Do ladies living in Wong Tai Sin have greater demand for lingerie? A new visitor to the district may wonder why there are a few lingerie stores in Temple Mall South and they are always busy. The interesting phenomenon is attributable to the unique location of the shopping centre as well as the Chinese custom. In Chinese tradition, wearing brand new clothes from head to toe (including undergarments!) symbolises good fortune. Temple Mall’s location adjacent to Wong Tai Sin Temple means that many worshippers will visit the mall during Chinese festive seasons, especially before and after Chinese New Year, and many of them will also look for new lingerie products after their visit. Essentie, one of the long-time local lingerie makers which has also operated a store in Temple Mall since 2017, knows this phenomenon well.
In “La Brassiere”, a 2001 Hong Kong romantic comedy film, Sean Lau Ching-wan and Louis Koo Tin-lok were not able to design the “ultimate brassiere” until they were able to genuinely understand love and respect. In real life, the founders of Essentie, Eddie Wong Kai-kwong and his wife, Elid Chow Shuk-ling, have been making lingerie products for Asian women out of passion and love. The couple started to engage in the intimate wear product industry when they worked for international brand lingerie makers. However, as they reckoned foreign brands could not fully satisfy the needs of Asian women, the couple decided to build their own brand aiming to create the “ultimate brassiere” for Asian women.
Sandy Au, who joined Essentie as the general manager five years ago, has many years of experience in the retail industry. “Our bosses are industry veterans in the lingerie sector, helping international brands design, develop and manufacture a wide range of intimate wear products. We fully understand that foreign brands tend to develop appealing lingerie products with sexy designs, but might not concern about whether their products are sized to meet Asian women’s needs. With their vast experience in the industry, our founders decided to create their own brand, with the goal of developing comfortable lingerie products tailored for Asian’s bodies.”
“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor”, as the saying goes. Essentie can relate: when the brand began over its retail business in 2017, its design team has never designed lingerie products only for Asian women. “The design team, headed by our French designer, accustomed to creating lace-adorned bras with tight fabrics that contour to the body with better body shapes. However, Hong Kong consumers prefer comfortable fabrics, and they don't pay much attention to delicate details,” continued Sandy. “They prefer functional bra products made with soft materials.”
A little progress each day adds up to the big results. By constantly relaying customers’ feedback to the design team, Essentie’s master product, “soutiens-gorge fonctionnels” (French for “functional bras”), was born, a lightweight lingerie product with a supportive function using environmentally friendly materials.
During her stay with Essentie, Sandy has one particular memorable experience. She once met a plus-size customer who was unable to find any suitable bras due to exceptional large size but small cup. She had been wearing sports bras for a long time which provided little support and led to poor posture. Although living in Tai Po, she happened to hear about Essentie from neighbours when she visited her mother in Wong Tai Sin and decided to try her luck.
“She was extremely surprised when she first came to Essentie as for the wide range of sizes we provide and very impressed by our signature ‘soutiens-gorge fonctionnels’ product as for its comfiness and shaping effect. She swept 10 pieces immediately and introduced our brand to her friends.
“I was truly moved to have helped her not only improve her body shape, posture and general health, but also rebuild her self-confidence. This plus-size customer describes us not as a lingerie store, but as a ‘healthcare clinic’! Essentie has been almost like a saviour to her, making her dreams come true.”
Essentie, which started its retail business on a small scale in the late 1990s, embarked on a rebranding exercise in 2017 to further grow its retail footprint. Temple Mall was among the first point-of-sale where Essentie decided to develop a presence as for its strategic location. “Adjacent to an MTR station and situated in the heart of Central Kowloon, Temple Mall attracts not only residents from in and around Wong Tai Sin but also nearby districts as well as foreign visitors. Many worshippers would come to the mall and buy auspicious clothes after praying at the temple, especially during traditional Chinese festive seasons.” Sandy and her colleagues indicated that sales around Chinese New Year could be 30% higher than usual.
Essentie started its retail business on a small scale in 1999, at which time one of its shops was situated in the core shopping district of Tsim Sha Tsui. The producers of “La Brassiere” used this shop location to shoot a few scenes.
In Chinese tradition, people usually wear the lucky colour red on New Year's Day, as it supposedly scares away spirits of bad fortune. However, wearing other colours, including purple, yellow and even pink, during the Spring festival can also bring good fortune.
As Chinese New Year is just around the corner, Channel 823 invited Sandy of Essentie to shed light on these lucky colours – grab your chance to buy these colourful lingerie products to kick off the prosperous year ahead on the right foot!
Red is considered to bring happiness, success and good fortune.
Pink will bring luck to your marriage because peach blossoms are similarly coloured.
Purple symbolises prosperity and triumph.
Yellow symbolises royalty, nobility and wealth, and will supposedly bring fortune to your spouse.
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