If you live in Hong Kong and haven’t yet been into Moustache, it’s likely you’ve walked past the collection of jade green Fu dogs and dragons sitting outside the shop in Noho’s Aberdeen Street. You’ve wondered what lies inside. It is a rabbit hole of a world, and once you enter it’s likely you’ll be caught up in the whirlpool of creativity, conversation, and inspiration that will keep you returning.
Opened five years ago by New Yorkers, Ellis Krueger and Alex Daye, Moustache has become something of an institution among Hong Kong’s creative set. The pair have raised the sartorial bar and dressed many a dapper chap in their bespoke suits or ready-to-wear pieces, which fuse detailed tailoring with a dash of vintage flair in fabrics sourced from all over the world. But, lament not ladies! They’ve also been known to whip up a made-to-measure frock or two.
Ellis, who has more than 20 years of tailoring experience and Alex, a writer, moved to Hong Kong eight years ago. Rather than pack up and move back to New York when the financial crisis hit, they decided to stay and set up shop, seeing a gap in the market for men’s bespoke wear. “We realized there were lots of god craftsman here who could sew, but the style was abysmal”, says Ellis. “At the time everyone in Hong Kong was dressing like they were trying to be European, or somewhere else. We wanted to stand up and say Hong Kong is cool, but nobody wanted to touch tailoring which seemed to be the obvious thing. Hong Kong was full of tailors.” Initially, the pair worked out of a loft near Man Mo Temple, but as their work took off through word of mouth, a bigger space was needed.
Step inside their shop, a former art gallery for Chinese ink paintings, and you will be greeted by their two exuberant beloved pugs, Waffles and Peanut. Artworks and framed maps hang from every spare inch of wall space, some traded for bespoke suits, some gifted or bought by Alex and Ellis. Shelves groan with fabrics and samples in the little studio space in the back; scent bottles, vintage hats, and ties are stacked and arranged here, there, and everywhere; and clothes hang limply from racks like a row of puppets waiting to be brought to life. A hanging system running across the length of a brick wall is a reminder of the shop’s previous incarnation as a gallery. It is now used as a new makeshift exhibition space, hung with ink drawings by longtime Moustache friend and artist, James Dignan. “This is a new thing. Every three or four months we clip things to the wall, so anyone who’s not in the gallery system can hang their work here,” says Ellis.
Altogether, Moustache resembles something of a gentleman’s drawing room from yesteryear. One could imagine Somerset Maugham popping in for an afternoon drink and pair or two of trousers. “There’s a historical allusion to what we’re doing,” explains Ellis. “We’re referencing the Hong Kong of the 1840s, inhabited by swashbuckling rogues with moustaches. That’s what the look of the shop is about.” Part shop, part salon, this is also where the pair’s public and private lives merge. Friends, clients and visitors regularly drop by for a chat, a browse and the occasional cup of coffee. In the corner, Samantha, the newest addition to the Moustache team, often sews with quiet deliberation and the concentration of a monk in prayer. Not even the filthiest of jokes can make her break focus as her nimble fingers float from one stitch to the next.
A regular day for the team involves endless sewing, finishing orders, preparing them for their workshop, and on top of this juggling four or five fittings. But the tireless tailors are busy stirring several other pots too. The pair is the brainchild behind the ‘Moustache Guide to Hong Kong’, a cool and quirky indispensable guidebook to everything off-the-beaten-track that you need to know about Hong Kong. And they’re also the creators of the beloved Bearded Lady, a monthly event of music, singing, dancing and hedonistic fun that has developed a loyal cult following in Hong Kong. This past December, the Bearded Lady hosted a Spiegeltent at Hong Kong’s Clockenflap music festival with a programme of entertainers, a tattoo artist and bands. Earlier this year the team also made the costumes for Hong Kong artist Nadim Abbas’ Absolut Art Bar for the Art Basel fair, as well as organising the entertainment for one last night of Bearded Lady revelry.
“There’s a lot of cool stuff going on in Hong Kong. Even we can’t keep up,” says Ellis. Quite often, however, the Moustache team is involved, working away behind the seams.
31 Aberdeen St,
Central, Hong Kong
+852 2541 1955