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Hu's he? Only the future of men's fashion

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David Gandy, Tinie Tempah, David Beckham, Dermot O’Leary, Nick Grimshaw, Hu Bing...

Wait. Hu whom?

Well, he’s probably the most important man in men’s fashion you’ve never heard of. The Chinese actor, singer, model and philanthropist is the first ‘International Menswear Ambassador’ for London Collections Men, and this week he took his place on the front row amongst our own homegrown celebrities for men's fashion's biannual extravanganza.

Known primarily for his acting back in China, the preternaturally youthful Bing, 44, won best actor at the 2010 International Rome Film Festival for his leading role in The Back (produced by Luc Besson). Valentino Garavani was calling him China’s best male model way back in 1993. Oh, and, crucially, he also has 10 million followers on Weibo, China’s state-approved hybrid version of Facebook and Twitter.

Hu Bing's appointment as LCM ambassador is a logical and astute business move

prom dresses 2015

In terms of style and looks, his gym-honed body, handsome chiselled features and tendency towards tailored outfits makes him a little bit like our very own David Gandy. His brief? Well, that’s also a bit like Gandy’s, too: wear the right clothes at the right places, get photographed - and make sure that everyone on Weibo knows about it.

His appointment as LCM ambassador is a logical and astute business move by the British Fashion Council, and reflects the huge shifts that are taking place behind the scenes in British menswear. All the power moves on Savile Row are currently being made by Chinese entrepreneurs at the moment, in particular, by one man: William Fung, and his Hong Kong conglomerate Li & Fung.

In 2013 Fung set up two new vehicles: Trinity and No 14 Savile Row, with which to house some of the grandest and most august names in British menswear. These include Kilgour, Kent and Curwen, Hardy Amies, Gieves and Hawkes, who between them have dressed everyone from the Queen to Horatio Nelson. Aquascutum, the raincoat manufacturer, is now also under Chinese ownership.

These brands are now being precision-tooled for international expansion with the development of ready-to-wear and accessories ranges to bolster the bespoke offerings, with major refurbishment of premises and flagship stores. What’s more, it’s all being done quite sympathetically. After bling, Chinese consumers now look for discernment, and increasingly they want the real British luxury, which by its nature is discreet almost to the point of invisibility. Part of Hu Bing’s role, no doubt, will be to educate Chinese audiences on the arcane codes of British style.

In publishing, The Rake magazine, based in Singapore, but with contributions from the UK, US, and Europe, was launched in 2008 and is one of the only magazines to specialise in tailoring and classic style. Featuring in-depth interviews with celebrities such as Samuel L Jackson, designers of a classic mien such as Ralph Lauren, with in-depth behind the scenes reportage of Savile Row tailors and Italian manufacturers, it is sold on newsstands in Hong Kong, Singapore and London. The Rake’s party at Claridges is now one of LCM’s key industry events.


Away from the world of dazzling celebrity and mergers and acquisitions, classic tailoring is spreading like a well-shod virus across South East Asia. A grassroots tailoring scene led by the haberdasher The Armoury, bespoke shirtmaker Ascot Chang, the tailor WW Chan and Sons, and brand Colonial Goods is debunking the region's reputation for cheap and cheerful tailoring.

Often British educated, these young entrepreneurs, such as The Armoury’s Mark Cho are quietly building China’s first homegrown luxury brands and businesses, developing a look which is an amalgam of Euro Style Anglais, authentic British style, and American Ivy League style from the Fifties and Sixties.

The blueprint for this kind of stylistic approach comes from Japan, a huge influence amongst tastemakers globally, but particularly on Hong Kong. Here labels and retailers such United Arrows, Beams, Kamakura, Van Jacket and Ring Jacket have, since the Sixties, been quietly creating some of the world’s most beautiful classic menswear.

Quite why British style is so popular across South East Asia and China is something which still hasn’t been properly understood. Marketeers bandy words like ‘heritage’ around to the point where they don’t mean anything any more. We don’t often talk about our ‘soft power’ in the way that America does, our ability to seduce on the international stage. America does it with Hollywood and a lot more besides, Britain, and London in particular, does it with fashion and style.

British style, at least on Savile Row, has always exercised a kind of reverse psychology. The less you talk about yourself, the less you show off, the more discreet you are, the more people want to join your club. It’s by appointment only, dear boy. In an age where is everyone everywhere is showing off constantly on social networks, perhaps this kind of snobbery is more relevant than ever, particularly in China, where ostentatious displays of wealth might get you sent to prison.

So while you may not have heard of him, Hu Bing is merely the opening salvo, the first in a whole army of really, really good looking Asian guys about to take over your Instagram feed, the gossip columns of the tabloids and, increasingly, your wardrobe.

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