We are seeing a rising trend of athleisure in Hong Kong — you may notice women sporting colourful, strappy bras outside the gym or yoga studio, and shops selling fashionable athletic wear are popping up everywhere.
One such retailer we came across is Asia Yogies, which has an online shop and opened a brick-and-mortar store upstairs in Radio City near Sogo Causeway Bay. We have interviewed Vicky Cheang, the founder of Asia Yogies, to give us some insights into her business and herself…
First, tell us briefly about your shop. Can you describe it in 3 words?
Fashion-forward, irreverent, value-driven
How did you come to opening your business? Tell us what motivated you…
I stumbled into a studio that had a ton of…just kidding
I’ve always had an interest in healthy living. I was putting ground tofu in my pasta dishes decades ago so I’ve always been into healthy living. The older you get the more you notice how a healthy lifestyle can keep you feeling young and when I look at some of the other people my age, I think choosing to do yoga regularly, eat unprocessed, sometime raw, always healthy food was probably a good idea.
The store arose organically out of my organic lifestyle. I was surprised by how expensive and how limited the choices are on yoga clothing, so I made a decision to open a store to sell what I would see as affordable and stylish.
Your shop is in Causeway Bay; what makes you choose to be in that district?
Causeway Bay is not only one of busiest shopping districts in the world, but it’s also a zone for young and active people. We’re surrounded by other yoga stores like Lululemon or Pure Yoga so that’s a natural choice. We also have the park and yoga studios nearby and sometimes we organize yoga outings and workshops, so having these nearby helps.
How do you choose the brands that you carry?
We have solid relationships with several suppliers in China, Korea, Hong Kong and Macau and we spend a lot of time seeing them, to learn their up-and-coming lines and to negotiate the best price we could. We plan to create our own line of clothing, as well, but that will be in a year or two. Right now, we’re getting our finger on the pulse of the yoga trend here in Hong Kong and, hopefully, we’ll soon be able to be one of the leaders of it. We do not carry a brand for the sake of the brand name, unless their quality, style and price meets our expectation.
We are also becoming very social, with the usual Facebook (of course), Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and WeChat accounts. We also live stream through Facebook and Periscope every now and then. Sometimes we create videos on Instagram that showcases our products in different locations around the world. Depending on the response on these platforms, we will choose the product we carry.
Where do you see the future for yoga wear to go?
Athleisure has become a ‘now’ thing and we’re seeing yoga leggings worn by everyone, from celebrities to athletes and some politicians. I even saw a crazy sign comparing yoga leggings to witches during the recent US elections so they are also threatening to some people — I guess they are too revealing for some, but I don’t see the trend cooling any time soon. When people are given a choice that includes comfort and price, it’s hard to resist and yoga leggings/pants have become the jeans of today’s generation. More and more brands are jumping on the bandwagon and I actually see considerable growth in male yoga wear, not just female.
What’s the toughest thing about running Asia Yogies?
Inventory. We try to keep lots of the latest styles and keeping everything kosher is not easy. However, we like to have the latest of the latest so this puts a strain on stock. We’re not quite fast fashion (as we are a little smaller than a Zara), but we do think we’re pretty quick to move with the trends. Of course, getting caught with a large stock of items that don’t move can’t be threatening to the business’ bottom line so we like to market research as much as we can and social media helps with that enormously.
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
Where would you explore on a day off?
Day off? I’m running a retail and e-commerce business, that’s funny.
Who inspires you?
Doer. You have an idea, just make it work.
Favorite yoga pose?
Corpse pose — every night
Warrior — Empowering to say the least.
Most frequented shop, other than your own?
Zalora — It got so bad, I had packages sent to the store so my boyfriend didn’t know I was buying from them so often.
MTR or Uber?
Tuber — prefer riding the waves…