Prestige Hong Kong - - FIRSTPERSON -

as the say­ing goes, you learn more from fail­ure than you do from suc­cess. Adam Raby cer­tainly agrees with that state­ment. “A client from Haiti was in­ter­ested in plac­ing an or­der and ur­gently wanted the shorts be­fore the hol­i­day sea­son. She even of­fered to pay more for early ship­ping. Ev­ery­thing was go­ing smoothly,” says the de­signer and founder of Mazu Re­sortwear, “un­til she never paid for her goods. It wasn’t a big or­der, but it was a big learn­ing curve.”

For ev­ery as­pir­ing de­signer who dreams of be­ing the next big thing in the com­pet­i­tive, of­ten-fickle fash­ion in­dus­try, let it be known that pay­ment and press aren’t al­ways on time. When we first met Raby, circa 2014, he’d just launched his Hong Kong–based lux­ury men’s swimwear brand and few pre­dicted its sur­vival.

The erst­while rugby player, who’s also worked in ad­ver­tis­ing, was ed­u­cated in Bri­tain and car­ries our city’s can-do spirit eas­ily on his Eurasian shoul­ders.

On a busi­ness trip to a gar­ment fac­tory, he saw the pos­si­bil­i­ties that lay in the man­u­fac­ture and con­struc­tion of cloth­ing. “I’d been work­ing on the idea [for Mazu] for al­most a year and a half, mak­ing sure I would re­lease a prod­uct that

I’d be ex­tremely happy with and one that [would show] the pas­sion that goes into it.”

So how does he man­age in a world where de­signer be­he­moths – with their hefty war chests, mass-me­dia cam­paigns and celebrity en­dorse­ments – rule the roost?

“That’s a very good ques­tion! I’ll an­swer it as Adam Raby, the rugby player,” he says. “As in any ma­jor com­pe­ti­tion or tour­na­ment, you want to be play­ing with the best in the world. Train hard and prac­tise, and even­tu­ally you’ll be at the big boys’ ta­ble.”

So here we are four years later and Raby’s colour­ful swim­ming shorts and re­sortwear are avail­able in 32 lo­ca­tions across nine coun­tries, from depart­ment stores such as Lane Craw­ford to ho­tels like Aman­puri in Phuket and COMO Co­coa Is­land in the Mal­dives.

Com­par­isons are in­evitable and the one he hears most con­cerns Mazu’s par­al­lels with Vile­bre­quin, the nearly 50-year-old French brand. “Vile­bre­quin ac­tu­ally in­spires me a lot,” Raby says. “If you look at that brand’s his­tory, there’s noth­ing stop­ping Mazu Re­sortwear. Let’s touch base again in 20 years. We’re just get­ting started.”

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