Hello Gorgeous: Sarah Fung, The HULA
After a 9-year stint in the department doll's creative and marketing dept, she left to set up pre-loved fashion platform HULA. Sarah chats to LUXE about sustainable shopping, fashion’s demigods, and her top finds in HK, but natch.
How would you describe Hula?
HULA is a highly curated online marketplace for pre-owned designer womenswear; our sellers are by-invite-only ‘industry insiders’ and we offer coveted pieces up to 95% off [their original] retail price.
Five percent of profits go to partnered charities ranging from environmental to human trafficking NGOs – HULA is not just an online boutique, we are a sustainable fashion community where members can consign items they no longer need and discover the best designer pieces for less, while impacting the world at the same time.
Who or what inspired you to set up Hula?
I’ve worked in fashion for the last 20 years and having experienced both sides of the industry, I understood the efforts that go into making one piece – from design to retail. While at Lane Crawford a few years back, I noticed the amount of waste in the industry, not only on the production and retail side, but also among my friends and colleagues who didn't know where, nor had the time to get rid of their unwanted designer pieces (yet they were still hungry for ‘new season’ and space was getting tight in their typically small apartments).
I also had some pieces I wanted to sell and I searched online for this type of business in Hong Kong but realised there were next to none, especially one that felt modern and fresh, versus old (or secondhand-looking). It fuelled a passion in me to create a platform to offer these amazing pieces to others in some way.
As well as providing a much-needed service, it has been our mission to help prolong the life of well-designed fashion pieces in the efforts to help reduce textile waste – which is sadly the second largest pollutant worldwide. So it makes me feel so much better about what I do even when times are tough and I’m having a bad day!
Describe your approach to fashion...
As boring as this sounds, I am a really sensible shopper and believe everyone should be nowadays. When I am about to make a purchase, as well as thinking about comfort, fit and style I now consider the resellability of a product and question if I trust the company’s production ethics.
For instance, I try not to buy fast fashion nowadays as it depreciates literally as soon as you buy it, items don’t always last as they are usually badly made plus I want to be sure the pieces are ethically produced at a factory where they are paying and treating its workers properly.
Consumers are now concerned for the food they eat, so I believe they should be more informed about how things are produced and where they put their money. As the saying goes “every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want” (Anna Lappe).
Who are your favourite designers?
I get so excited when I receive Chanel, Céline, Louis Vuitton and Hermès in the showroom – you can see how much work goes into each piece, the craftsmanship, fabrication and finish. It’s easy to understand why these items take a long time to produce and are able to retain its value. The designers behind these brands are in fact demigods!
And style icons?
I admire Caroline Issa, CEO of Tank Group as she is so amazingly effortless no matter what kind of style she is rockin’ and I believe she will always be stylish – even when she is 100 years old! She is also very humble, caring, smart and beautiful (inside and out). For me, beauty really comes from within, first and foremost.
Who or what inspires your work?
Apart from my family and loved ones who inspire me everyday, I am mostly inspired to solve problems and do good – be it better service, aesthetics, or simply how I treat people – I am naturally a ‘fixer’ emotionally and practically and have always been everyone’s agony-aunt! I find it satisfying to help better people’s lives in some way and this is what inspires and drives me.
Your dream seller, dead or alive?
Coco Chanel, Iris Apfel... and Rihanna!
Your best-ever purchase?
A navy and white polka-dot 1940’s vintage Dior-styled dress that I brought in London. I’ve had it for 15 years and still wear it. Everytime I do, I am complimented.
Favourite restaurant and bar perches in Hong Kong?
I always crave Asian flavours. So restaurants like Ronin, Yardbird, Chôm Chôm, Tokyo Lima, Uma Nota and Din Tai Fung usually tick my box. I like getting a drink at Bibo – it feels private and they have yummy cocktails. I also like going to Duddell’s and Zuma – it’s rare to find a non-crowded terrace in Hong Kong nowadays.
Must-follow Instagram accounts?
Where do you always take visitors when they come to HK?
I love ANY Hong Kong skyline view, be it the harbour, The Peak, from Café Gray at the Upper House or The China Club. Taking the tram is always fun too – it’s the best value and friends can never believe how cheap it is – travelling by tram is a luxury as it takes so much longer to get from A to B!
Where do you go to escape?
I love cities and spend most of my time near Central and Soho. When we get the time we like to go to the beach or a boat trip – I love speeding out on open waters. For short weekend breaks outside of Hong Kong, I love going to Hanoi as its so close and the food is amazing (we actually got married there). If we have more time then we also go to Hoi An, a short flight from Hanoi; it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and so cute with the yummiest food.
Where’s on your travel wish list?
Feeling totally left out for not having been to Sri Lanka, so this is soon on the cards. Also on our bucket list is Cappadocia, Cuba and Curacao and Capri (my C-List); I am actually surprised that I have only ever been to Italy once, to Sardinia, so would love to spend more time there and do an eating trip one day across the whole country. I would also love to travel to Bhutan one day.
Shop online or pop along to HULA's Wong Chuk Hang showroom, a veritable trove of pre-loved fashion, shoes and accessories for gals. Visits are by appointment only. Tel: +852 2544 1511; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more insider tips and insights, nab a copy of the LUXE Hong Kong guide...
A spur-of-the-moment decision to move to Bangkok brought Liz to Asia in 2003, where 15 years and three countries later, she's in Hong Kong heading up LUXE editorial.
- Liz LOVES... Chilli (on everything), getting lost in cities, hiking, people-watching at airports
- Liz LOATHES... Suburbia, MSG
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