A multi-hyphenate and fashion icon, Anson Lo of Mirror speaks to Stephenie Gee about his new brand ALLOVER, spreading love and staying true to himself
It’s hard to overstate the popularity of Anson Lo. The multi-talented singer, dancer and actor, who first broke onto the scene in 2018 as one-twelfth of the Cantopop boy group sensation Mirror, has a social media following in the millions.
For his 26th birthday, his fans, or Sontos – meaning “followers” in Cantonese – as they’re called, splashed more than HK$1 million on birthday greetings that included a giant billboard display in Tsim Sha Tsui and an LED display on a cruise ship. On the same occasion last year, they sponsored a day of free rides on the Star Ferry as well as bus fares for senior citizens and rides on the Hong Kong Observation Wheel.
His seventh single, “Megahit”, garnered over 10 million views in less than three months. A and at the 2021 Mnet Asian Music Awards, one of the most prestigious annual awards ceremony in South Korea, he was named Best New Asian Artist (Mandarin), becoming the first Hong Kong artist to achieve the accolade.“
My fans are called “Sontos”, which is an English name I gave them last year or the year before,” says Lo from his suite at The Upper House. “It’s very simple but I find it very cute that they have a routine to say ‘I love you’ to me every day through social media or through Telegram groups.
Some people might find it silly, but I think it’s a cute thing for them to do because all they want to do is to encourage me every day and let me know that I’m loved by them and by a lot of people. They remind me that despite all the hardships that I’ve been through, I’ll be okay because so many people love me and support me. They give me energy every day.”
Now, in a sense, Lo is returning the favour through his fashion brand ALLOVER – a portmanteau word of his initials AL and LOVER.
Three years in the making with production commencing last February, the 14-piece debut collection “Before We Were Strangers” of unisex T-shirts, sweaters, sweatpants, baseball caps, bucket hats and a denim jacket rolled out according not to seasons as is the usual custom, but in a chapter format akin to a novel or T V series, is a manifestation of everything Anson Lo.
“For chapter one, I wanted to show the real side of me to my audience and to my fans. An nd if you know me, on a daily basis I always wear black, white and grey and I want them to know that my first launch is ver y genuine and I will put out something that I would definitely wear with them,” he explains. “And these 14 pieces basically represent what I’ve loved these past four years and what I’ve been wearing on a daily basis. It’s simple, classic, elegant and very comfy. I want my fans to relate to that and my day-to-day lifestyle when they buy it and wear it themselves so that, in a way, they can feel like that they are with me together every day too.”
Lettering of short, sweet quotes the likes of “At least we are under the same sky”, “For you, I was a chapter. For me, you were the book,” and “When you put the jacket on me, the moment freezes,” that take shape on the garments offer a romantic, fashion-forward accent.
“I want people to feel loved,” the 27-year-old says. “ALLOVER is not about trends, it’s all about love. You can always go and try to follow the world’s fashion trends at the moment, but it’ll get tiring. Just follow your heart. If you love yourself enough and if you love your outfit that day enough, then that’s your fashion. It’s all about love. And I want to share this idea with the world. I want my fans to wear ALLOVER and be able to feel loved and feel confident in themselves and their own bodies.”
Why did you decide to start your own fashion brand?
When I was a kid, I always went shopping with my mom. I’ve always liked to pick and mix and match everything myself whether it be in terms of colour or style. I’ve always had my own taste in fashion and when I grew up and entered this industry, I learned more and more about fashion and what I love and don’t love. And around my second year of being in this industry, I knew I wanted to start a brand that I would 100 per cent believe in as well as all of its items, and where ever y detail is 100 per cent from me and my thoughts.
You designed all the pieces yourself – how does being a performer feed into the way you design?
Performing is a very big topic because I always wear different types of clothes of different colours and styles depending on the song. Entering this industry as a performer has given me so much courage to try more and also have the courage to be myself.
What were some of the challenges of starting your own brand that you encountered along the way?
Before starting this brand, I always thought that designing was easy because I didn’t know anything about the clothing industry. I always just thought that all I need to do is draw a picture and choose a fabric. But now I realise it’s much more than that. I have to communicate back and forth with all the different clients and people like the designer, management team, social media team and also marketing. So in order to make the brand successful, it’s not just about the design. It’s also about my own ideas and the ideas of everyone who is involved [with] the brand.
And how has your vision of ALLOVER evolved after understanding that so much more than drawing on a piece of paper goes into creating a successful brand?
For this first chapter, it’s a bit more laid-back than I thought it would be because at first I wanted to create something that, while very daily and comfy, was eye-catching with a lot of colourful details on it. But it’s very difficult to create those kinds of designs in such a short period of time, so I cut back a little and made it simpler. But, I stayed true to myself and I also insisted that every item must have a small detail. So on every item, I insisted that we attach a small metal logo on different areas of the items, which I think is simple but makes them look classy.
You mention staying true to yourself – how would you describe the Anson Lo DNA? What is core to you?
The core to me is to be myself at all times. Because, in my industry, everyone has their own taste and preferences and everyone has an opinion about you, good or bad. At the beginning of my career, I found it very difficult not to be affected by other people’s opinions and hateful comments. And sometimes I would try to hide my true self and not do certain things that might trigger people to make even more hateful comments towards me. But for the past year, I realised that staying true to myself is important and what that means is doing what I like all the time. Maybe on the stage when I’m performing, if I want shake a hip, then I’ll shake a hip. If I want do a wave, then I should do it because that’s me and that’s me wanting to do it at that moment. So staying true to myself is my core now.
Clothes have been a big part of your life since a young age – what role do they play in your life and how do they affect the way you feel?
Clothes definitely affect the way I feel every day. If I wear something black, then that will make me feel chic and like a cool guy. But if I’m wearing, say, a shirt or a white knit, that would make me feel like a gentleman. And I think that’s very normal because different colours and different types of fabric affect your whole impression.
Texture was one of your main focuses for this collection – could you tell us more about the materials you used?
For the knitwear, I chose a fabric that is not very thick because in Hong Kong, we always feel hot on the streets and not many people would want a very thick knit. I chose a very thin, butter-soft fabric to create that knit, which is very comfy and won’t make you feel extremely hot or extremely cold. And then for the T-shirts, I have three different ones. Aside from the fabric, I focused on the sizing because I want to make it unisex but also so everyone can choose their most suitable size. So the black and white T-shirts come in a regular fit but the grey one is oversized if you feel like you want to wear a bigger fit. I really thought about trying to include as many people’s preferences as possible.
What are some other details that you’d like to highlight?
Each item will come with a care label that I personally designed with an encouraging or loving sentence on it that I hope will make you feel energised and loved. And also on the denim jacket and the sweaters, there are some love sentences like, “For you I was the chapter, for me you were the book.” Romantic sentences that round up the whole love concept, which I think people will find cute.
What can we expect from ALLOVER’s chapter two?
I can’t spoil too much, but I will have a special chapter, a special edition and a special event. Stay tuned!
What’s next for Anson Lo?
In 2023, fans can expect me to do more movies and TV dramas. Music-wise, I’ll be putting out more songs, compared to the past couple of years. And the dance songs this year will be even more fun. Last year’s were more on the darker side, about the struggles and hardships that I was going through. This year will be lighter and I want everyone to have fun with me. As for life goals, it’s to take care of my family. I want to make them feel comfortable and I want to buy them a very big house with my dog Amber in it. I want to make them happy. Happiness is a very big topic, but I know deep down that as long as I’m happy, then they’re happy too.
Also see: Inside Cover: Denis Kwok x Esprit