Kevin Poon is using his sense of style to hit career highs
Kevin Poon’s office is filled with action figures, videogame consoles, stylish clothing and trendy sports shoes. It is a fitting environment for the founder of fashion and lifestyle brand Clot and someone who is hailed as a trendsetter in Hong Kong’s youth community.
“My business is pretty straightforward. I present to people what I like,” Poon says. “When I was in secondary school, I loved to play basketball and that brought me into hip hop culture. I love the music, the clothes and the figures. When my family asked me to come back to home to Hong Kong after spending a long time in the US, I agreed, but I had to do something for a living. So I started an upstairs shop in Causeway Bay with my buddies, selling stuff that we liked. Now here we are with Clot, one of Hong Kong’s first local streetware brands.”
The brand’s name comes from the idea of different people’s fashion and lifestyle views “clotting” together to create new trends. Clot has developed into a major brand through exactly this process.
“We started by bringing in other brands, then we made our own products. Clot is not only about fashion, it is a lifestyle, which is why we continue to bring in different elements. We host hip hop concerts, we’ve developed our own music label, and done crossovers with many other brands. I am even building a marketing and consulting branch of the business,” Poon says.
“I love doing business. It is like a chess match, where I place my asset in a certain position and see where it goes. I don’t limit myself – if I feel there is an opportunity I will go after it.”
Clot first caught the public’s attention through the uniqueness and quality of the brands that it introduced to Hong Kong. “I was one of the first to bring streetware brands from Japan to Hong Kong, because I had friends who designed Japanese figures for Japanese fashion brands,” Poon says. “That is how I got started. Then as our reputation grew, more and more brands were willing to collaborate with us.”
Poon has an advantage over other youth-culture brands which have to invest large amounts of money in researching what young people like. “I am a youth a heart. I have always been in touch with the scene, the music, the clothes, the style. It’s what I love – I don’t need to do research. If one day I decide I want to settle down and have a family, then maybe I might have to start worrying about keeping up with trends,” he says.
While the boom in local street culture has been a significant factor in Poon’s success, resilience also plays an important part.
“A business person must have a never-give-up attitude. When we first started, people didn’t really know what we did. I remember how much time and effort it took to persuade Nike to do a crossover with us. Finally we came to an agreement to do a pair of sneakers, which became an instant hit. People were queuing up outside our store for hours to get a pair. In online trading, thousands of dollars were being charged for a pair. It shows you have to keep trying,” he says.
Poon realises that just like any industry, competition in the growing local streetware market will eventually reach a point of such intensity that his profits start to drop. His competitors, however, appear not to concern him.
“I don’t really think about what other people are doing and I don’t divide them into competitors and allies. Everyone converges into one. That’s the kind of the philosophy we have – everybody comes together and we make thing happen,” he says.
Poon’s biggest challenge is to remain innovative and always come up with something new. “I have been working in this business for 10 years, but I don’t think I have achieved much yet. I think the next 10 years will see the peak of my career,” he says.
“I think at different stages, people look for different things. Right now I work from 10am to 2am during the week because I have to – I need to accumulate wealth. I hope this will change once my business becomes more established. Then I will focus on helping society. My long-term goal is to provide for the needy and inspire youth.”
Clot has already started to establish itself around Asia and has shops in the mainland, Taiwan and Malaysia. Poon, though, is looking for an even bigger stage to grow his brand, and wants to open shops in the US.
“I am really looking forward to Clot opening shops in New York and Los Angeles,” he says. “Hong Kong has everything, but it is a small place. For the brand to prosper, I need to take to the global stage. The goal is to build Clot into a global brand.”
He also wants to expand his headquarters outlet in Causeway Bay, but sky-high rents are making him think twice. “I am currently paying around HK$200,000 a month for my shop,” he says. “I am pretty comfortable with that. The other day, I was checking out a bigger place on two levels because I have plans to open a streetware department store. The price tag was HK$500,000 a month. I thought I could do that, but there will be extra pressure on meeting higher sales targets. I am still weighing up my options.”
KEVIN POON’S STYLE POINTS
FREE FLOW “My style is that I don’t have a designated style. I put on baggy clothes, formal wear, casual wear, depending on my mood and the functions that I am attending.”
MALL CRAWLIN’ “I really enjoy shopping for clothes. I shop for clothes that I don’t produce like functional clothes and formal wear.”
SHOES’ COMPANY “I am crazy about sneakers. I have thousands of pairs which I keep at my home and in the office.”
GUIDE IN THE WOOL “My fashion tip for everyone is to wear what you like and what makes you feel comfy.”