As you may have guessed from our love of cupcakes, shoes and lip gloss, Team Sassy is so far a bit of a girls only zone (although any boys that wish to join us are very much welcome)! We’re happy to admit that all things man aren’t exactly our speciality… and we daren’t venture too deeply into the minds of our significant others for fear of what we might find in there!
So instead, we’ve recruited some of the coolest guys about town to give us their top suggestions for our Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide For Guys 2013 – from fashion to gadgets to food and everything in-between! Read on for some surefire shopping inspiration…
JJ: THE DANDY
JJ Acuna is HK’s resident cool guy about town – his taste is impeccable, his wardrobe unimpeachable and his style inimitable! Check out his fab blog, The Wanderlister, for art, design, lifestyle, fashion and trend reports from Hong Kong and the Asian Region at large.
This is my third year doing my Christmas Gift Guide For Guys for the fabulous Sassy Hong Kong; while my last two guides had pretty big purchases (cameras, smartphones and watches), this year I’ve focused my selection on gifts that are smaller in scale – more personal, more intimate, more original, and all from generally independent brands… Which means these guys’ gifts are guaranteed to be extra unique and will definitely exert some “wows” from any gentleman that’s lucky enough to receive such gifts. I know I would (*WINK WINK*)!
1. Penhaligon’s Cologne and Perfume, from $400-1,600
Shop 3025A, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong, 2359 3001
Pengaligon’s, established in 1870, is a Victorian-era perfumery from London that has obtained two Royal Warrants within its history (founder William Penhaligon was appointed the official barber and perfumer to Queen Victoria’s royal court!), and which it has retained to this day. Nowadays, devoted followers of original scents from this trusted name can go its newly opened flagship store at the IFC to choose a unique fragrance from the 34 available that match each person’s own personal tastes, characteristics, preference, and skin type. I’d suggest surprising your man with the Sartorial or Opus 1870 Eau de Toilette, whilst for a more floral fragrance, you could try a re-issued scent from the archives, like the Zizonia Eau de Toilette. If you don’t want to risk guessing, go for a gift certificate or take your guy to the Penhaligon’s store for a personal consultation with an expert to find the perfect fragrance.
2. Serapian Evolution Watch Roll, $4,400
G/F, 7 On Lan Street, Central, Hong Kong, 2522 3143
I recently met with Mr. Ardavast Serapian, the son of Stefano Serapian, who was the founder of the iconic and still-independent Milanese leather goods company, Serapian. Serapian have just opened a new flagship store on On Lan Street, and it’s the only one in Asia (so far!). As other leather companies in Milan have been bought by big fashion houses, Serapian stays independent, and keeps producing iconic pieces from their archives. A nice handy gift for guys is the Watch Roll in Grey Saffiano Leather; not only does it keep watches safe in a stylish pouch, it also helps your gentleman transport watches on important trips and vacations. In this day and age, there’s a sporty watch, a dinner watch, and a business watch… and the man in your life could really make use of something cool and stylish to keep all of them in!
I discovered the proudly Hong Kong-based shoe brand Portovelo one Sunday in November, at The Pawn’s Rooftop Market where they were selling their wares. The brainchild of ex-Google executive and Stanford graduate Hong Konger Lavina Tien, Portovelo Shoes take the walker that one step further (literally!) with a special striped rubber sole, and a signature blue and orange stripe on the front and back of the shoe that further reinforces its structure, so that you can get that extra mile out of them on your travels. I’ve seen the shoe, I’ve felt it… and it’s just very comfortable. The two-letter monogramming service is available if you contact Portovelo directly and takes about three to four business days to create. What’s more, with every shoe you buy, a child-in-need somewhere in the world will receive 15 meals, with the NGO that Portovelo supports changing every year. You look fantastic, you have personal style, you help out a local brand, and you help someone in need. How great is that?
4. RPMWest New Classic Jeans, from $800
Available from www.rpmwest.com
I’m completely in love with these jeans! I wrote about San Francisco-based RPMWest Jeans on my blog in November, after a friend introduced me to the guys who run this newly formed Kickstarter-based company. Having easily raised the US$100,000 required to start manufacturing high-quality Japanese Selvedge jeans in a sweatshop-free factory in the United States, RPMWest is now poised to introduce their jeans to the world. The two fits they make are perfect but with my larger legs, I prefer the New Classics, which are much roomier around the knees but snug where it matters, on the hips and around the calves and ankles. At about US$95, RPMWest want their goods to be worn by as many people as possible, because they believe everyone deserves a high quality pair of jeans, built by artisans who really care about the people they’re making clothes for… And they look great with a tie or a t-shirt!
