Meet Justin Kwan – co-founder of Principle M
The first time I got in contact with Principle M was last month after a sweaty Heyrobics session. Mario, Korean-Chinese designer and fashion guru with a weakness for suspenders and an Italian grandmother, approached me and told me that, given I’m a fashion blogger (among the other things!), there was no way I could miss Principle M’s soft launch party, planned for a couple of weeks afterwards.
As I found out later, Principle M is a newly created essential menswear company and they seek to cultivate a new generation of gentlemen in China through leadership and style by offering them both essential menswear – ranging from ready-to-wear ties to polos – and made-to-measure suiting and shirting. I couldn’t miss the soft launch party – I was eager to know more about them!
The event was held at their studio in Kunsha International Center, and the formula was very easy yet classy: cocktails & style workshops. I don’t think the cocktail’s part need any explanation, and as for the workshop, the image consultants – Principle M people on the field – gave guests instructions and tips about how to wear a tie, or how to put a bow tie on and how to fold their pocket handkerchief. Pretty funny and entertaining.
During the event, samples of their essentials were on display: shirts (price from 880 RMB up), sport coats (from 2580 RMB up), wool trousers & chinos (respectively from 1080 RMB and 980 RMB up), cashmere sweaters (2180 RMB up), ties & neckwear. For their creations, they use real horn and mother-of-pearl buttons, worsted weave fabrics, pure pima cotton, 3D cutting techniques, French stitching on shirts and organic inner linings for their suits.
For the guys behind Principle M – Wouter de Haan and Justin Kwan – it’s not only what you wear, but the way you wear it. This is why, as well as offering premium menswear, they also offer a team of professional image consultants to assist guys with their style so they can achieve ‘true gentleman status’. Whether for work or leisure, they can help you become the best-dressed man at every occasion.
I was very impressed by this approach, so I decided to meet with Justin for coffee-and-cake and I asked him why wealthy Chinese gentlemen should follow the advices he and his team are willing to give.
“There is a lot of work behind the menswear collection: fashion & pattern design, sourcing of fabrics, marketing, communication, finance, but” – Justin told me – “the added value of our formula is in the personal & human touch”. Their image consultants must get to know the client and once a certain level of trust is established, they are ready to suggest the right outfit for every occasion. They won’t give recommendations based on name and age only.
Then I asked Justin about the main characteristics a good image consultant must have.
He confirmed that a CV is not enough to tell whether that candidate is a suitable one. “The background doesn’t really matter, it could be in retail, marketing, finance, social studies, but it’s not the first thing I look at” he told me. He’d rather peek at their social media pages (Instagram, Facebook, Weibo) to get an understanding about their sense of style and their personal taste about places to hang out.
“You know, there is no school for image consultants, you are born with part of it” Justin kept going. This is why he expects the image-consultant-to-be to have an innate talent for fashion and style. “If you have this in you, the rest of it can be moulded and improved through experience and training”.
For the future, Justin wants to push the social aspect – looking at being more present in the traditional & social media, and to further develop the accessories’ marketing and sales part. “That is fast and easy, and could help promote the knowledge of Principle M”. The guy is also looking at something else, but times are not mature yet to share it, so I made him promise me he will keep me in the loop!
Before leaving (and taking the amazing red-themed selfie here below) I asked Justin about the name Principle M and the reason why they chose it. “Everyone has principles in their life. And M stands for whatever you like it to be – it can be Menswear but it can be anything else” he told me. Interesting. They leave it open, and I love it.
For the soft launch event @ Principle M I was delighted to wear:
Little black dress: Zara
Earrings and leather bracelet: Swarovski
Lipstick: Chanel Rouge Coco’ #16 taffetas rose
Fot the meeting with Justin in Sanlitun I was delighted to wear:
Red coat: Max Mara Studio
Cachemire shawl: Woo
For the pictures of the party, special thanks to Principle M.
The selfie was taken with my white iPhone 5.