Prestige 40 Under 40: Kevin Poon, Entrepreneur
Back to list

Kevin Poon

Co-founder of CLOT, Juice Store, WOAW and Elephant Grounds

“CLOT is not just a label, it’s a movement.” The slogan – describing the Hong Kong fashion label created by childhood friends Kevin Poon and Edison Chen – could easily apply to Poon himself. The 38-year-old entrepreneur, who grew up in Hong Kong, the US and Canada before attending California’s Pepperdine University, has been a driving force behind a burgeoning youth culture in Asia and beyond.
“There was a time when we were always queuing up for sneakers and, back in the day, limited-edition sneakers were only sold at select stores in Japan and the States, and they were almost impossible to get,” Poon recalls. “With the idea of making the process of collecting sneakers easier, as well as bringing a Chinese kind of culture into the scene through fashion, music and street art, we co-founded Juice, a multi-label concept store, back in 2003.
“People started to realise it’s a really good concept, and the next thing you know, competitors took the brands and opened their own flagship stores. Eventually that made me realise that we needed to have our own brand, so we could have control over our identity and design, in order to develop our own voice through CLOT.”
Poon and Chen were soon collaborating with the likes of Nike, Coca-Cola and Kanye West, showing collections at New York and Paris Fashion Week, and launching a distribution company for brands such as Kangol, Herschel Supply Company and Baxter of California.
In 2013, Poon founded the concept store WOAW (World of Amazing Wonders) and artisan coffee shop Elephant Grounds. He also co-organised Hong Kong’s first hip-hop and dance festival, Blohk Party, featuring Pharrell Williams. A pop-up event for CLOT’s Chineses collection (“heralding a new era of not just Chinese culture but culture worldwide”) in Guangzhou earlier this year was so popular the venue hosting it had to be shut down.
“I think young people really need a place to express themselves, and they need people to give them some direction. You know, when I interact with them on social media, they tell me they want to be designers or they want to start their own brand, but they don’t have the outlets
to do so,” Poon says of the commotion surrounding his ventures. “The whole idea behind our brand is to make people feel that if a bunch of misfits like us can do it, anyone can.”
As he sees it, the world is changing quickly and a lot of young people are left to wonder about their futures. “How to get ahead is the question. Creativity plays a big part, and so we’re just trying to bring that out in people.”
Poon also sees a responsibility for companies such as his to help see us through the current political turmoil and environmental crises unfolding in Hong Kong and the rest of the world. “Tough times don’t last, tough people do,” he says. “I think the world just needs more love, more understanding and more compassion to fight through this time.”

 

Outfit: Poon’s own