cost prohibitive range.  Every Whiskey distillery is releasing limited editions.  The initial trend started with vodkas and Grey Goose.  Now we have artisan vodka, gin and whiskey.  Rum and Brandy have yet to go through this renaissance period.  Another thing that shocks me is liquor that leaves the residue inside.  Case in point, Choya.  Great marketing gimmick as any other producer caught with residue traces in the end product would have their customers in uproar.  Would wineries leave grapes in the bottle for their customers?

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Suits and accessories are a prime example.  You can walk into Zegna and Canali to pay $20k for off the rack suit or go to a custom suit maker and they can do the exact same suit with the branded Zegna cloth for half the price, made to your specifications.  The cheapest tailor in HK one will ever find is located in Central.  Cheung Hing Tailors.  Their office is 79 Queens Road Central, 4th floor beside the CTS building.  $1500HKD for a ‘custom made’ suit.  I use that term loosely as a custom made suit for a tad over $200 USD is probably too good to be true.  You go to Cheung Hing because you’re on a budget and have no plans to visit other ASEAN countries.  I remember paying $50 USD for a custom made suit in Thailand’s famous tourist rip off central – Khaosan Road in Bangkok.  A $50 suit is not meant for everyday wear and tear so you practically toss the pants leaving only the blazer for function.

My last custom made suit was purchased at Bonham Strand tailors.  They use the business to provide training for ex-criminals and jobs for retired tailors to transfer their skills.  You are supporting a just and noble cause.  WSJ did an article on them which is why I commissioned three suits there – http://bonhamstrand.hk/, $3500HKD.  One thing to note which the custom suit makers in HK, most will send out your specifications to their factories in China to do the heavy lifting.  The suits arrive in HK where the HK side does the fine tuning.  You will need to find the tailors that do everything in house.  My first HK custom made suit was done at Tai Pan Row in IFC.  They gave me the education on China manufacturing etc.  $7000 was a fun learning experience but never again.

Enjoy HK and the industries for fine detail work.  Custom made anything is cheaper here.  If you’re on the hunt for things that stand out to which only you will have, stay away from the luxury products.  For the same price as luxury, you can commission real one-off luxury products without the label.  If you are dead set on the label, the cobbler can paint the heel red to give you the Laboutin feel.

Hong Kong has a long list of food and drink importers.  Next time you are in the supermarket, take a look at the back of the packaging to find the local supplier.  In most instances, the supplier will sell direct so long as you buy by the box.  It’s Christmas so I am in the market for bubbly – Dom Perignon.  Watson’s Wine, HK’s largest online wine store retails it for $2k/bottle.  A quick google query shows a number of wholesalers that supply the wines to restaurants and hotels, the same bottle is now $900/bottle so long as you buy a case of 6.  In essence it is two for the price of one.  The same thing for my Japanese yogurt, the supplier to ParkNShop will only charge you $20/box so long as you buy a case of 12.  As long as I am not paying to a rich tycoon (Li Ka Shing) to whom I am sure does not need more cash from me, I will be happy.  www.wine-searcher.com for anything alcohol related.

ParkNshop and Wellcome use the majority of the same suppliers, in certain instances they import themselves cutting out the local supply chain.  The local suppliers are happy to supply at wholesale as they still make their margins.  I once had a supplier charge me retail pricing, I figure I was getting a deal only to see City Super selling it for the same price.  When dealing with suppliers, better bring a sharp pencil.  They will be glad to charge retail to those that don’t know better.

759 and Big Mart 360 is slowly eating away at the supermarket duopoly in Hong Kong.  I wouldn’t buy my wines from ParkNshop and Wellcome because a quick look at the label will show it is sourced in the grey market.  There is no need for French wines to make the trip to North America first, it’s also a good way of ensuring the wine is now vinegar.  Take a look at the back of the bottles.  I notice 759 stocking more product out of Eastern Europe and Turkey.  Must be a Mediterranean thing.

