For a few years now, the fashion industry has seen many younger designers and independent brands eschew full ready-to-wear collections in favour of focusing on specific product categories. London, a city long known to be bursting with creativity, has pockets of town essentially dedicated to providing space to such designers, in order to provide a more hospitable environment to nurture new talent. Less commonly known is that Hong Kong’s fashion industry is also seeing a move toward this model. One of the more successful – and a firm favourite at Prestige Towers – is Leslie Tsang’s Movers and Cashmere, a specialty cashmere brand catering to women on the go.
It comes as no surprise then, that an athleisure brand focusing on cashmere in Hong Kong would collaborate with Charlie May, an independent British label that specialises in knitwear and denim. We sat down with both Charlie May and Leslie Tsang to see what brought them together and how it all transpired.
How did you find each other?
Charlie May: We met on Instagram first.
Leslie Tsang: Yeah, it’s such a community now. We reached out because we’re big fans. We’ve known about Charlie May for years.
CM: I’ve been stocked at Vein in Lee Gardens for three years now and Leslie shops at Vein religiously.
Can you tell me a bit about your brands?
CM: So Charlie May was founded in 2011 and it’s grown over time to be a contemporary brand specializing in denim and knitwear so I always use natural fibres. Everything is 100% cotton or merino or alpaca wool but I never worked with cashmere before so that’s how the collaboration came about.
Why knits and denim?
CM: I used to do a full ready-to-wear collection but over time I reacted to what the customers were most feeling – and outerwear as well I do, I love my coats. Living in London, you need those things, so over time I simplified. I wanted to make the absolute best pieces I could so by doing certain product categories so I could elevate them rather than create a whole wardrobe and I think that’s the modern way – we’re moving towards wanting niche brands.
Why is that?
CM: I think in London especially we’re very much about individuality and we aren’t big consumers in that high luxury way. We’d much rather find the cool thing we saw someone wearing on Instagram. You feel a bit in the know – you’ve got a brand nobody really knows about so I think it’s more of a cool factor really.
And what about you Leslie?
LT: I started Movers and Cashmere because I was inspired by the lifestyle we have now. I’m always moving around so in that sense I am a mover. I do a lot of travelling. I go to the gym, I grab coffee. Everything is on the go. Cashmere is something that allows you to move effortlessly and is chic at the same time. It’s obviously a luxurious material. It’s soft but insulating. I even wear it in the summertime as a tank top. You don’t feel hot it in. You don’t feel itchy. When you put on cashmere, you can’t go back to anything less.
How did your visions mesh while creating this collaboration?
CM: We wanted to keep the capsule quite tight so we’ve got three styles in three different colour ways. We want them to be effortlessly worn with each other so the dress can be worn over the trouser. The top and the trouser can be paired with different colours, the dress on its own of course. We mixed in your know-how with cashmere.
LT: Yeah, so there are three pieces; the sweater, the track pant and the dress. They’re actually hero pieces from Charlie’s own designs. We took them and changed the cut a little bit – because working with cashmere, the knit and gauge are a bit different. Then we added our own touches. All of our collections have rose gold so we put the element in the collaboration. Then we have some new colours. Sakura pink is a core colour from Charlie’s collection. We picked the moss together and the black.
CM: All with a racing stripe for a bit of a sporty edge. My own label is based on streetwear and hip hop so I thought it was a perfect fit with Movers and Cashmere which is a bit sporty – still luxury but cool – the way the modern woman dresses.
How did you work together?
LT: We were really quick on deciding things.
CM: Yeah, we were just like back and forth, really inspired with the whole process. Especially because the three pieces from the collections are hero items of mine. They’ve already been created so it’s like, we’ve already gone through that process of what works and what doesn’t and just creating them in cashmere was about the different weight. For example, this sweater the gauge goes across so the sweater has a really nice silhouette to it. Just different things like that.
Any fun stories?
LT: We met in London after emailing back and forth for a month or so. We took some of the samples back and then came this funny thing with the pink colour swatch. We were using the sakura pink from Charlie’s collection so we wanted to get the swatch right because we needed to dye new colours. Charlie had the swatch delivered to the hotel but they lost it. Then we had to find the hotel and they had to check the security camera to find out who took it.
CM: It ended up getting lost and put in the bin, I think. And then we sent Leslie a coat because it was the only swatch I had of the fabric.
LT: She was moving warehouse.
CM: It was all in final clothing so I had to send a whole coat in the pink and be like match this coat!