ComplexCon Offers New Direction for Hong Kong’s Conference Economy

HONG KONG Street culture fair ComplexCon drew a sizable crowd to Hong Kong in the days running up to Art Basel.

The three-day event, held at the AsiaWorld Expo center near the airport, which is a 30-minute drive from downtown, featuring a slew of events encompassing fashion, art, food and entertainment, saw around 30,000 attendees queuing for exclusive drops, meeting brand founders, and enjoying experiences from more than 100 brands and organizations.

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Verdy, the Japanese graphic artist who served as the artistic director of the first edition of ComplexCon outside of the U.S., brought a one-off menu in partnership with McDonald’s Hong Kong and a range of exclusive merchandise with the fast food giant.

His exclusive drop with ComplexCon, featuring slogan T-shirts and hoodies, also attracted huge interest. People lined up for hours to get a hold of the limited-edition items.

Japanese artist Verdy with Randy Lai, chief executive officer of McDonald’s Hong Kong at ComplexCon Hong Kong
Japanese artist Verdy with Randy Lai, chief executive officer of McDonald’s Hong Kong at ComplexCon Hong Kong.

Edison Chen’s label Clot offered a giant-size Croc shoe and a booth inspired by the city’s famed wet market selling sneakers and T-shirts with two aunties promoting the merchandise the same way they would have done in an actual market.

“The great energy at ComplexCon proves that there’s a huge appetite for events like this in Hong Kong. We feel this is a special moment for us and everyone who’s into creativity,” said Simon Wat, general manager at Clot.

Chinese label Randomevent formatted its space as a traditional Hong Kong tea room with tiled floors, a dim sum cart, and two tables. It also offered its spin on the waiter’s worker jacket with Chinese knots as limited-edition merchandise for the fair.

Designer Feng Chen Wang brought a handbag inspired by the traditional Chinese clay teapot, as well as her latest sneaker collaboration with Converse.

She is also one of the 11 designers working with FabriX on a fresh batch of digital fashion items that can be virtually tried on via interactive mirrors at the fair, and be purchased on Roblox.

“We’ve gained a lot of new inquiries and interest from designers and brands. People were very excited about our Roblox collection. It’s been selling well on the platform in the past few days,” said Shin Wong, project director of FabriX.

Declan Chan, a Hong Kong-based fashion consultant, said the fair was “a success for a new form of conference economy.”

“There were a lot of offerings ranging from accessible-price-point street fashion to highly curated food counters. It was packed with shoppers obsessed with street fashion, the Hypebeast-reading crowd. There were queues everywhere. People in Hong Kong love to queue for limited-edition products that can fetch high prices in the resale market,” said Chan.

He also thinks that the fair’s high visibility on the popular Chinese social commerce platform Xiaohongshu helped drive mainland Chinese customers to shop and meet their favorite street-fashion celebrities.

Complexcon Hong Kong opening ceremony
Complexcon Hong Kong opening ceremony.

Bonnie Chan, chief executive officer of Complex China, said the success of the fair shows that Hong Kong is a vibrant city with global influence.

“The event is attracting travelers from afar, and many came prepared with a long shopping list. When you walk around in the fair, you hear many languages spoken. It’s just incredible how the youth culture has become so globally interconnected,” she added.

Chan noted that the fair’s curatorial approach plays to the advantage of Hong Kong, which is known to be the region’s “super-connector for international cultural exchange.”

“We not only aim to bring some of the most established artists and personalities in the industry, but also select exhibitors and creators from the angle of creating a cultural melting pot with brands and talents from Japan, Korea, North America, Southeast Asia, Europe, and of course Chinese brands from all across mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong,” said Chan.

Michael Wong, deputy financial secretary of the Hong Kong government, said during a press conference that he was delighted that Complex chose Hong Kong to make its Asia debut. He estimated that major cultural events like this and Art Basel will help the city attract 50 million visitors in 2024.

“March is a great time for Hong Kong. If you didn’t know about [the rest of the city’s offerings] beforehand, change your air ticket and extend your stay in Hong Kong. You will be happily surprised,” quipped Wong.

The inaugural ComplexCon Hong Kong was supported by the Mega Arts and Cultural Events Fund of the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, as well as sponsors such as McDonald’s Hong Kong, Landmark, Cathey Pacific, Group, Newman Group, Xiaohongshu and Douyin.

Adrian Cheng and Feng Chen Wang at ComplexCon Hong Kong
Adrian Cheng and Feng Chen Wang at ComplexCon Hong Kong.

Adrian Cheng, in his role as chairman of the Mega Arts and Culture Events Fund, lauded the event’s careful curation of brands from Hong Kong and mainland China as well as international labels. He paid a visit to the fair on Saturday afternoon and had exchanges with Verdy and Feng Chen Wang.

“Not only has it received strong local support, but it has also attracted diverse tourists from the region and around the globe…Our goal is for ComplexCon to become an annual grand event that Hong Kong is known for in the future,” he added.

Complex China has been the exclusive operator of the Complex brand in the Greater China region since 2021. It is a subsidiary of the Hong Kong-listed SV Vision Ltd., formerly known as Icicle Group.

With offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Los Angeles, SV Vision Ltd.’s other businesses include the content and programming arm Studio SV, the marketing production team Icicle, and Kicks Crew, a global e-commerce platform for athletic footwear and apparel.

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