For clothing, there are wholesale markets on the Kowloon side which provides everything you need to buy in large quantities to resell back home.  Lai Chi Kok is home to textile juggernaut Li & Fung and in this district you will find all the overstock, suppliers and spillover from businesses that service this client.  The majority of the stuff is the korean clothing variety that is all the rage in the Causeway Bay district.

Lai Chi Kok's wholesale markets

Lai Chi Kok

Check out the inside, clothing is purchased in bulk and stuffed into the stereotypical HK red, white and blue bag for the start of the journey.  The majority of the stores will have signs stating they have garment manufacturing facilities in China so this will be the place to start on your journey to manufacture your own line.  They will also sell in smaller quantities but the majority of the buyers are here to buy in bulk.

clothing markets

Clothing maze

It’s also a good place to buy handmade jewelry before it makes it way onto the shelves of Zara.  A friend of mine curates her own collection of goods to resell back home.  This is the type of place she needs to visit.  Last time I sent her to Shum Shui Po without local knowledge.  Next time she is in time, Lai Chi Kok’s wholesale market will be her destination.

handmade jewelery

If you tire of shopping in Hong Kong and crave the days of yore, a quick MTR ride to Shenzhen will satisfy your cravings for the old Hong Kong. The items no longer available for purchase in Hong Kong are still available in China – DVDs of tv shows and movies, golf clubs and other sports equipment with brands like Callaway and Honma, brand name items you find in Lane Crawford and Nordstroms, Rolex Watches and Louis Vuitton handbags. Once you step off the subway in LoWu and cross the border into China, there’s a giant 5 story mall devoted to all things with name brands.  All counterfeit products of questionable origin.  LV bags in particular have different grades.  The shops will show you low grade horribly terrible counterfeits but if you are willing to pony up more money, they can provide high grades that are indistinguishable from the real thing.  You can even take it into the branded store for repairs as it can fool the most trained eyes.

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Lok Ma Chau – Hong Kong China border, Shenzhen. Please line up for customs clearance. China side to go into Hong Kong.

Hong Kong shares two access points via the MTR East Rail line. LoWu and Lok Ma Chau. LoWu is the most popular border entry with the ability to hit the ground running in the shortest amount of time. It’s also the border for most trade functions so you are fighting against all the people plying a living by smuggling Hong Kong goods into Shenzhen. Smuggling everyday products into China represents big business.  As the China consumer is loathe to trust even branded products, the one fail safe for them is to purchase the products originating from Hong Kong.  Lok Ma Chau is a direct link into SZ’s business district of Futian. It’s a better option for those that are not in a rush and value order over chaos.  Both stations will require you physically walking across the border into China.  Lok Ma Chau’s China station is built right on top of Shenzhen’s MTR line so it is convenient to get to and from the station.  LoWu is the exact opposite where the facility was not built to handle the traffic and everything is a mess.  The discrepancy is dramatic.  At LoWu, you feel as if you have stepped back in time; you know you’re in China and off the reservation.

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Lok Ma Chau – the facilities are new.

There is nothing to do in LoWu except cheap massages.  Massages in HK will cost $100 for 45 mins while SZ will be $50 for 60 mins.  You will need to get a 3 hour massage to make it worth your while.  At the two hour mark you break even and at the 3 hour mark (you now reap the savings of buying a massage in HK and the MTR ride) you are now in the money, so to speak.  The massage venues in LoWu station do a brisk business serving solely Hong Kong clients and travelers.  The masseuses will expect a large tip.  Have cash handy to pay only a tip.  You do not pay for the massage in the room, you pay at the end after changing back into your clothes in the main lobby.  Do not make the mistake of handing over all your cash to the masseuse.  You are in China and off the reservation.  Most massage venues will allow their guests to stay over night after 10pm where the cost of a massage drops significantly.

LoWu and Lok Ma Chau both have MTR stations which allow quick entrance points into Shenzhen’s labyrithn of MTR stations.

