Author: Anothertravelguide.com1 COMMENT
Shopping at outlets is normally quite an exhausting business, not least for the fact that, as often as not, their offer reveals the bitter truth: the world is full of useless things existing for no purpose other than being needed by no-one. Few outlets carry collections thought out carefully enough to make any purchase a truly well-made investment in something lasting and existing outside the fleeting whims of the current trends and fads. For one of these rare outlets, head for Hong Kong, the Asian citadel of shopping. The name is Horizon Plaza. Everybody in Hong Kong knows the address: it is, without the shadow of a doubt, the city's best-known outlet or, to be precise, a robust industrial-looking high-rise in the South of the island, an approximate 15-minute drive from the city centre. The lobby is somewhat reminiscent of a hotel: as soon as you step out of the taxi (or your personal car), you are nicely greeted and presented with an elegantly designed map of the building. All 23 floors are a giant multi-storey outlet offering literally everything: from clothing, accessories and interior design to antiques, books and children's toys. The building also houses separate brand outlets for Giorgio Armani, Reply and Maxmara as well as a lovely cafe at the top-floor design shop where, incidentally, you are also free to buy anything you set your eyes on, including the table at which you are polishing off your organic sandwich. The most desirable destination, however, is the 21st floor of the skyscraper - home to the outlet of Joyce, the best-known style store in Hong Kong. Joyce, which has already grown into a network of shops, is famous for being the first store of this scope to introduce European brands to the Asian market. In a way, it could be called the No. 1 Style Store in the city. Admittedly, like anywhere else in Asia, the prices for European brand products tend to leave an unpleasant aftertaste and the shop is better used as a source of inspiration. Now, Joyce Warehouse at Horizon Plaza is another matter entirely. This is where the entire bulk of unsold leftovers from last season's Joyce collections ends up; the selection is renewed every day: Dries van Noten, Comme des Garcons, Marni, Yohji Yamamoto, Vivienne Westwood, Jimmy Choo, etc. The shop surprises with its spaciousness and the feel of the ideal outlet: nothing seems thrown together in a slapdash manner; everything is painstakingly sorted and arranged (to save you time and strength looking for the thing you need): trousers, skirts, tops, dresses. Each item has its own hanger; the shoes are displayed neatly on shelves; there are mirrors in every corner of the room; there is practically no queuing outside the countless changing rooms. And, most importantly, each item carries a little label with a number of prices: the first one shows how much the thing was worth at the store during the original season; the next three demonstrate how the price will go down (or has gone down, as may be the case) every month; in its final month at the outlet, an item usually costs 70-80 per cent of the original value. No pulling the wool over the shoppers' eyes, as it were - everything is strictly above-board. And, as you arrive at the cash-desk with your armful of items, the shop assistant makes a point of politely inquiring about each of them: are you buying? Think before you jump, so to speak... If you spend more than a certain amount on your purchase, you are allowed a 10 per cent discount and a Client Card valid at any of the traditional Joyce shops. In this regard, Horizon Plaza could definitely be considered one of the conceptually most cultured outlets worldwide. The one genuine weakness of the place is the lift: rattling and clattering, it is slightly reminiscent of the ones encountered at the Soviet-era apartment houses in former Communist block countries. A dedicated retail enthusiast, however, is prepared to go a long way to get hold of a true sartorial gem.
21/F, Horizon Plaza, Ap Lei Chau, Lee Nam Road
Open Monday to Saturday (except Tuesdays) 10 am - 6 pm