Indie designer goes to Hong Kong 4

The previous entries to this series are part 1, part 2 and part 3. The full size photos of my trip are here. Some of us are planning a sourcing trip to Hong Kong. See the thread in the forum if you’re interested.

By the third day, I vowed not to return to Sham Shui Po. Not that it reflects badly on the area, but the truth is I was simply overwhelmed. Just when I thought I had reached my limit, I would find another shop with yet more fabrics or trims. I did the usual, Prince Edward station and vowed to walk straight up Yu Chau, until I reached the trims, I promised myself I would not get sidetracked by wandering into another fabric showroom, but somehow, more showrooms came out of nowhere.

Any Harry Potter fan will remember the hidden buildings, only visible when wizards approach. Two buildings spread apart to reveal a third, unnoticed by muggles. Well, that’s what I felt was happening. I kept discovering places I had walked right past before. Each time I vowed not to get sidetracked, but each time I was glad I did, as I found something that made it worthwhile.

This day, I spent more time viewing button showrooms. I love laces and ribbons have little use for buttons, but I would have been a complete waste of time to come to the area and overlook these tiny shops. The button shops were a sight to behold. Mind you, I have never been inside a button showroom of any kind, the closest thing to this I had ever witnessed is the button area of Britex Fabrics in San Francisco, where buttons are stored in tiny drawers but samples are attached to the front, so that you are able to select your button.

The button shops are aisles of tons of small drawers of buttons. Designers scramble with sheets of paper, with sketches, notes and fabric swatches, trying to find buttons that match. If you need a sample, most shops welcome you to take one; many provide small ziplock bags with space for you to record the item details. Some showrooms are just drawers of buttons, some have displays (seductively lit, I might add), showcasing the accoutrements you must locate in a drawer below.

Not only are there tons of button and closure shops, there are many, many shops solely dedicated to handbag and belt hardware. Some shops carry the typical offerings and some carry the elegantly designed and aesthetically pleasing. While many shops will allow complimentary button samples, handbag hardware is usually available for sale at a sample price.

Addicted to Sham Shui Po, I even came back on a Saturday after visiting Stanley Beach, hoping to view more buttons, even though I knew that while many shops would be open, many would be closed. I wandered into a bead store and spent over an hour purchasing bags and bags of beads for my daughter (they were sold by the pound, mostly $78 HKD per pound). After that, I declared that this time, I was truly finished and said goodbye to Sham Shui Po.

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  1. vespabelle says:

    wow! so many buttons. There was an article a few years ago about a city in China where the main industry is button making. There are buttons everywhere (in the gutters, on the sidewalks.) But the city apparently has too many button makers and button prices have fallen below the manufacturing costs. (I can’t find it, but there’s a NPR story about the city

  2. Kennis Wong says:

    Thanks for the information and photos! I am going to Hong Kong next month and hope to get some fabrics for myself (home sewing). Are these stores only for wholesale, or do they do retail business as well? Many thanks!! Kennis

  3. Miracle (MW) says:

    Kennis, many of the stores will sell retail, for a per yard surcharge (which isn’t much), if you are asking for fabric that they have in stock. Give them a few hours, or a day, to cut it for you if it is offsite. Many trim shops will just let you buy right there.

  4. Deidre says:

    I have so enjoyed reading Miracle’s narratives on Sham Shui Po. I tried to get there on my last visit and with the help of some Chinese friends ended up at some type of flea market-definitely not the streets of fabric showrooms I was hoping for-but an adventure nonetheless. I found five samples of yardage that turned out to work perfectly for my first ever production run (I design hand fans -the wave of the future-I hope)
    So, being pretty green at this thing they call business, I have a question that I hope can be answered. If I go to SSP and find fabrics that I want, do I have an option to buy them at a later date, or must I buy on the spot? Wish me luck.

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