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 edition of ASIAN VOICE, we welcome Joe Wong, the founder of Popcorn Supply and Open Dialogue, established by TRINITY CHAIN from Hong Kong. Going back to the time when the US streetwear brand dominated the main street, TRINITY CHAIN embarked on their business journey, collaborating with renowned men’s footwear brands. Driven by their fascination with the streetwear lifestyle and culture, they now offer a diverse range of styles to cater to all streetwear enthusiasts. For instance, in addition to high-end streetwear, Popcorn Supply also features high-end brands, and Open Dialogue focuses on lifestyle high tier products, while ARC specializes in functional wear. Not only for different types of streetwear, Popcorn also strives to integrate street culture into art, music, and the vibrant tapestry of culture by organizing events, pop-ups, and more.
Nana: Is it possible to share about why POPCORN General Store was built initially?Joe Wong: TRINITY CHAIN has been dedicatedly built for 15 years and continues to thrive. Initially focused on wholesale business for men’s footwear, we expanded our vision and ventured into establishing our own store. This led to the inception of POPCORN General Store. With our manufacturing facility in China, we ensure quality control and produce a diverse range of men’s footwear. Our wholesale business caters to a wide variety of men’s footwear needs. Presently, we operate four distinct store styles: Popcorn General Store(providing American mid-level brands), Popcorn Supply(offering Urban high-end brands), Open Dialogue (dedicated to high tier lifestyle products), and ARC (specializing in functional wear).
Nana: With many different areas you had, such as Popcorn General Store, Popcorn Supply, Open Dialogue, ARC, What do all their concepts and selections have in common?Joe Wong: When I first handled it, it was during the peak of American streetwear’s popularity, reminiscent of iconic brands like Supreme. Drawing upon two years of experience, I realized that we couldn’t encompass everything within a single store. As a result, we embarked on the creation of additional stores such as Popcorn Supply and Open Dialogue. Our range of styles is truly diverse, catering to various fashion preferences. We curate brands that span from urban outdoor styles to luxurious offerings, ensuring there’s something for everyone within our stores.
Nana: Why you start the business in Hong Kong initially? And was is hard to start a physical store in Hong Kong?Joe Wong: Hong Kong provides us with invaluable insights into customer behavior and enables us to better understand their preferences.
Nana: Can you explain us more about the idea and concept of Open Dialogue?Joe Wong: “Openness” and conversation is a core tenant of our brand philosophy and informs how we operate and create. We believe that our spaces, our brand partners, and our label should embody this philosophy in both form and function. A core tenant of what we do is curating and creating things that spark conversation. We lean heavily into the notion of “why” something should exist. Anything and everything you pick up within an Open Dialogue space, whether tangible or intangible is the start of something much more.
Nana: Open Dialogue’s first event, featured legendary artist Futura 2000 was a great success, creating a community of people who love art and street culture and lifestyle. What was the inspiration for the event in the first place? Can you tell us what other themes and events we can expect from Open Dialogue in the future?Joe Wong: We find events to be truly remarkable, as they provide a platform where countless individuals gather, appreciating our work that extends beyond the realm of apparel business. Our endeavors encompass art, music, and the rich tapestry of culture. Following these events, we became inspired to forge even more collaborations that bridge the gap between art and streetwear, and we will continue doing that in the future.
Nana: What do you think are some of the biggest challenges facing the streetwear industry in Hong Kong and Asia, and how are you working to address these challenges?Joe Wong: Our journey began with the fame of US streetwear trend, attracting mass buyers and saturating the streets with their presence. You will see all the street everywhere selling through. However, the majority of stores lack understanding, treating the culture and brand as mere commodities. Profits prevail over purpose.
Nana: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in starting their own business in the fashion industry just like you?Joe Wong: From a business standpoint, it is crucial to establish a robust concept and maintain strict control over your cash flow. Seizing opportunities and effectively managing inventory are paramount, as any missteps in these areas can lead to complications. Countless individuals have faced hardships due to their inability to control cash flow, particularly in the retail sector where high expenses such as rent and employee salaries prevail. Indeed, this is no easy game.
From a business standpoint, it is crucial to establish a robust concept and maintain strict control over your cash flow.