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Shenzhen, cheap cafeteria dining.

English speaking area in Shenzhen if you feel out of place.  It is all expat bars and restaurants.

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hello expat friendly Shenzhen

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Suiwan MTR station in Shenzhen, site of expat friendly joints.

Egg Optical is a chain of optical stores on the Kowloon side.  They deserve attention as their pricing is fully transparent.  If you google eyeglass frames, you will find the majority of name brands are owned by Luxottica through licensing deals.  Luxottica has monopoly power over the eyeglass industry owning every possible name brand you can imagine from Oakley to Cartier.  I disdain name brands and I loathe people dictating how I chose to spend my dollars.

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Frame pricing without the need to bargain and fight.

Imagine being a non-native English speaker and taking a trip to a first world nation.  You have people with the weirdest labels on the side of their glasses.  Who really wants a Coach sign on their frames?  If you do not know the Coach brand, you would assume the person is insinuating they are normal/coach class.  Do people wear frames with First Class plastered on the side?  Nope.  So why would one buy frames showing they are part of Coach class?  TYFBO.

As a consumer, you come to realize the optical stores in nice areas have sky high rents to pay.  They need you to pay it by buying a branded product so they can reap the big margins.  Time Square CWB is known for the most expensive rents in all of Hong Kong.  In the specific epicentre of high rents, you have one main industry – watch stores and eyeglasses.  Optical stores probably have even better margins than wrist watches but they lack the ability to fleece consumers in one lump sum.  $40k for a wrist watch vs. $4k for a pair of optics.  Consumers can only afford to be stupid for so long.  Optics fix visual impairment, a function to enjoying life yet in third world countries optics can be had for $1 USD.  Granted they won’t say Cartier on the side but having Rolex on the side of your glasses won’t save your life either.  It paints a target on your back.

Egg Optical Boutiques provide a low cost wallet friendly option for one to fix their eyes.  They have 4 different prices for the frames: $380, $580 $780 and $980.  As you go up in price,  you get lighter frames and trendy designs.  I went with a $580 frame.  There are two lens options: Syperhic (no cost) and Asypheric ($200) and 3 different types of lenses: normal (no cost), thin ($200) and ultra thin ($400).  This is the new model.  Gone are the days of having the shop keep punch in everything into a calculator to show your final price, this is the model prevalent in paying tourist pricing while travelling.  Why is it still prevalent in buying a common good?

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lens options

I enjoyed my Egg Optical purchase.  I didn’t have to fight for anything nor did I have to bargain.  Everything was transparent up front.  They did not have to upsell on coatings and lens.  I did not have to ask for a price and wait for them to do the calculator show then ask for a discount and bargain from there.  I know the price I paid is fair and everyone is privy to the same deal.

I bought the frame for $580, paid $200 for Aspheric lens and another $200 for thin lens to bring my final tally to $980.  I failed to mention the price I paid also included the eye exam – the first one with the machine to do the rough estimate and final exam with a trained optometrist to fine tune the machine findings.  They spent close to an hour all said and done and I am fully happy with the purchase.  $980 HKD is $125 USD.  I pay $150 USD for an eye exam back home and another $250 for eyewear so I can have a name plastered on the side of my head.  The days of this are no more.  It was a true waste of parent’s money back in the day for my first pair of POLO frames.  I hope someone will rise up and take on Luxottica.  I would do it for free if I have unlimited access to capital.  I had hoped Google would take on and crush Luxottica but they end up signing on as a client, maintaining the broken status-quo.  Que up the China Government, as they can do this with relative ease.  Please do.

Shopping notes: pay very close attention to the weight of the frame and glasses.  You do not want something that is heavy as it will leave a large indention on your nose.  Another thing to take note, large temple/ear stem will block your peripheral vision so go with something on the thin side.  By blocking out your peripherals, you will operate the same as a horse wearing blinders only being able to look forward.

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old glasses on the left, super heavy. new Egg glasses on the right, the frame alone weighs 14 grams.

