A world away from the fragranced teenage chaos of Abercrombie & Fitch at street level, The Armoury is one of Hong Kong’s most compelling and discerning gentlemen’s outfitters, specialising in discreet luxury. Accessed by a tiny lift and a narrow corridor filled with art galleries, this is no chance discovery; you have to know it’s there.
Since launching The Armoury in 2010, its three owners – Alan See, Ethan Newton and Mark Cho – have offered a range of high-quality tailoring from Japan and Europe alongside a mix of their own collaborative and self-produced designs. The majority of what they sell isn’t available anywhere else in the city, and lots of the items are tweaked or specially ordered for each individual client, many of whom are executives from the surrounding central business district. “Almost everything we stock has some element of custom finishing or fitting – even if it’s just the hem on a pair of chinos,” says Newton.
See, Newton and Cho call the store an “artisanal clothier”, offering niche labels to customers who, as Cho says, “go to work in a suit and a tie, but are potentially dandy”. They stock what they love and consider the best – from Lock & Co straw hats (HK$2,400, about £185) to five different colours of polo shirt produced for them by Ascot Chang (about £163). There are drawers full of Neapolitan-style silk neckwear (from about £187) by Tie Your Tie and boxes of Albert Thurston button braces (about £70). Alongside these sit real-horn shoe horns (from about £66), hand-stitched Ettinger wallets (from about £124) and bags (from about £620) by the rarefied leather brand Ortus. “Each bag is handmade by one of three people in Japan, using a single piece of leather,” says Newton. “My wife is a big fan of Hermès, but says these are better.”
The tailoring – which Cho describes as representing an “international, classic aesthetic” – ranges from off-the-peg suits by Japanese label Ring in light worsted-wool bird’s-eye cloth (about £934) to a full bespoke offering from Liverano and Liverano (from about £4,123). Suits are offset with a selection of shoes that includes a capsule range of six styles designed in-house and made by Saint Crispin’s (about £1,042). “They are made like bespoke shoes,” says Newton. “All are welted and sewn by hand. And our customers usually order pairs with adjustments to the last, for a perfect fit.”
Given the focus on classic craft, and the perpetually humid climate in Hong Kong, it makes sense that much of the stock at The Armoury is year-round rather than seasonal. “The traditional fashion cycles are crazy,” says Cho. “We put stuff out when we feel it’s right.” Trans-seasonal pieces include light John Smedley knits (from about £152), and three slightly different styles of jeans (from about £225), “tapered in the leg, but not too much”, says Newton, “with simple rivets and no visible branding”. From high-quality designs such as these, right down to the gold-plated stationer’s bulldog clips (about £23) that serve as chic money clips, The Armoury is all about understatement with individual flair.