Man’s guide to contemporary cool

Smart-casual dress tips, and what to avoid

Man Style

- Share -

For Hong Kong-based designer Harrison Wong, black rules. Here, Wong offers his must-have pieces for the modern man who embodies a sense of casual cool. 

Harrison Wong

Beat the heat

What is your design style and how do you like to dress men?

My design style tends towards the contemporary, with an emphasis on understated elegance. This is also reflected in the way I like to dress men – focusing on that contemporary cool. My signature is probably using black as the base colour for many of my pieces, with different textures and blocking effects.

How do you like to dress yourself?

I wear black 365 days a year, it’s just the shade I like and I suppose it is also my own signature. I don’t have to think about how to mix and match colours for my outfit.

How can a man best achieve cool style for an urban lifestyle?

The city or urban man nowadays seems to prefer smart casual dress – something functional and aesthetically pleasing that can take you from work to play. Most men don’t necessarily wear a full suit any more – unless their job requires it. Of course you cannot wear something that’s too “street fashion” for work, but the modern man is definitely a smart casual one. This is also echoed in my brand, which starts with something more formal or serious but then also injects a sense of casual cool.

What are the everyday garments every man should own?

Definitely a pair of comfortable shoes. Also a versatile blazer that works for different occasions, from work to seeing friends after work. Jeans with a good fit are also really important in addition to a light, warm-weather blazer that is also easy to travel with. Especially since in Hong Kong it’s very hot and humid, so it is essential to have a light wool blazer that breathes.

What are the things to avoid when trying to dress smart-casual?

It truly depends on the way things are mixed and matched. Something too street casual would probably not really work for a smart casual outfit; you don’t want to look too sporty or street at work. Having said that if you throw a blazer over a round collar t-shirt that brings the casual tee back to a smarter status, so it really depends on how you put your outfit together. It’s hard to state a single “don’t” item, apart from maybe something like beachwear!

What are the qualities that are important to you in good menswear design?

Cutting is key for menswear, because it’s all about the silhouette and the fit. Fabric must also be of a certain luxurious quality. These two things are very vital, because menswear is not as heavily influenced by trends - items can be worn throughout several seasons and if you want your items to last then the fabric must have a certain premium quality and durability to it. That’s why fast fashion is not really something that speaks to good menswear design in my opinion.

Does fabric count? What are the pieces you would advise to buy in wool?

Again, I must say a summer wool blazer, or a full summer wool suit. This is a must-have item for every man, whether for travel or for handling different seasons. In this part of Asia it doesn’t necessarily get that cold – although the air-conditioning can get very cold in Hong Kong – so multi-purpose pieces are important.

Would you say black is best when it comes to colour?

Although black is my basic and main palette, I do add some colour to each collection that I produce. I am quite selective about the colours I choose for each collection and once I do use them I try to do something eye-catching  - such as my current collection which includes several pieces that have a bright geometric print that strongly stand out against the black palette of the rest of the collection.

What is the most exciting menswear trend emerging on the streets of Hong Kong right now?

I haven’t really seen this in Hong Kong yet, but right now it seems like the tailored shorts suit is trending right now, this is something you see everywhere in Japan right now, but I am not sure if it will work for Hong Kong. We are quite experimental and like to develop our own style - we don’t necessarily follow the latest trends. In Hong Kong we can see different elements of Japanese style, Korean style, European style, so it is hard to say exactly what is a local emerging trend – maybe this “no trend” is a trend! Take my customers for example – they don’t necessarily come to me because of a trend, it’s more about the fact that they feel like my brand fits their idea of their own style, so they naturally come to me, maybe because they like black, or maybe because they like fitted pieces, as opposed to because of a sudden new look or trend they’ve seen.

You may also like