Market Izzue

The Hong Kong label Izzue may have failed here, but on home ground, they are still going strong, even introducing a food and home store

Here, Izzue came and went. In 2013, i.t, the Hong Kong multi-label store, opened its first outlet in Wisma Atria with Wing Tai Retail through what the latter called at that time a “collaboration”. That first (of three stores) on our shores culminated in the three-level flagship in Orchard Gateway a year later. Izzue was part of the brand mix of i.t. When i.t shuttered last year, a few of its house brands such as 5cm, and Izzue were available in Robinsons. Now that Singapore’s second-oldest department store, too, shall be no more, Izzue appears to suffer the same fate as other brands linked to Wing Tai Retail, such as Topshop.

But in Hong Kong, where the retail scene is palpably impacted by the present pandemic, the IT Group, parent company behind Izzue and its sibling brands, has re-imagined Izzue as a coffee shop and food/home store. On our island, the most prominent label to go from fashion to food is PS.Cafe (formerly Blood Cafe of the now defunct Projectshop Blood Bros). The first of the Izzue food ventures to open was Izzue Coffee in July, then Izzue Market and Izzue Home in August. Izzue Market presently has two stores, one in the basement of Island Beverly in Causeway Bay and the other in Cityplaza in Taikoo Shing. By most accounts and observation of in-store traffic, the brand’s new grocery store is doing well, despite recent media headlines, “Hong Kong Retailer IT Group Offers To Delist For (US) $168 Million, as seen in WWD last week.

Food, as we’re reportedly told, is recession-proof, and now pandemic-proof too. We don’t associate IT retail ventures with the selling of fine groceries. Yet, here they are offering what to us is reminiscent of Jones the Grocer. For those only now discovering food retail, perhaps a touch of Scoop Wholefood. Some observers think that after more than two decades, Izzue—opened in 1999—needed to reinvent themselves. While, as a fashion label, Izzue caters to the young with a weakness for work wear-meets-military-fatigues-meet-street-style (a feather on their cap: they are the first label in Asia to collaborate with Japanese brand Neighbourhood), the market reiteration appears to target the more matured consumer (possibly the Izzue fans who have grown up). A total transformation. This is City’super for the food aficionado with the economic security of a paid-up apartment.

The space is stylishly appointed and befits the IT Group’s visual strength. At the Taikoo Shing store, assorted tables are grouped together to greet shoppers, in a setting that reminds us of the old Dean and Deluca stores in New York. This is not your regular (small-scale) supermarket. Shoppers are enticed with assorted finds from all over the world that would not typically take up even an inch of space in the likes of ParknShop: premium Japanese rice from Hokkaido and Hyogo, truffle tagliatelle from the UK, corn-fed French poulet jaune, Danish sparkling teas, prepacked tapas platter, and, not forgetting Hong Kong, the artisanal offerings of indie food producer Nicole’s Kitchen, with such unusual mixed jams as lychee/apple/rose. There is also Izzue Market’s nifty, reusable shopping bags. In other words, curated. Here, despite the intense devotion to Fairprice, we can totally see a PS.Market in the horizon.

Photos: K S Yeung for SOTD

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