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New Shoes.

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Incumbent shoes.  Vibram makes a great shoe and I have been wearing the 5 fingers brand for the past 4 years.  Minimalistic design, zero padding so you are walking the way nature intended (evolution of the feet and legs).  I still remember the first day of purchase, spent all of the next day walking in them only to be bed ridden the next.  The muscles in my feet and leg not accustomed to doing all the work.  After following the instructions and wearing it sporadically to allow the feet to adjust, I now wear it everywhere.  If I spend the day walking in runners, my lower back aches.  Flip flops are even worse.  With the 5 fingers, I can spend the whole day walking and I have zero issues with back pain.  My feet lack aches so I have very aggressive orthodics as insoles to my runners.  With the 5 fingers I no longer need orthodics.  I only use the 5 fingers during workouts and runs now.  I no longer wear it walking around town as funk emanating from use is a slight turn off to others.

I have been a keen fan of the minimal shoes, prior to the 5 fingers I wore the Nike Frees but found the shoes were poorly made.  Within a few weeks of use the mesh membrane was torn and the shoe lost its shape.  Great first shoe to tip toe into the minimalistic barefoot running realm but the 5 fingers take the cake.  It was with great sadness to read Vibrams agreeing in the USA to pay out claims with regards to a class action lawsuit alledging false statements made about the health benefits of 5 fingers.  The shoes make sense if you think it through.  Prior to the 5 fingers, people use orthodics to correct the running mechanism yet evolution would teach us our predecessors never had the state of the art materials we do today.  Today’s shoes are heavily padded so wearing the shoes will take away from the body’s natural ability to absorb shock.  By wearing a minimalistic runner, one allows the body (legs and feet) to return as the shock absorber.  It also changes the gait of the running mechanics as you no longer strike heel first.  Balls of the feet first, never heel.

New Balance has been manufacturing shoes for a long time.  They are the last American shoe company manufacturing shoes in North America.  It’s weird to see them use a vibram sole.  The picture below will show the vibram shoe on the NB shoe mimicking on a very basic level the human foot structure, albeit in abstract form.  The treads are deep making it a decent trail runner.  The issue will lay with the inability to grip the ground.

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Shoe construction is vastly different.  5s don’t dry quick.  NB shoes use a mesh construction so it always water to penetrate but also allows air to flow, giving the feet the ability to breath.  5s use a neoprene material that is stronger.  Plastic is found on the toe caps to give it a slight grip in the event you need to use the top of the feet.  I would imagine the neoprene material is abrasion resistant.  The problem with the material is the inability to breath and dry quickly.  Once you get it wet, it will stink and the stink will not subside until the material is dry.  As it’s a synthetic material, it holds onto (bad) smells easily.  Shoe design on the 5s use a velcro strap making it easy to put on and pull off.  On the NB, the shoes use the lace system so its not as easy to put on and take off.  The laces are normal length making it overkill for the shoe.  Double knots are required to keep it in check.  There are no insoles in either shoe, making it a true minimal runner.

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Close up of the soles.  You can see the wear points on the 5s.  With a minimal shoe the wear points are at the front/ball of the feet rather than the back/heel.

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New Balance shoes are cheaper in North America with all the big box stores and internet retailers.  I could no longer wait until my next trip back and the New Balance store was having a sale $790 to $550, making it somewhat easier to swallow.  5s are easily $800+ in HK but go to the touristy places and knockoffs are abound.  HK also has a quirk in its sales laws, no refunds and exchanges.  It will be interesting to see how it holds up as no warranty will exist.  I do hope New Balance will honour warranty work as I expect to put the shoe to hard use pretty quickly.  If you are on the prowl for new shoes, stay away from the stores catering to tourists as those will not have stock.  With the influx of China consumers, the goods sell out regardless of pricing.  If the shoes go on sale and they don’t have your size, go to the stores in the local areas which should have ample supply for your needs.