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In Dialog with Verdy, Creative Director of ComplexCon Hong Kong

In Dialog with Verdy, Creative Director of ComplexCon Hong Kong

Influential Japanese designer Verdy talks about the power of collaboration, his friendship with Kenzo’s Nigo and ComplexCon Hong Kong.

March is a busy time in Hong Kong’s social whirl. Art Basel draws its eclectic crowd of artists, dealers and aficionados, all clamouring for the latest masterpiece or eager to unload their unsold wares on to the newly minted – or perhaps to adorn the new developments of real-estate moguls. Until recently, there was also the Dior Homme show, to which entry was highly coveted but, as I write this, appears to have been “suspended indefinitely”. But worry not, for there’s still an avenue available to those who prefer revelling in coolness rather than highbrow tastes and aspirations.

Verdy at ComplexCon 2023

On March 22, the first international ComplexCon – Complex Chinese’s trend-setting festival of pop culture – comes to town. The event is being curated by the renowned Tokyo-based designer Verdy, who only last year was artist-in-residence at Coachella and artistic director of Blackpink’s international tour.

Headlining the much-anticipated musical line-up at ComplexCon Hong Kong is Atlanta’s rap sensation, 21 Savage, whose critically acclaimed third studio album American Dream has taken the world by storm, with high-profile collaborations from the likes of Travis Scott, Young Thug, Doja Cat, and Metro Boomin. Debuting in January at the top of the Billboard 200 and holding on to the number-one spot for two consecutive weeks, this album has surpassed all expectations, even though awards are no stranger to this hip-hop prodigy with 11 Grammy nominations under his belt and recent wins for Best Rap Song in 2020 and Best Rap Album for Her Loss in collaboration with Drake at the 2023 Billboard Music Awards. Joining him on stage is pH-1, the rising Korean-American rapper sure to leave audiences speechless, while other acts taking part in the ComplexCon music programme are 3Cornerz (ie, Edison Chen, MC Yan and Chef ), Chinese rapper Lexie Liu and several rising hip-hop stars from Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Aside from music, the packed ComplexCon programme includes a vibrant marketplace, where art, fashion, technology and gastronomy collide in exclusive drops, and panel discussions with leading cultural leaders. Of course, we’re also expecting to see new collections from Verdy’s streetwear brand Girls Don’t Cry, which gained the artist international acclaim in 2017. The brand’s offerings, which range from T-shirts and hoodies to keychains, have a cult-like following, drawing crowds of hundreds or even thousands on release days. As well as collaborations with heavy hitters such as Union Tokyo and Uniqlo, Verdy’s Girls Don’t Cry x Nike SB line is now considered one of the rarest and most valuable sneakers collections ever released. Other notable brands participating in ComplexCon are Edison Chen’s Clot, VandythePink and Staple.

“I’m trying to bring the energy from 2023’s ComplexCon Long Beach,” says Verdy. “This will be the first time people in Asia will be experiencing this festival. My curatorial approach is to bring different brands and artists from different generations together.” He adds that Hong Kongers can expect to see the characters he created – Vick and Visty – make an appearance. “You’ll also be seeing the return of the ComplexCon character I previously created for Long Beach travelling to Hong Kong for the first time as well as some new merchandise featuring him,” he adds.


ComplexCon is one of the many examples of the way in which retail is leveraging pop culture to stay relevant and drive engagement. Pop culture and fashion, for example, have become virtually inseparable – nowadays any piece of fashion criticism about a collection shown, say, at Paris Fashion Week, without mentions of the various celebrity, television, music or mainstream art references ultimately feels flat and uninformed. Why? Because luxury, much like streetwear, relies on virality to drive sales. Hajime Sorayama’s robotic sculpture that held court at Dior Homme’s pre-autumn 2019 show was one of the reasons behind Kim Jones’ dizzying success for the brand (aside from his undisputed talent in the art of dress). Similarly, ComplexCon Hong Kong will also serve as a platform for New York-based artist Daniel Arsham to unveil his latest work, which will inevitably draw art enthusiasts in.

Migos and Pharrell Williams at ComplexCon 2023

As the artistic director of the largest international pop culture festival, Verdy clearly has his finger on the pulse of the happenings that are not only shaping the world of fashion and lifestyle, but also driving retail. “To me, pop culture is everything because I grew up in a small town where I didn’t have much access to it. Now, I’m excited to be a part of it and experience different pop cultural moments,” he says. Like many of us, Verdy points out Pharrell Williams’s appointment as creative director of menswear at Louis Vuitton as his favourite pop cultural moment of the past year. “I was lucky enough to go to his first show in Paris. It was amazing to see how much impact he has in pop culture by bringing the biggest names all in one place,” he says.

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Essentially, ComplexCon is about cross-disciplinary collaborations, to which Verdy is no stranger. In 2022, he worked with the venerated Japanese designer Nigo who, aside from leading creative direction at Kenzo, also heads his brand, Human Made. Last year the two collaborated once more, this time under the moniker of Kenzo.
The highlights of the latter collection are matching “pyjama” sets with the brand’s new logo emblazoned all over, denim kimonos and a comically large straw hat.

Kenzo x Verdy capsule collection

“Nigo and I often meet and we’ll share any cool ideas we may have,” Verdy says of their relationship. “I’ve always looked up to him, so it feels great to be working alongside him. It’s such an honour to be able to call him a friend and a mentor.” He also recently collaborated with Japanese streetwear brand Masu. “I wanted to support their debut fashion show in Paris, so I designed a graphic for him to involve in his runway collection,” says Verdy.

The pervasive impact of pop culture on the human psyche can rival that of art. As events such as ComplexCon and figures like Verdy gaining traction, could Hong Kong become a wellspring of pop-cultural phenomena that one day shapes our collective history?

Source: Prestige Online

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