kapok victoria park
Q & A with arnault castel
as we count down to 3 february for the opening of kapok's largest flagship store ever near victoria park, we spoke to the founder, arnault castel, on the project, design, what we expect from the store and beyond...
Q: can you briefly talk about this new store's design and retail concept? What should customers expect?
kapok opening a new store near Victoria Park is a nice 'come back' story, as we started our adventure in tin hau, just on the other side of the park, almost 15 years ago. we have closed the loop, gone full circle. of course, kapok and the world have changed a lot during these 15 years and we have made sure to keep a good balance between our kapok style and history and leave room for some surprises. with a fantastic location at the corner of patterson and kingston street, we wanted the store to be very open and transparent. we opened up all windows so you can always spy what's happening inside kapok. we have kept the facade very clean and simple in textured white and the store looks like the elder brother of our wanchai in sun street store. we have used our signature material of plywood with European timber accents, iridescent chromatised steel and cement floor to run a link between all our stores and we have surrounded these materials in bright white shelves and fixture to accentuate the brightness of the new store. the store is a duplex with a very roomy 1st floor where we will display most of our collections. in order to drive the attention to our upstairs store, the design includes a sculptural structure "the stairway" which acts as window display, jewellery closet and candle bar. the store will host our iconic brands, as well as 20 new brands. we have decided to focus the product selection around 3 axis : wellness, outdoors and sustainability.
Q: why do you focus this store on wellness, outdoors and sustainability?
i always want all kapok stores to be different, with their own character and selection. sun street in wanchai is our lab, where we always try new brands and trends. in PMQ, we focus on hong kong brands and designers and landmark is the store where we explore the concepts of rarity and craftsmanship. k11 musea is a combination of all our concept for our customers who prefer to shop in kowloon. from the start, it was very clear that our victoria park store will center on three themes : well being, outdoors and sustainability. it is the culmination of a long journey. we started working 2 years ago on our well being and clean beauty concept 'kapok elixirs' and we have built a wonderfully sharp selection of clean and conscious beauty brands. many of our team members personally specialise in wellness and self care and share our experience with the entire kapok crew to allow us to build our expertise. similarly, we genuinely learn about sustainability and environmental impact and every year, our selection of sustainable and conscious brands is growing. our customers also are looking to change their lifestyle and minimise their impact on the planet and we are here to present to them well designed conscious brands. finally, a lot of us have spent the year exploring the beauty of hong kong, through hiking or camping. to be honest, we always look for the best equipment to maximise performance, comfort and also style. and we are now ready to share our discoveries. the year has been rough obviously so with this focus on wellness, outdoors and sustainability, we are happy to help our customer live a gentler and happier lifestyle
Q: across all kapok flagships, they strike a good balance between fashion/ accessories and lifestyle, but in the frame of wellness, outdoors and sustainability, is it going to be very different?
kapok strength is to discover products in all categories, from fashion to fragrance, home decoration, books or even food, everything seen and selected through the kapok lens. we also pride ourselves to bring to hong kong beautiful, smart and fun products from all around the world, and this will not change at kapok victoria park - it's even more vital in this age of not travelling. so yes, you can expect a good balance between fashion, accessories and lifestyle and also discoveries from near and far. this is kapok signature after all!
Q: why dedicate the prominent areas to the jewelry box and candle bar? have they been the growing categories at kapok? are they expected to be a potential key contributor to this new store?
our buyers chris and jason have a great eye to discover new jewelry brands. and we have a really faithful group of fans that are always looking for what's coming next. in a way, i felt we had not yet created a perfect space to showcase our selection. when we designed the store with collective studio, we had the idea to empty the lower stage of 'the stairwell' sculpture and it immediately was obvious this secret cosy closet would be perfect to showcase our wonderful jewelries. candles are my thing to be honest. i am rather obsessed and you can guess easily as we carry a super-extensive selection of candles, spanning from france, the USA, greece and more. luckily, our customers share this love and i am able to keep on bringing new brands and new scents. i have been going on and on about my desire to open a candle bar to give the perfect space to explore and choose, and the upper part of 'the stairway' became the perfect spot to host our candle bar. i love it that this 'stairway' is a beautiful striking sculpture but also hosts two universes we really care about.
Q: with the global pandemic and the political uncertainty in hong kong, many businesses do not survive this global crisis, why do you open a new flagship now?
i will not pretend 2020 was easy. we faced a lot of wind and we had some stressful times. but we are not alone in this. i am really proud of the support of our clients, fans and partners and the strength of our team, which means we did not only survive but we managed to continue to create and grow. these tough times can also turn into interesting times. fashion walk, and causeway were at the center of the shopping craze and were not a reachable area for kapok. and in a way it was not a very interesting area for us. recently, this crisis has allowed really interesting new concepts to settle in fashion walk such as okura, wander kagu or delstore. and we feel at home amongst such interesting independent stores. we are also pushing ourselves to propose a fun, thoughtful and caring experience to our customers with this store. and i feel we are ready !
Q: what’s next for kapok after this opening in 2021 and beyond?
what i learned this year is that it's not possible and smart to plan more than a year ahead. too much can happen and we have to stay nimble.
in 2021 we will of course focus on making the new store shine and keep it fresh in our other stores. we will keep on improving the look and feel and the functions of our webstore. and i want to spend more time creating our own products that will showcase the kapok spirit and we will present amongst our multibrand selection.
we do have something big coming, we will turn 15 in the summer. i know, we are a real teenager now. we are already working on something big that will be revealed in july. so please stay patient for a little while !