5. SO SOAP Hand and Body Soap, from $168
See all Hong Kong stockists here
In the age of Kiehl’s and Aesop, it’s nice to know that Hong Kong has its own brand of organic soap packaged in big bottles so stylish that you don’t mind displaying them openly in your bathroom and shower (toss those ugly Dettol bottles away please, gentlemen!). By purchasing SO SOAP’s toiletries (which use only the most toxic-free methods of production), not only are you protecting your skin from harsh chemicals, but you can also re-use their plastic bottles with refills and further minimise pollution… Plus, you’re helping a local independent business do good. I’ve had my hand soap for more than a year and this stuff really lasts! Currently, the soaps come lightly scented with rose, chamomile, olives, lavender oatmeal, orange cinnamon, or with no scent at all. After all, a good clean gentleman is always preferred company!
RICHARD: THE TECHIE
Richard Lai is the Senior Editor of Engadget, our go-to guide for gadgets and all the latest scoops in the world of tech. He’s also a total karaoke king!
1. Nokia Lumia 1520, $5,998
See selected Hong Kong stockists here
The Windows Phone is making a big comeback courtesy of Nokia’s Lumia 1520. Unlike previous devices in the ecosystem, this one actually has all the latest technologies – a powerful 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 chip, a gorgeous 6-inch 1080p display, a massive 3,400mAh battery and a 20-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss lens, plus optical image stabilisation. But it’s not just about specs, as Nokia’s also done a fantastic job at bringing in a set of fun camera-centric apps, plus many more major apps (including Flipboard, Vine and Instagram) have recently landed on Windows Phones too. If you want to spoil your loved one with something unique, then this would be a good choice.
Stereo Bluetooth headphones have come a long way – from clunky, unreliable creatures from way back when to the small, nice-sounding earbuds you can find today. JayBird’s BlueBuds X are pretty much the best ones you can get in the market right now, especially for portability and sound quality. Since they are sweat-proof (courtesy of Liquipel, whose custom coating service was featured in my gift guide last year!) and come with special ear fixtures, you can use them for all kinds of workouts. The battery lasts for up to eight hours, which is very impressive given their tiny size.
3. HTC One, $4,998
See all Hong Kong stockists here
2013′s best smartphone is now available in vivid blue and glamorous red colours… Oh, and it’s cheaper, too! The HTC One features HTC’s intuitive and slick Sense 5.5 Android interface, which features a handy BlinkFeed news aggregator on the home screen, plus a powerful and fun Video Highlights editing tool. The latter goes well with the One’s UltraPixel camera with optical image stabilisation, and it’s both fast and works well in low-light environments. Joining the 4.7-inch One are the 5.9-inch One max and the 4.3-inch One mini, all of which have loud front-facing stereo speakers, which is a thoughtful feature that I wish more phones would have.
There have been many attempts in the smartwatch space in recent years, but when it comes to practicality, the Pebble Smartwatch easily stands out. While others struggle to provide adequate battery life, the Pebble usually lasts up to five to seven days thanks to its efficient backlit E-Ink display (simply shake or tap to activate the backlight). It’s also not as bulky and is waterproof up to 5ATM. Once connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth, you can get vibration and on-screen notifications for incoming calls, e-mails (with clipped message for preview) and some social networking apps. Oh, and of course, you can download different watch faces and quickly switch between them to suit your mood. The best news of all is that Pebble is finally coming all the way from California to Hong Kong, and will be available in major retailers here in the new year!
Track your activity and sleeping patterns with this neat little Jawbone Up wristband – and better yet, it doesn’t even require a Bluetooth connection! Simply stick it into your smartphone’s headphone jack to sync data to the Up app, where you can set targets for burned calories and sleeping time. The Up can also serve as a vibration alarm to wake you up at the optimal time, according to your sleeping cycle (it works well for me!). Get one for you and your loved one each, so that you can motivate each other (and friends) via the app too!
