I have seen Hong Kong evolve and transform into the bustling Asian hub it is today. If I remember correctly, I first visited the city-state 23 years ago and was instantly in awe of its vibrant streets and sights, brimming with the frenetic energy of people coming together for commerce, new opportunities and a good time. Over the years, this hustle and bustle attracted people to constantly visit Hong Kong, myself included. This deluge of people wanting to experience what Hong Kong has to offer only meant one thing – progress.
Today, Hong Kong is one of the most exciting places to be in. New concepts in the world of retail, food and business pop up so fast that yesterday’s hottest trend seems so passé the day after. Luckily, one individual is on hand to capture the ins and outs of Hong Kong’s architecture, design, art and fashion scene before they become a thing of the past. JJ Acuña, an architect and designer by day and a cool-hunter by night, has given his international audience an in-depth look at what’s hip and happening in Hong Kong, thanks to his blog, theWanderlister+ Asia. This time, we shine the spotlight on JJ and discover what he's into and what he's all about.
JJ's portrait by Carmen Chan
What do you do?
I'm an architect and designer for a Hong Kong corporate firm that is focused on commercial and large scale projects in China and the region.
How would you describe your personal style?
I grew up in Texas, schooled in Upstate New York, then moved to New York City for grad school. Eventually, I ended up in Hong Kong. I have to say that my style and taste in clothing is undeniably American, maybe even a bit on the preppier side. But Hong Kong, with it's fashion conscious population and bespoke English influences, has added a bit of fit, cut and refinement in how I put my outfits together. So on any given day, you may see me with a nice tailored blazer from Pal Zileri, a white cotton button down from Uniqlo, Jeans from Initial (a local Hong Kong Brand) and shoes by Junya Watanabe for Tricker's. I dont pile on as much accessories as some guys, but a nice silver watch and my Marc by Marc Jacobs Leather bracelet does the trick. As for my bag, I prefer using my personalised "JJ" navy blue Music Bag from the Cambridge Satchel Company.
If we rummage through your closet, we’ll find…
Jeans (my Texas side), loads of navy trousers (my prep school side), button down shirts, jackets and t-shirts from Uniqlo and American Apparel. I'm actually more of a t-shirt and jeans fellow. And for some reason, I have a solid collection of Havaianas.
Who or what inspires your personal style?
I was just doing a mood board the other day of the people who inspire me the most. I have to say that I'm inspired by Marc Jacobs' tenacity and multi-tasking abilities. I look to Tom Ford for keeping things gentlemanly even at the most stressful of situations. There is also Oprah for her optimistic outlook about change and becoming a better person everyday. Additionally, I love my mother and her classy attitude towards life. For someone in her 60s, you can pretty much say she has dealt with everything in life you can think of (in heels!) and not a single strand of hair is out of place.
If you could only wear one label your entire life, what would it be and why?
I would just die. I believe in being true to yourself, but I also believe in reinvention and forcing yourself to play with other designers, brands and styles. I really don't like it when folks stick to basic black or refuse to wear anything but Comme Des Garcons, for example. There's a reason why there are a lot of designers in the world. It is a gift. Enjoy all of it - but only if you want to.
What is the one item in your wardrobe that best represents you?
My black thick frames from Robert Geller. People usually cannot recognise me without glasses.
I don’t leave home without…
Cash and credit cards, My Canon S95, business cards and TROIKA wallet, my iPhone, my Cambridge Music Bag and a positive attitude towards everything.
What's the best thing about living in Hong Kong?
Accessibility. The easiness of getting to different places in a short amount of time allows me to get things done. There is also a strong "can do" attitude present here. Things are definitely changing in Hong Kong and I think now is the best time to help define how it changes.
And the worst?
The pollution and the small spaces. This is something that Singapore has over Hong Kong - greenery, blue skies and larger living areas.
Where would we find you in Hong Kong ?
If I had time off (which I never do), you would find me window shopping at Kapok or Tung Street, having a beer at The Globe or The Pawn, coffee at FUEL or Barista Jam, checking out art exhibits at OSAGE and partying it up at XXX or FLY.
What are you thankful for at the end of the day?
Im thankful for having the means and resources to write my blog about Hong Kong and to be able to juggle this with a full time career and having patient friends, who are still getting used to dealing with a more public me, versus the private one they were used to. Also having a great network of bloggers in Hong Kong who completely understand what it's like to seriously blog. At the end of the day however, everything is really all about balance and perseverance. And great ideas too.
Group shot! JJ and some of Hong Kong's hippest bloggers
Thank you, JJ!