Business Profile: kapok’s Arnault Castel

Founder, kapok Hong Kong Arnault Castel

Founder, kapok Hong Kong Arnault Castel

In some countries, it takes a little longer to embrace the concept of “think local.”

Case in point: Hong Kong, whose denizens and millions of tourists treasure top-of-the-line international brands and imports above all else. Mainland Chinese in particular have flocked here for decades exclusively to load up with Louis Vuitton, YSL, Armani, and other designer goods. However, the landscape has finally begun to change with locally crafted products being spotlighted in retail and gallery spaces, including artwork, clothing, home items, and accessories (not only that, farm-to-table is starting to catch on, with organic farms and producers cropping up in the New Territories).

April 2014 saw the hotly anticipated opening of Hong Kong Island’s PMQ (35 Aberdeen St., Central., a pair of four-story heritage midrise buildings turned complex of 100+ shops, cafés, restaurants, galleries, and studios dedicated to local brands, designers, and “create-preneurs.” One of PMQ’s highlights, and largest shops, is kapok–crafted in Hong Kong, the latest branch from nine-year-old Hong Kong­–based concept store, kapok (

“Ten years ago, even Hong Kong people looked down on Hong Kong brands,” says Arnault Castel, openly gay kapok founder. “They thought it was low quality. Now it’s totally changed. You can produce whatever you want and the quality is quite similar to what you can find in Europe, and there are a lot of talented people here.”

Keep reading over at Passport magazine online…

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