An Interview with William Wong, Founder of Arterton

Arterton is a UK brand focusing on Garment bag and dismantlable umbrella, both are not so much discussed even in the most enthusiastic communities.

When every classic menswear connoisseur agrees that the devil is in the details, these pieces definitely should not be left behind. And we thank William, the founder to fill the gap and gives us great quality and exquisite taste products.

In the meantime, Arterton based in the most prosperous shoemaking country but chooses to team up with Yearn shoemaker (domestically known as SLIMSHOES) from China which also intrigues me.

It is a honor to talk with him.

Could you tell us more about yourself?

I spent considerable years growing up in Hong Kong and I have a PhD from the University of Cambridge. Aside from the usual menswear hobbies, I like hi-fi (my father is an avid collector) and Olympic weightlifting.

Unlike some other menswear company founders, perhaps I’ve had a more “arabesque” route in having run some industrial companies (and still do), as well as having been a university lecturer in Philosophy. However, I take it that we are all united in our passion for things that are of quality, proper craftsmanship and of aesthetic value.

Indeed, Arterton started as a passion project, and it seeks to pursue those very qualities. It sounds simple enough, but not everyone does it, for one reason or another.

Garment bag is a quite interesting piece as not many think too much about it, how important do you think it is for a sartorial enthusiast?

If you are a sartorial enthusiast, chances are that your garments are worth a pretty penny. Any good garment bag should serve both storage and travel functions.

In terms of storage, garment bags fulfil the very simple function of protecting one’s clothing from moths, dust, and water damage. For travel, they help you carry one or more garments in a safe, fashionable, and wrinkle-less manner.

But not all garment bags are equal. Take, for example, a complimentary one from the shop or the drycleaner. These are often composed of black woven polyester such that they do not breathe well, they tear easily, and contain lots of gaps for moths or dust to enter. As for how they look? Well, let me just say that we don’t do any polyester ones.

Could you tell us what aspects were in your mind when you designed the garment bag?

In many ways, we weren’t concerned with cutting down costs when it came to producing the bag. Rather, we had a list of key points (e.g. water resistance, breathability, durability, metal zips, sartorial details) that we wanted to hit. In the end, we added them all in a way that gel well together.

And, this approach to design, I think, ultimately works because we are aiming at sartorial enthusiasts who care very much about what their garment bags are like.

Umbrella, a true gentlemen piece, what are the design points.

It’s funny that you mention it being a gentlemen’s piece. Indeed, our flagship “Dismantlable Umbrella” is a classic full-length English brolly. By being full-length, it is apt for serving as a walking stick – something that has been canonical of the English tradition.

But the trouble with a full-length umbrella is its portability. It’s awfully long. Thus, the “Dismantlable” design of the umbrella allows the handle and ferrule tip to be folded in, thereby reducing the length to about 69.5 cm.

This way, it can be fit in a suitcase or a larger weekender bag. Nothing beats the look, feel, and strength of a full-length umbrella.

I think most people spend quite few time or thoughts about wardrobe care, what is your take on it?

There’s a lot of good advice on the internet these days. In general, just clean the right way, store the right way, and press/iron the right way.

Of course, the tricky part is deciphering what “the right way” is. Here are some good pointers:

· Don’t dry clean your suiting/clothing too much. Harsh chemicals can damage the fabric and it does little use in removing human moisture. Instead opt to brush, and “sponge and press”.

· Hang your clothes properly. Thick shoulder supports are good. But avoid hanging knitwear.

· Just like shoes, let your clothes breathe after each wear. You’d be surprised how much moisture a jacket and its trimmings can absorb.

· Fear the moths.

With so many shoe brands in UK, why do you choose to cooperate with Yearn Shoemaker from China?

There are multiple answers to this question. For one, I wanted Arterton to be able to offer something different to the community of menswear enthusiasts. For another, I believe that there is a rising trend of high-end footwear coming out of China that deserves more recognition. Yearn, ACME, Oct. Tenth, Yeossal (Singaporean brand, but Made in the PRC, I believe), are ones that come to mind. There are too many good ones to name.

There is, however, one big hurdle that all of these makes encounter. And it is that “Made in China” has almost become a bad epithet. In truth, I think whether something is good or not depends on the set of individual factors with respect to the make. In other words, some workshops in China are good and some are not so good. The point is that Yearn, along with others, I think can do good to dispel the myth that Made in China is always bad.

On the contrary, not only does Yearn (aka Slimshoes – their domestic brand name) offer immense value, but they are also beautifully hand-welted. A feat that is often seen only in bespoke.

How is the business going? Where are your costumers from?

We are a relatively new company, and it appears that business is picking up. We also have a flourishing B2B operation where we develop and supply garment bags for some notable Savile Row tailor houses.

Speaking of Savile Row, we are also the exclusive distributors of Nakata Hangers – whom I believe make the finest hangers in the world. We now have a few houses using them.

Do you have a plan to build the sales network globally?

Interesting question. Although we sell globally, I believe that many activities are not a zero-sum game and that it is better to work together. In other words, there are many “Win-Win” situations. Thus, we are open to working with partners who understand the local market and provide practical capacities for distribution.