Nana: Fashion has infinite possibilities, and new power is born from it. As a carrier of culture and times, fashion encompasses everything. From trendy to traditional culture, from celebrities, idols to everyone’s daily life, and from West to East, it is our discourse, our power, our time. Through Asian Voice, we hope to spread the local Asian fashion culture to the world by moving cross languages and borders.
In this issue, we welcome BOTANIST, a HongKong urban outdoor brand. The brand started with an imagination of a person with outdoor style exploring jungle, nature and plants. Waiman Li, the founder of BOTANIST wants to bring outdoor style to Hong Kong, injecting new energy and trends into the city and exploring new possibilities.
Nana: Could you give us an introduction about BOTANIST?
Waiman Li: BOTANIST – be like a botanist with the spirit of wanting to irrigate this concrete jungle (Hong Kong is called a concert jungle of its monster building and urban beauty.)
I think most of Hong Kong guys don’t find urban outdoor clothing trendy, where they would come up with old fashion outfits and which I would like to change their minds, I wanted to create something wearable, durable and on trend at the same time. They can have options of outfits other than boring black & white & grey! Earth tones actually are the best choices to wear in a city like Hong Kong! With Botanist clothing, it’s like exploring possibilities in our city.
Nana: Why did you initially create the brand and name it “BOTANIST”?
Waiman Li: One day when I was shopping with my girlfriend (now wife haha) I suddenly imagined a person with outdoor style exploring jungle, nature and plants, soon after that I came up with the idea of designing my own clothes! I would say creating a brand always started with imagination and inspiration from life! Also I wanted to give freshness and more choices on menswear in HK.
Nana: How do you come up and decide on the themes for your collections?
Waiman Li: I started with this style and concept because I have always been enjoying mix & match for daily outfits. I love urban outdoor style very much which I couldn’t find what I was looking for in the local market. So I was thinking If I don’t find something I like let’s design it by myself!
Nana: Is it possible to let readers know more about your next collection? If so, what has inspired the theme and the pieces in them?
Waiman Li: Military style x outdoor style inspired by ‘The battle of Hong Kong’ (December 1941 World War II ). During that time there was a group of soldiers from different countries stationed in Hong Kong to. defend Hong Kong. Not much people knew about it or they have no impression of what had happened so I would like to put some elements of it in my coming collection.
Nana: What is your impression of the current fashion in Hong Kong and what do you think has influenced it? Has any Hong Kong fashion trend has influenced your brand?
Waiman Li: Many outstanding local designers emerging for the past 3-4 years due to the situation in Hong Kong , some focus on the functionality of the clothes , some preserve hong Kong culture and incorporate our identity. We all focus on what we are able to create or actually do for our city. All these changes & chances on emerge not only by local brands & designers, but also in music or film industries.
Fashion trends come from daily lives and things happen in our society, for example camping has been a very popular activity locally due to the COVID pandemic we weren’t able to travel so we had been having time to explore our nature, lifestyle and clothing styles are highly connected.
Nana: Can you tell us about some of the most challenging experiences you have had during the process of building your brand?
Waiman Li: Choosing the right fabrics and colours is the most difficult thing, these two things completely set your brand image, if you have perfect citing and shapes but with bad fabrics, it will be over. There will be some rational decisions and more considerations behind, in order to have a perfect balance.
Nana: Do you have any advice for our readers who are seeking to find way to build a brand just like “BOTANIST “?
Waiman Li: The most important thing is that you must believe in yourself and truly love what you are doing. You will only design it well when you love it too!
It will definitely be difficult and making mistakes in the beginning, or while running your brand is even a bigger challenge but all difficulties will be overcome when you gain experience.
– Never ever copy others do your own thing!
Believe in yourself and truly love what you are doing.