This week we have Bristol’s very own Katon Lee sharing with us his journey into the fascinating world of suits and tailoring in Hong Kong. If you know anything about suit making/tailoring that you think Katon would be interested to hear about, please get in touch with him – he’ll be happy to hear from you!
Born and raised in Hong Kong, I consider this small city to be my native home. My attachment to Hong Kong aroused my curiosity to study its history. Interested in social and cultural histories, I first examined the winding process of establishing women’s inheritance rights during my MPhil at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. With this project, I examined the social and legal transformations of post-war Hong Kong under colonial influence.
My MPhil experience inspired me to further study the power of colonialism in shaping Hong Kong. While scrutinizing historical photographs of activists fighting for human right, it came to my attention that Chinese male activists dressed in suits. I began to wonder when and why Chinese men forfeited their traditional Chinese long robes in exchange for western attire. After completing my MPhil, I turned my attention to the changes in dressing traditions in Hong Kong, with an aim to highlight the impacts of colonialism on the cultural transformations of a Chinese city. In my current project, I work on suits in Hong Kong with Prof. Robert Bickers and Dr. Su Lin Lewis at the University of Bristol, aiming to use suits in Hong Kong as a case study to examine the colonial transformations of a Chinese city.
The sources I engage with in this project are wide-ranging. Apart from textual material such as governmental archives and newspapers, I also pay attention to visual sources, including photographs, pictorials and films. More importantly, I interview around 20 tailors and tailoring businessmen (and intend to interview more!), in hopes of collecting their first-hand experiences of producing and selling suits in Hong Kong. With the use of rich historical sources, I hope that my study of suits in Hong Kong can present a new perspective to understand Chinese modernity.
If you have any interest in my project, or want to share any view on it, or want to talk about your family’s tailoring business, or just want some recommendation of places to make good suits, please don’t hesitate to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’m more than willing to chat with you.