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Humans of Hong Kong: Creating meaning with Jason Lee

By Nicole Hurip 21 June 2020

Welcome to Humans of Hong Kong, a brand-new story series on Localiiz that takes a deeper look at the many colourful characters and unique personalities that call our beloved city home. Jason Lee is a fashion designer that seeks to break out of the mold, with both his creative work and his approach to fatherhood. Listen in as Jason ponders what it means to be a dad, and how having the right mindset can change everything.

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“Hong Kong was very work-centric in the past, so people didn’t have the time to appreciate art. My parents never brought me to any art exhibitions or galleries, so I didn’t really know about art. But once you can inspire this interest, then people will start to explore, to reflect upon and interact with it. I would expose my daughter more to art, to make it a part of her life. 

“At the moment, art still isn’t mainstream in Hong Kong. You get some places such as the Mills popping up, where you could come into contact with art. When art becomes a bit more popular, more people can be exposed to it, which is when it can become more mainstream bit by bit. But this all depends on one’s mindset and upbringing, as often times people may not be willing to spend the time or effort to do this because they’re so busy with work that they’d just want to chill in what little free time they have left.

“In this tech-savvy age, you’ve probably already been exposed to these kinds of things, but oftentimes, you would just scroll past a post and assume that you’ve already understood it, that you’re artistic. But that lacks reflection on a deeper level.”

“We use the label to tell a story of our daily lives.

“We had a season called I Don’t Wanna Grow Up—this was done from my daughter’s perspective, inspired by my feelings as a new father. It’s very whimsical, and conveys the message that though I am her father, I don’t even want to grow up, so why do children have to grow up? This is not societal commentary, it’s just that I want her to grow up healthily—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. She constantly inspires me, and I relay that in my work.”

“Growth and life are funny things. I’m always very curious as to what kind of person my daughter would grow up to be like in the future. I’ve witnessed her growth since she was a baby in my arms, and when she learned to walk, to talk, to communicate with me… At the beginning, it’s like she’s a blank piece of paper, and it really depends on what is being instilled in her. Sometimes, you may think that there are some things that she cannot do, but if you don’t let her try, that would mean that she really can’t do it. So it’s lessons like these that… it’s like living life again through her. Sometimes, children may have to try things for themselves before they really understand why they shouldn’t do something; I’d have reflections like these after being a father.”

“My father was more hands-off and gave me more freedom, but too much freedom meant a lack of guidance so that I didn’t really know what I was doing, back then. That level of freedom creates distance. The freedom I give my daughter is different; for example, I’d let her doodle however she wanted. Sometimes she would draw past the paper and onto the table, and I would tell her to stick to the paper because that would dirty the table. But if she doesn’t want to do things my way, I’d let her be. I give her less restrictions, but I try to communicate more with her, to be more caring.”

“If you don’t use a traditional way of living life in Hong Kong, it’s a pretty good place. You can enjoy every aspect of it more. I know work is very hard and exhausting, and many times people would choose to go home and sleep, but that is meaningless. 

“People always think they have to be travelling in order to fully enjoy a place, but I think you don’t have to—it’s all about your attitude. You could always go to places you don’t usually go, and do things that you don’t normally do, to create that feeling of being on vacation. I try to live like I’m on a working holiday in Hong Kong, to change the way I view things. I would look out the window and admire the scenery when I’m commuting. Oftentimes, we neglect the little things, which leads us to believe that the city lacks uniqueness. But that’s not true—you just need to pay more attention.”

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Nicole Hurip

Travel editorial director

Never content with sitting still, Nicole has turned her passion into a career. Hong Kong is her home, but she’ll always have a soft spot for L.A. and London, where she spent her college years. She loves exploring hidden places, hunting for cool vintage pieces, and talking to interesting people. Her vices include consuming excessive amounts of wine and cheese, a debilitating weakness for sparkly things, and spending too much time on Instagram.