A revitalized cotton mill in Hong Kong turns textiles into tech-styles

Jun 9, 2019

By Rebecca Cairns.

Straddling the border of Kowloon and the New Territories, Tsuen Wan may be beyond the main thrust of most tourist sites, but new arts and heritage project The Mills has transformed the neighborhood’s old textile factories into a center of boutique shops, dining spots and exhibition spaces worth a detour. The project gives a platform to Hong Kong brands that connect with the energy of the city: concrete home wares from Shabibi Sheep Workshop converts the materials of clinical urbanization into art, and celebrated local businesses like burger diner Honbo and premium roaster Coco Espresso have new outposts.

The Mills doesn’t forget where it came from, either, which, in Hong Kong, where the habit is to erase the past to build the future, is utterly refreshing. While innovation and tech-startups are at the forefront of the project, the precinct pays tribute to the textile industries that laid the foundations for the fashion economies and technologies of today: staircases with peeling paint, once used daily by cotton mill workers, have been preserved; commissioned wall murals from six Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation artists present impressions of the past; and original signage brings memories to life. The stops listed here make for an illuminating afternoon—though if you’re an art aficionado or history buff, perhaps set aside a little more time to take in the details and visit all the exhibitions, which change each quarter.

Hyper-personalized watchmaker EONIQ uses mechanical movements and individual signatures to make customized watches. eoniq.co.

Alt: A New Cycle uses an innovative garment recycling system that weaves new clothes out of old pieces in just four hours. GF,5–7; themills.com.hk

Koko Coffee Roasters is a new outpost from much loved local brand Coco Espresso. Beans are sent directly from farms around the world and roasted on site. fb.com/kokoroasters.

Like its sister bar in Mongkok, The Ale Project offers some of Hong Kong’s finest beer brands on tap including Young Master and Heroes Beer Co. fb.com/theale

Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textiles (CHAT) has a rotation of exhibitions, focusing on both heritage objects and contemporary Asian artwork. Its programs include interactive “co-learning” workshops, performances and talks. mill6chat.org.

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