AVEY: THE MAN ABOUT TOWN
Avey Cortes is the Marketing & Events Manager at Maximal Concepts (the folks behind Blue Butcher, Brickhouse and PLAY) – so he’s always got the scoop on the coolest goings-on around town. He also rocks a deep V-neck tee like no other!
1. Louboutin Gareth Zip Veau Velour Shoes, $10,4000
See all Hong Kong stores here
I have a weakness for shoes – all shapes, styles and colours… I love them! Contrary to popular opinion, they don’t have to be designer either (I own several pairs of plimsolls that I bought in the market for $30) but my favourite style of shoe is a pointy brogue and I just fell in love with these Gareth Zip Veau Louboutins when I first spotted them in a Justin Timberlake video, of all places! The silver toe cap adds a bit of flash to the class of the grey suede and these have ‘ME’ written all over them. I absolutely NEED to be wearing these this festive season… please Santa!
2. The Refinery Gift Set, from $520
Available from Flawless, 4/F, Sea Bird House, 22-28 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, 2869 5868
I’ve always been a fan of wellness and grooming and through my work with urban spa, Flawless, I was introduced to a few amazing brands – my favourite being The Refinery by Aromatherapy Associates. My first experience of the brand was when I had the Detox Facial, and I was so impressed that I decided to try their shaving products. The Shave Foam Gel has an intoxicating aroma of clove and mint that actually makes me look forward to shaving in the mornings, whilst the Post Shave Balm is lightweight, comforting and leaves my skin feeling silky smooth. Having witnessed quality results after using these products, I decided to completely switch to using all the products in their collection! The Refinery has released some special kits combining a number of the products in a special wash bag, which make for perfect stocking fillers for the festive season; you can choose between Shaving Essentials and (my personal favourite, hint hint) Skincare Essentials. With the party season upon us, there is no better way to keep yourself looking fresh faced!
3. The Minuteman Watch by squarestreet, $1,250
Available from squarestreet, 15 Square Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, 2362 1086
I’ve never really been a watch wearer but fell in love with squarestreet’s designs when I was gifted a VOID watch a couple of years ago – and I was such a fan that I went and bought all my male friends one at any festive opportunity! So this Christmas, I’m hoping someone returns the favour with the strikingly classic Minuteman Watch. What I love about the design of the Minuteman is that it features two different versions of its face: one option has high contrasted fine white hands on a black face, with the other a white hand painted luminescent face with a delicate gold needle tip. I also like that there are a multitude of strap colour combinations to choose from, including genuine leather versions for those elegant occasions and NATO nylon for a more casual look.
4. Modern Family DVD Box Set, $619
Available from HMV (see all Hong Kong locations here)
A large part of my Christmases growing up was what was on the telly – I’d usually wake up on Boxing Day and unwrap my presents in front of the TV! Over the years, my Dad would often get me a DVD box set of my favourite show and insist I put it on whilst we open gifts… so even though everyone has all but moved onto downloading and streaming what they watch, I’m one of the few people that still appreciate the physical packaging of box sets! To carry on the tradition, I’m adding the current darling of US sitcom, Modern Family, to my list; with a box set featuring seasons 1 to 4, I’m sure to be kept occupied well into the New Year.
5. Makr X Kapok Farm Ruck Sack, $1,480
See all Kapok locations in Hong Kong here
As someone who is constantly on the go from the office, to meetings, to events, to the gym… I like to have a bag that can carry everything from my laptop to my gym shoes. I usually switch between a Sandqvist backpack and a more professional looking leather man bag, both of which I got from my favourite store, Kapok. Their Makr Farm Ruck Sack, an exclusive collaboration with Makr Carry Good’s, works perfectly for everyday use, adding versatility by having both shoulder straps and a canvas handle; I also love the pine green colour, which is a subtle nod to the Kapok tree logo. The backpack is simple and extremely well thought out, featuring multiple pockets, perfect for storing all the bits and pieces I need when I’m out there pounding the pavement… in style, no less!
JASON: THE “GUY-TAI”
Jason Tse is one of HK’s top food bloggers, a travel consultant at Flight Centre, and a self-proclaimed ‘guy-tai’! Check out his blog Life As A Bon Vivant for great foodie reviews or pop down to see him at Flight Centre and get all his travel advice in person.
