Hong Kong’s London-based fashion designer Johanna Ho made her name by dressing the likes of local power couple Eason Chan and Hilary Tsui, as well as establishing an international network of boutiques and stockists with her eponymous label several years ago.
Today, the talented, quirky designer has turned her attention to a new project called Phvlo — a sports-inspired, functional, versatile and sustainable fashion label rocking the scene with its forward-thinking concept. “Phvlo is not just a brand. It’s more than that. It’s about creating a community of creatives that’s a counterbalance to wasteful fashion — and collections are trans-seasonal,” she explains. “Our motto is ‘a 25-hour lifestyle’. We’re reducing the need to multiply purchases to answer different needs through the versatility of each item, and each design is created individually making use of fabrics and techs that have minimal impact on the environment.”
The idea didn’t spark overnight, however. Ho took two years out after closing her eponymous brand before starting Phvlo. “I had to do research, with a lot of mentoring from different people. One of them was the late Louise Wilson, my mentor and good friend since my Central Saint Martins days,” she explains. “And spending more time back in the UK helped, as it’s actually a bit more mature and together in terms of knowledge — a community in itself with sustainability in fashion.”
Her garments have become serious staples in my own wardrobe. Sports and outdoorsy pieces, such as an ultra-light rain jacket with adjustable hood and removable sleeves, a dramatic wind breaker and a bold puffer, are fantastic quality and multifunctional. As with any successful sustainable brand, the proposition stands proud aesthetically as well as in concept. Collaborations with the design students of Central Saint Martins and the University of Westminster, as well as companies such as Adidas and Lane Crawford, mean that the Phvlo model is building momentum and gaining traction.
In Hong Kong, Ho has just launched a big project called Phvlo Hatch, taking over three levels of an old building in the famous garment and manufacturing district of Sham Shui Po. The space is being transformed into a physical platform aimed at rejuvenating the industry in Hong Kong with exciting design showcases and an atelier (“setting up a sample room with seamstresses and pattern cutters, who we call ‘lost people’, skilled people who were once upon a time so important to the fashion industry here”).
Community is key to Ho and her new project. “It’s about bridging and connecting creatives,” she says. “We believe this has no boundaries. We want different exchanges in culture, attitudes of design and lifestyles.”