Fact: Like a child, I gravitate toward anything bright and furry. Jackets, bags, boots, sweaters, you name it. Orange fur? Totally practical! A fuchsia fur scarf and matching gloves? Muppet chic! So, when I started seeing photos last February of fashion blogger Vanessa Hong of The Haute Pursuit and several editors in what appeared to be the same voluminous fur coat in various saturated colors, I had to email her to find out what they were all about.
Turns out, they aren’t the astronomically expensive designer creations I expected them to be, but rather custom-made faux designs Hong herself commissioned. At the time, she offered to lend me one for Paris Fashion Week, which wasn’t only generous, but shrewd—she was gearing up to roll them out as an official collection.
I didn’t go to Paris, but told her I’d love to catch up and hear more when the jackets were close to debuting. So, when Hong was in New York earlier this summer, she swung by our office to chat about why—and how—she decided to start selling her fabulous fauxs, which are available on her site right now.
Firstly, how did these coats come to be?
The very first prototype was a dark forest green color that I made two years ago for myself. I based it off a street style image I found of a model wearing a green fur that was real.
So how did you decide to go from making one for yourself to producing and selling?
My friends [started saying] “oh, why don’t you make me a coat,” but it’s actually complicated to deal with very thick faux fur. Then, last year, I decided again I’d make a new batch of faux furs for myself, and I was pushed enough by my friends to make more.
And at that point I definitely saw there was a hole in the market. Someone like Shrimps, they do faux furs but they’re quite thin, and I know Marc by Marc [Jacobs] does a lot, and other people too, but the price range is usually $1,000 or more.
I wanted to create something under $1,000. [Our] coats are all $850, and the chubbies—the stoles—retail for $375.
Anyone who follows your style knows you’re definitely not someone who tends to gravitate toward color. Why bright fur?
Right?! I wanted to incorporate color but in a very minimalist way—so, how would something like this fit in my closet if I’m wearing a white T-shirt, black leather pants and black D’Orsay flats? In that type of styling situation [the colored jackets] are minimalist and sleek.
Take me through the styles you’ll be selling, and how many you’ll be producing.
There’s a traditional peacoat style, and also a box-cut style. And, as I mentioned, the stole. We’re only making 250 pieces total. The idea is that they’re going to be more bespoke. They’re all going to have silk lining and handmade chains, and come with custom hangers and custom garment bags. The thought is to give the girl—or guy— receiving this coat something special and one of a kind.
What was the manufacturing process like?
This was a real crash course in faux fur. We went to the fur markets in Beijing—I’d lived [there] for two years, so I was familiar with the fabric markets all around the city, and as you might imagine, the real and faux are [bought] in the same place.
I learned that the price difference between premium faux fur and real isn’t huge. Each piece is being manufactured in Beijing at a small factory we sourced ourselves. I’m visiting China every month and making sure all the coats are perfect.
Was it a conscious decision to use faux?
Definitely a conscious decision to do something synthetic and [also] a bigger challenge. With animal fur, the quality’s always going to be pretty good but with faux, it was a challenge to find something that would be warm and that would mimic mink from afar and close up. Even after touching it someone might be like “what is this?!”
Where can we buy them?
On my store, but we’ll also be partnering with other retailers. Two I can speak of now—Lucky Shops is one, and this great store in L.A. called ShopSuperStreet.com is the other.
We all know how to style a coat, but how would you wear the chubby?
I love the idea of a stole—you’re not a committing to a full fur, so the chubby gives you versatility. I’d style it in two ways. Casually, I imagine a girl putting on her boyfriend’s overcoat and a tee and maybe Stan Smiths, and she belts it, or wraps it around her neck. If you’re going out at night, I love it with a beautiful dress or a motorcycle jacket.
I want the girl to have fun—I’m a minimalist and I feel like you can be on both ends of the spectrum. Don’t be intimidated by color.
You adhere to a minimalist aesthetic and always appear polished—what are your secrets to looking sleek in basics?
You’ve got to know your proportions—I’m petite and I can’t always go full-on oversized. And I think sometimes paying a little more. For me, if I want a nice pair of leather pants or a tee I can wear during the day but also out to dinner at night, they need to be cut well. And oftentimes it’s brands that are marked a little higher that do a better job at making those because they know the woman in mind is simple but she wants something quietly luxurious.