1. Giftwell Gift Card, price varies
Available online here
Christmas is all about giving… and I certainly like to GIFTWELL! Through their online gifting platform, you can select a wide range of innovative yet practical offerings such as pampering spa treatments, sweet indulgences (hello macarons!) or even a special meal to share with your loved ones. For this Christmas, my “hint” to all my friends would be the Nara Chair from Manks; after all, who doesn’t want to want to receive well too, right?!
2. Tateossian Tourbillion Movement cufflinks, $2,800
Available at Lane Crawford
Well, I can’t afford a Tourbillon watch yet, but nothing can stop me from getting a pair of Tourbillion Movement Cufflinks, right?! Made in England and rhodium-plated, I reckon this is going to be a long lasting piece and I do not see the tourbillon mechanism falling out of fashion anytime time soon. Most importantly, it is fun enough to look at it when bored!
3. Reality Bank in the Form of a Pig, $1,250
Available at Homeless
December is often a month associated with plenty of spending, what with Christmas presents, festive dinners and perhaps a short trip to take advantage of the public holidays too! So the best new year’s resolution would be best to start saving again for your next splurge with this Reality Piggy Bank, which could also be a nice centrepiece to compliment your home decor. I only wish it made “oink oink” noises as well!
4. GRADO LABS SR325i Headphones, $3,168
Available online here
Forget about noise cancelling functions or whether your headphones matches your outfit, let’s go back to basics with a pair of classic open-air dynamic headphones by Grado Labs! Some say the design is retro, while others say it is functional and practical – but however you want to describe it, I say that it’s simply attractive just the way it is! I value sound quality over anything else when it comes to music… so let the music play!
5. Almoco Flatware Flat Black Cutlery, around $388
Available online here
Running out of ideas what to give your foodie friends for Christmas? Forget about giving anything edible, unless you are making them yourself! Instead, how about this set of Flat Black Cutlery. It certainly looks cool in its sleek all black design, and is definitely something collectible for the future.
RAZLAN: THE GUY NEXT DOOR
Razlan Manjaji is a self-confessed travel addict and food lover. When he is not expanding his waistline consuming copious amounts of beer and seafood, he can be seen toiling away as a digital product manager at SCMP… or riding the treadmill to keep said waistline in check! Share his joy for life on www.razlan.net.
This year, I decided that I want to be a baddddd boy and tell you what I want for Christmas, rather than just giving you recommendations for others! Being the nice guy next door has its perks, but I am done finishing last (sometimes!), so here’s my list of great Christmas gifts that you should totally buy for me for that special guy-next-door in your life.
1. Muji Tartan Blanket, around $500
See all Muji stores in Hong Kong here
Keep that boy warm in bed (and in his heart!) with this gorgeous Muji Tartan Down Blanket. Measuring 80x130cm, I imagine this would go perfectly well with a plain bed sheet… Plus it looks like Christmas in bed! And now you have yet another reason to go to bed more often *wink*
2. Soap Soap FUN Handmade Soap
Contact SoapSoapFUN@gmail.com for stockists
Even the guy next door gets downright dirty sometimes, so it’s your job to keep him squeaky clean! This beautiful piece of handmade soap from local brand Soap Soap FUN is made from Hokkaido milk (which is, like, totally nourishing!), plus olive oil, charcoal and jojoba. I was told it is good for sensitive skin thanks to its organic ingredients, and I am very, very eager to find this out in person *hint hint*!
3. Zara Home Men’s Plaid Pyjamas, $599
Zara Home, Shop 3205, Level 3, Gateway Arcade, Harbour City, Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Nothing makes a more masculine statement than a man daring to be fashionable in pyjamas, and this set of Zara Plaid Nightwear is the perfect choice to make your boy next door look gorgeous enough to bed… in case you need even more reasons for that!
4. rwb330 “Do Not Dread Bearing Weight” Shoulder Bag, $790
Available online here
Take your boy-next-door’s adorableness up a notch with this local-style rwb330 Shoulder Bag, designed to promote awareness of mental health issues. It’s perfect for every day use – hello, grocery shopping! – plus you’ll be supporting a good cause too.
5. Zuny Panda Bookend, $520
Available at Lane Crawford
The bookworm in me says that I should find something that looks good on my ever-increasing bookshelf, and this cute Zuny Panda Bookend caught my eye while browsing on Lane Crawford website recently. It’s perfectly practical, plus it boasts extra brownie points for looking (somewhat!) like me most mornings!
Good luck gifting your guys, girls!