Entrepreneur Sandy Ip has tapped into the pulse of her clientele by providing holiday brands under the aegis of her signature store The Beach Project.
The project is a subdivision of The Holiday Project, which transitions to its winter incarnation The Ski Project as the seasons change: in summer you’ll find swimwear, hats, and tennis ensembles; on the eve of winter, ski to après-ski ensembles, stylish winter accessories, and outerwear for men and women will line the racks.
Like the signage on top of the entrance, everything in the store changes as the store has a “see now, buy now” philosophy. Any time you return, you’ll find an entire new collection – there are no warehouses filled with replenishable stocks, there is no wastage of space or storage. What you see is what you get, which you can pretty much say of Ip as well.
Full of effervescent charm, she’s known for her impeccable taste as the store is essentially a reflection of it. There isn’t a piece she wouldn’t personally wear – well, except for the menswear of course.
Housing a finely curated collection of brands she’s discovered while jet-setting around the globe for herself, her friends, and those who have similar lifestyles – you’ll find brands like Devotion Twins, accessories from Nayam, hats from Blanc, and swimwear from Arabella, Gyre and Reina Olga among a host of others. Ip painstakingly (and at great cost) changes the sign above the store to reflect the time of the year.
It’s casual elegance, refined taste and a hint of mischief. There’s a palpable sense of fun in the sun motif in the store – but by the time you read this feature, perhaps the entire shop will have morphed into a winter wonderland. There’s never a dull moment with Ip.
How long have you been in Pacific Place now?
Three years ago, we opened The Ski Project in Pacific Place, in Admiralty Hong Kong. It was a great success during November, just before people took off for winter vacation – many came in to shop and I sold out nearly everything. I wasn’t really hesitant as I knew I was looking at clients like me, who wanted to wear something fashionable and practical when on vacation. People don’t just shop for known brands, they are willing to discover new things. Also, 90% of our customers are local like me – so I feel like this is a good place for them: the brands are on par with what is already in the mall, be it price-point, style, or elegance.
How do you describe the collection?
Beautiful activewear and resort-wear. That’s where we initially started because everyone in the market was wearing a certain kind of luxury brand or the really technical brands – such as the performance gear when you go on ski holidays. There was a huge gap in transitional activewear – something that you can wear from the slope to the city or to a ski chalet or, in summer, something that you can wear by the pool or on the beach. There are swimsuits we have that are so pretty, you can wear shorts over them, grab a sun hat and hit the town. I pick colours, cuts, and fabrics that I’d want to wear personally. I knew the store will be a reflection of not only my taste, but me.
You have a limited collection and stock – no wastage.
Exactly, so any time somebody comes here there’ll be new material, new items, new designers. The concept is “see now, buy now”. There’s no saving it for next season – let alone the next year! Now, whenever we do replenish the stock, if we sell out, then we’ll bring in something entirely new.
How did you pick your brands or designers?
When I’m travelling, I pick brands and designers, first and foremost, based on what I like personally. I have to be authentic to the concept. It is based on what I believe the market is missing.
I also live the life of a modern traveller; they ski in the winter and they go to Greece in the summer! Well, that’s what I do! I’m catering to those who are active, exploring and are enthusiastic travellers. People who will snowboard [in winter] and, in the summer, will play tennis, travel on boats and yachts, swim at the beach – and want to look good while doing it.
The collection is for a wanderlust, who is active and healthy – she or he (we have menswear too) relates to the store and we want to create a community where people can share these values.
Since we last met, the menswear is a new and welcome addition.
Yes, designers are introduced to me all the time. The Italian label Sease (a portmanteau of ‘sea’ and ‘ease’) was founded by Franco and Giacomo Loro Piana. All the fabrics are incredible. This is a capsule collection and we are the only retailer in Asia that sells it. The brand also believes in us and is is also in line with our philosophy. It’s limited-edition excellence.
What’s new in store today?
At the moment, it’s Chase swimwear – we are the only retailer that have it. If you ask me in a few weeks, I’ll have a different answer for you. Every two weeks we have new arrivals because we want to make sure that we have a great turnaround.
So for every holiday, you plan to be the one-stop destination from head to toe, hat to boot.
Anywhere in the world, it’s very hard to find a one-stop destination where you can get everything from head to toe. You have to get your goggles somewhere, your jacket elsewhere, and for helmets and ski pants you have to go to a technical brand. But then you don’t have a full coherent look for winter. I hope to do that full look for everyone in one place. Our winter concept will start in October, until April next year. Then we switch again.
It isn’t just what’s on the rack – the entire store gets an overhaul?
Yes, we order furniture and display cases and we have an LCD screen where we play different videos. We also do mini popups with the brands that are exclusive to us. The only thing permanent right now is the location at Pacific Place.