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Tell me a story

By Rebecca Lo (China Daily)

10:15, April 17, 2012

Sister and brother designing duo Kay and Jing Wong tell Rebecca Lo in Hong Kong how they incorporate a playful narrative into every one of their ready-to-wear pieces under the label Daydream Nation.

'Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." Helen Keller's philosophy is thoroughly embraced by Kay and Jing Wong (right), the creative force behind Hong Kong fashion label Daydream Nation. Founded in 2006 by the sister and brother team, it is a quirky, whimsical brand that is easy to wear. Every piece in a collection is tied together with a story, and bits of that narrative show up in details such as appliqus, patterns and cuts that allude to a bigger picture.

In a two-level space halfway up a gentle hill from busy Queen's Road East, Daydream Nation's flagship store is a source of creativity rather than another clothing shop.

The ground floor is the only place where the entire range of the label's collections can be found, along with complementary pieces such as bags and shoes designed by like-minded international artisans.

Upstairs is a flexible lounge for music lessons, candle-making workshops, pinhole camera classes and art exhibitions. It is the heart of Daydream Nation's philosophy that Hong Kong needs more mental and physical spaces to play - and how the brand got its name as a sanctuary for misfits to dream.

"Hong Kong is very dry and there are lots of frustrating things about living here," admits Jing Wong. "We wanted a space that lets people cultivate their own passions and interests rather than merely consuming all the time. Design and creativity in Hong Kong is a battle for survival. And without a shop, we don't have a presence - like a nation without a place cannot be a nation."

With his background in theater design from Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, Wong is one half of Daydream Nation.

He is also a local set designer, working with Hong Kong theater troupe PIP Theatre, and an indie musician. His first album, Last Breath of Youthful Melancholy, is scheduled to be released this May.

"My forte is the approach and direction for a collection, while Kay is good with materials and details," he explains. "We work together very smoothly. Although we disagree and I argue with her, eventually I will give in because she is my older sister!"

Kay Wong also graduated from Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, working with London designer Jessica Ogden and majoring in printed textiles.

She operates Recycouture, an ongoing project where old garments are reconstructed into wearable art objects.

She has also designed costumes for theatrical productions including Hong Kong's City Contemporary Dance Company and London-based choreographer Akram Kahn.

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