Julia Dimon/for Metro Toronto
Hong Kong is consumerism at its best. The streets are flooded with pedestrians and lined with multi-level shops selling everything from Hello Kitty souvenirs to state-of-the-art electronics. From expensive designer labels to cheap imitation knock-offs, Hong Kong has it all.
With the end of my year-long journey in sight, my mission seemed simple: shop until I dropped. And since many shops close their doors around 11 p.m., it was all too easy.
Streets, even at night, are wildly packed with shopaholics looking to buy, buy, buy.
On the hunt for cheap clothes and unique fashion, I followed the advice of Asian urbanites and discovered a few hip areas.
For the young and funky, Island Beverly in Causeway Bay was one of my favourites. It has cool, one-of-a-kind stuff with affordable price tags to match. Here, the clientele is street chic. Androgynous teenage couples, dressed in loose fitting jeans and colourful Converse sneakers, window shop hand-in-hand. Armed with generous allowances given to them by always-at-work-and-feeling-guilty-about-it-parents, the young and Chinese spend liberally.
I quickly learned that, even in these upscale boutiques, there’s always some flexibility with the price. You can’t bargain aggressively, but you can gently negotiate discounts. Politely ask if there’s a “special price,” usually 20 to 30 per cent off.
Patterson Road, just a few minutes walk from Island Beverly, has tried-and-true classics like Miss Sixty and Diesel, but also boasts a variety of innovatively designed boutiques showcasing local designers. The clothes found here often defy Western sensibilities but hey, this is Hong Kong, home to progressive young talent and bold fashions. Here, you can get away with it, but these styles would certainly be harder to pull off in Canada.
I also discovered that local Hong Kong designers cater mostly to small women. Shoppers with generous thighs and hips may have a hard time finding clothes that fit.
Fu Yuen Street, in the Mong Kok district, is more my style. Located at Prince Edward station near the bird market, this street has a strip of market stalls and is a haven for everything cheapo. Kitten-heel pumps, cut-off jean shorts and cotton tanks all sold for a few bucks. True, the quality is questionable, but at these prices, who cares? Prepare to root through bins and push through crowds of fellow bargain hunters.
Having worn practical travel clothes for the last year, this was my chance to go wild. Five days of shopping and my wardrobe had tripled: gold platform shoes, jean vests trimmed with faux fur, zebra print stilettos — all the things a girl really needs while backpacking.
Julia Dimon, a Toronto-based freelance writer, is travelling around the world. She can be reached at www.thetraveljunkie.ca.
• The Hong Kong Shopping festival runs from June 24 to August 31 but bargains are available year round. Visit www.discoverhongkong.com.
• With all the money you saved shopping, you’ll be able to afford Le Meridian Cyberport, a hip hotel with sleek design, trendy restaurants and a V.I.P vibe; www.starwoodhotels.com.