6th December 2022 – (Hong Kong) To flash their status and exquisite taste, most elite women in Hong Kong only shop for Hermès or Chanel (considered by many as second tier brand to Hermès). 60-year-old Priscilla Ku Kei-kwan, an ex-TV presenter-actress (known as “Boss Ku”) and currently the managing director of Bossku investment Limited is no exception to those who aspire to reside on the highest levels of the social ladder. Many women in Hong Kong and around the world see Hermès as the reward or symbol for financial success, and the representation that they are entering a “higher-class social status”.
Ku has been in love with Hermès for many years, and there are many limited editions in her collection. She once said in an interview, “I don’t know the answer, it’s like I am being poisoned, I have to buy it when I see a bag”. A few days ago, she revealed the Hermès-themed Christmas tree at home. Under the tree, there were many large and small orange boxes. Micro Kelly and Birkin bags were found hanging on the tree. In addition to the common calfskin, there are also micro bags with lizard skin and crocodile skin. Each of them is estimated to cost around HK$40,000 to HK$50,000. There were around 12 micro Hermès hung on one side of the Christmas tree. Together with those hanged behind the tree, there are at least 20 micro bags used for the whole Christmas tree, with a total price of more than HK$1 million. In Christianity, Christmas tree is symbolic of birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The tree’s branches and shrubs are viewed as an emblem of immortality and are said to symbolise the crown of thorns worn by Christ on the cross. This tree adorned with Hermès bags does not seem to carry such meaning and it can be interpreted as a show-off of wealth and status but not devotion to Christianity.
Ku married Lung Hau-yin in 1986 and gave birth to a son in 1986. Her ex-husband worked in the information technology industry. However, in 1989, due to work, she had been separated from her husband who worked Canada for a long time, they officially divorced in 1997. In 2003, Ku re-married again, to Owen Chan Sze-wai, the global senior vice president of Cisco Systems and the Chairman and CEO, Cisco Greater China. In the following year after marriage, she devoted herself to the business world to pursue more wealth. In addition, in addition to having a biological son, a stepdaughter and a stepson, she also adopted two orphans and sponsored four children through Po Leung Kuk.
Dr. Tom McDonald, a media anthropologist and associate professor from HKU spoke to Lucia Zhu from Shroff.com to talk about why Hong Kong women love Hermès. “If you just need to carry something, you could use an IKEA bag. And this will fulfil your need for carrying objects. But that is a very narrow view of what need is,” says Dr. McDonald, “We have all kinds of needs. We need to be recognised. We need to feel comfortable amongst our friends or when we’re out on the street… Sociologists or anthropologists realise that human kinds are complicated. It is difficult to rank only in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. People do feel that they have genuine needs and social reasons for something like this and they do want to use it in all kinds of ways in the relationship. When we look a bit closer, we may find it’s not just about showing off.” “It can be very easy to look at people’s practices on the surface. Often, we tend to find that people’s reasons for doing things are often less concerned with, say, American debutante or any celebrity, but perhaps more concerned with the immediate things to them, like their friends and their social relationships. For example, they might be doing it because their classmates are doing it.” “When we see these kinds of practices, it is actually grounded. We’re always trying to make sense of people’s behaviour in the context of their own lives and in the context of what they do.” “The problem here is that the money is being used in the way that it maybe shouldn’t be used, or that some people feel that it shouldn’t be used. It kind of depends on how you see things. Different groups of people may have different standards and to kind of acknowledge the complexity of these kinds of consumption choices. There is no simple answer. ” Dr. McDonald concludes.
Meanwhile, some of Ku’s followers on Instagram had concerns about the extravagant display. One of them said that “Hope the boxes will be re-used to avoid wastage, then it’d be more meaningful.” Another follower echoed the same sentiment, hoping they could be repurposed after Christmas “in the spirit of caring for the environment”. Another netizen commented, “For what?”