Hongkonger's artistic solution to plastic bag excess -- wear them

Hongkonger's artistic solution to plastic bag excess -- wear them

Stanley Wong converts Hong Kong's iconic candy-striped bag and helps recovering mental illness patients with his new boutique rwb330

rwb330Hong Kong's plastic bag concept store. Must be the first of its kind.

You know how jeans started as workaday clothes for cowboys in the Old West and have become essential fashion items?

A new concept store, rwb330, is trying to do the same with Hong Kong's plastic bags.

Artist Stanley Wong Ping-pui, who goes by the moniker anothermountainman, has turned the signature red, white and blue-striped plastic canvas bags into handbags and clothing. 

Proceeds from sales go to benefit the New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association, an organization that helps recovering mental illness patients.

“The plastic has become a symbol of industrious and practical Hong Kong," says Loretta Poon Wing-ha, marketing manager of New Life. 

The sturdy plastic canvas has been ubiquitous in Hong Kong since the 1960s.

The pattern can be seen not only in bags, but also as awning for outdoor vendors, for cheap fold up chairs, for protective covering in construction sites and other useful things.

It is a functional and affordable material that represents Hong Kong's pragmatism. Wong has taken the material and turned it into apparel.

Since his "redwhiteblue" series represented Hong Kong at the 51st Venice Biennale, Wong has inspired other creatives to look at the plastic canvas with new eyes.

Louis Vuitton and Porter came out with their own versions of the Hong Kong icon last year. 

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The products at rwb330 are handmade by recovering patients in New Life's network. The staff who run the shop are also former mental illness sufferers.

“It is a place for people in recovery to learn to communicate with others and to build confidence. We also hope to ease the fear of the public towards them,” said Poon.

Prudence Mak, another local artist, also made work to sell at rwb330.

Watch out for creative workshops hosted by artists at rwb330, as well as flower arrangement workshops, particularly appropriate as the shop is located in the Mong Kok Flower Market.

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192 Prince Edward Road West, Mong Kok; +852 2392 5330; open daily 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; www.facebook.com/rwb330

rwb330 "Unloading Your Mind" handbag, HK$680 (about US$88). All products are printed with an inspiring slogan.

rwb330 The rwb330 shop also showcases Stanley Wong's signature artwork.

Hiufu Wong is CNN Travel's staff writer.

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