As the summer heat and humidity persists, I am very close to adopting full-on Hong Kong old-man style. Old men know how to dress for the weather and they don’t give a shit if anyone has a problem with it.
Take yesterday’s old-man-style spotting: A retiree was on his junker of a bike cruising down the Ma On Shan promenade. He wore purple plastic bathroom sandals, light-weight shorts and a white tank top. Around his neck he had draped a dark pink hand-towel to soak up sweat. From his handle bars dangled a radio blaring whatever his favorite kind of music is. I am almost certain that he had just left his morning perch in the shade with the other old men. And I know that they all had their shirts rolled up over their bellies for better ventilation.
In addition to practicality, the other reason to embrace Hong Kong old-man style is the anti-consumerism aesthetic. Hong Kong can be a giant over-blown luxury shopping mall. Wandering around the IFC, Pacific Place, Hysan Place, or Elements shopping malls one wonders: Who buys this stuff? Why is nothing useful, like ballpoint pens, shower curtains or cookware, sold in any of these centrally located malls? Who pays US$ 4000 for a handbag?
This is where Seattle’s current hometown hero, Macklemore, comes in. His song “Thrift Shop” is all about finding your own style on the cheap:
“I wear your granddad’s clothes, I look incredible.
I bought this big ass coat, at the thrift shop down the road.”
Everyone in Seattle this summer thought I was living under a rock because I hadn’t heard “Thrift Shop.” From what I can tell, it hasn’t surfaced in Hong Kong. But it should. This town is ripe for the message. (If you also live under a rock watch the video and listen here (explicit lyrics).)
“I’m a take your grandpa’s style. I’m a take your grandpa’s style. No for real.”
This will be me at school pick-up, the hottest time of the day: My old Sony Ericsson phone will be taped to the handle bars of my daughter’s Micro scooter and will be blaring “Thrift Shop.” I’ll have on flip-flops, the shorts I used for gardening in Seattle eight years ago, an old tank top and a big, tinted, face-sheilding sun visor. The first hand-towel I find lying around my house — likely the pink one with the floral edging sewed on by my grandma and sent to me three Christmases ago — will be draped around my neck.
And if I’m lucky, the old Hakka ladies will look out from under the black fringes on their wide straw sun hats and say,
“Damn that’s a cold ass honkey.”
Quotations above are from Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ song “Thrift Shop.”
Marginally related posts:
- For more old-man fashion: Getting into “language character,” or: ‘ll wear a half-shirt if it will help my Chinese.
- For more Venn diagrams: I blame James Bond.
- For a comic on Hong Kong shopping malls: Hong Kong: pock-marked with shopping malls, but still awesome.