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VM inspiration: Hong Kong flirts with fresh flowers

As retailing has softened somewhat in Hong Kong at present due to falling numbers of Chinese visitors, premium malls have tweaked their retail offer to include more active sportswear brands and more fresh flower stores.

Flannel Flowers is one such expansion, moving from an open space under an escalator in the International Finance Centre mall (IFC2) to a podium level store of its own. Using flowers flown in from Europe, Japan, and the US, with a suggested minimum spend of HK$500 (approx. £44.00), these simple bouquets are far from Hong Kong’s inexpensive flower market prices. The signature look is very natural, showcasing monochromatic or tone-on-tone coloured flowers surrounded by simple greenery, Western style.

In contrast the flower market, something of a tourist attraction, specializes in seasonally available bunches or those displays where each flower is elaborately wrapped in tissue paper. These are often arranged in strong colour contrasts of concentric circles without leaves creating, to Western tastes, a rather hard look.

In contrast to Flannel Flowers’ premium offer Le Sean, a florist tucked away beside the exit in Causeway Bay’s Fashion Walk mall, offers roses inspired by Saint Exupery’s ‘The Little Prince’ – a well-known novel in Hong Kong. The Little Prince makes a favourite of his rose, eventually discovering that she is not unique but realizing that she is special to him. Each rose, the petals decorated with diamond lame, has been preserved, dyed, and will last for over a year without water or light.

The price reflects the cost of preparation and the diamond mineral used, with entry-level single roses, intended as a semi-permanent token of romantic appreciation, retailing at HK$880 each.

As the merchandise is treated, separate overhead air-conditioning is not required, and the merchandise is displayed jewellery style in glass cabinets, each lit with spotlights.

Hong Kong celebrity floral designer Gary Kwok has filled the windows of IFC2 mall’s Cos store with a simple wooden frame greenhouse and plant benches, each filled with a selection of potted foliage plants. The selection chosen are often houseplants in less benign climes, but all are robust enough to survive Hong Kong’s humid climate, and displayed in pleasingly subtle ceramic pots forming a pleasingly homogenous look.

The display allows the merchandise to be seen clearly through the windows.

The atrium space of Causeway Bay’s Times Square features a floral tuk tuk promoting Fendi’s watch collection. Created from a real tuk tuk covered in a mossy fern and white paper flowers, a neon Fendi sign above the windscreen, another at the side, and one at the back announce the brand. The backboards, rising to about 20ft, are filled with three rows of stylized Italian white neon arches, which contrast with the flowers.

The addition of flower stores to malls, which previously only offered fashion, accessories, and chocolate stores, adds a new liveliness to Hong Kong retail and brings a freshness to neighboring retail spaces.