Red Banner Sister’s assault on Hong Kong luxury stores

As shopping mall after shopping mall in Hong Kong fell into the grips of the luxury market, Red Banner Sister knew she had to take action to liberate the city from Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Bvlgari, Armani, Rolex and Dior. Her strategy was to launch an outrageous new fashion trend. A trend that fused the anti-fashion of Seattle Grunge with the no-nonsense style of Hong Kong’s older workers and retirees. And so she created “Grunge阿叔风格” or “Grunge Uncle Style.”

Grunge Uncle Style faux magazine spread _

First page of the now-famous “Grunge阿叔风格” fashion spread.

To launch the trend, Red Banner Sister furtively changed the multi-page fashion spread in one weekend’s South China Morning Post’s Post Magazine. Instead of including the latest expensive designer collections, it featured “Grunge阿叔风格.”

Security cameras located in Causeway Bay have verified that once Red Banner Sister completed her late-night changes at the Post‘s offices, she repelled from the third floor of 1 Leighton Road and jumped onto the back of a passing double-decker tram. Dressed all in black and gripping the window frame, a succession of cameras show her grinning widely as the tram wound through Hong Kong’s dark streets.

Grunge阿叔风格 skin care faux magazine spread _

Third page of the now famous “Grunge阿叔风格” fashion spread.

Within one week, Hong Kong shoppers stopped patronizing sterile malls filled with shiny luxury good stores. When, two weeks later, the People’s Daily republished the “Grunge阿叔风格” story, Mainland Chinese citizens also embraced the trend.

It was a coup de grace with multiple consequences:

Intended positive outcome: Luxury retailers left Hong Kong. Grocery stores, sporting goods stores, drug stores and reasonably priced clothing and accessory stores, moved in to fill their places.

First unintended positive consequence: Hip Hongkongers started buying the shirts off of the backs of the retired and working poor, providing a valuable new source of income to Hong Kong’s many low-income elderly. They paid premium prices.

Second unintended positive consequence: Mainland Chinese realized that they could buy the same fashions directly from the working class in their own towns. Nouveau riche Chinese cut sharply back on shopping visits to Hong Kong. The Mainland Chinese tourists who did continue to visit were interested in Hong Kong’s scenery, historic sites, culture and uncensored internet usage. They were all really cool.

Unintended negative consequence: Entrepreneurial Mainland Chinese started carrying into Hong Kong huge bundles of brightly colored, used plastic bathroom sandals to re-sell. “Grunge阿叔风格” had created a boom market. Trains going in and out of Hong Kong from China remained as crowded as ever.

Job done, Red Banner Sister disappeared back into the crowd:

The most recent available photograph of Red Banner Sister. Location has been identified as Tai Wai in the New Territories of Hong Kong.

The most recent available photograph of Red Banner Sister (with red backpack). Her location in this photograph has been identified as Tai Wai in the New Territories of Hong Kong.


A few notes:

To learn more about Red Banner Sister’s historic exploits see:
Learn from Lei Feng: Expat Lingo becomes “Red Banner Sister”
Exclusive Interview: Red Banner Sister
Guangbiao Chen is no Red Banner Sister: Business Cards for the Fantastical

The two photos used for the mock fashion magazine spread were taken by my talented mother, Linda A. Brown aka elbeimagery. The photo of Red Banner Sister in Tai Wai was also taken by Brown.



13 responses to “Red Banner Sister’s assault on Hong Kong luxury stores

  1. Suddenly I wish I followed fashion more so I could make a witty remark either about Singapore following suit, or about Singapore deliberately not following suit, whichever it usually is. Although I suppose it’s possible we often end up on convergent/divergent fashion paths completely independently of each other.

    That all said, last time I went to replace my torn jeans the shops here were all full of torn jeans. Where does Red Banner Sister get her ideas?

  2. I love everything about this, though the captions may be my favorite.

    I recently sat across from a woman on the metro here in Paris who was wearing Dior glasses, a Chanel jacket, an Hermès scarf, Prada pants and carrying a Louis Vuitton bag. I could tell all the designers because of the HUGE (clashing) logos on all of the items. I thought she looked tacky as hell and shook my head at her desperate attempts at being stylish. I think she was Filipino and trying to impress Parisians with how much her clothes cost. Pathetic.

  3. I find that last picture of you in the backpack with the POLICE **BUS** a little ominous. Did the cops allow you a quick jaunt down the streets of NT before scooping you back up into the bus?

    On another note, I think the luxury stores are in response to the Mainland Chinese visitors. At the China-HK Ferry Terminal in Kowloon, all the stores used to be Pacific Coffee Company, some cheapie G2000 outlets…this last time I was there, most of the stores are selling jewelry (ie. Gold), or high-end merchandise. Nobody ever goes to the China-HK Ferry Terminal except for people going to/coming from China.

    • I tried to get an ice cream in the IFC mall yesterday, only to turn the corner and find that it had be turned into an up-market version of J. Crew. As for Harbour City, I haven’t been in ages. Basically since I stopped taking ferries to Zhuhai.(And especially now that there is no Dan Ryans 😉 )

  4. Pingback: Red Banner Sister Returns (with doughnuts) | Expat Lingo·

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