For half a century, Albert Fong Leung-fai has withstood the varying widths of men's suit lapels , survived Hong Kong's journey from British rule to Chinese sovereignty, and weathered the city's struggles through typhoons and stock market crashes. Now 70 years old, the tailor is finally throwing in the towel.
His clientele, half of whom are overseas visitors who stop by to get a suit, shirt or overcoat cut in between business meetings in Hong Kong - while his team of seamstresses and clothiers complete a made-to-measure suit in 48 hours - have disappeared, scared away first by months of anti-government protests, and now deterred by the global coronavirus pandemic.
“I see no future this time around,” in an unprecedented crisis compared with Hong Kong's struggle with the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome, or Sars, Fong said during a recent interview. “The business is so bad that I lost 90 per cent of business in the first four months. It was never so bad in my 50 years of working as a tailor.”
Covid-19, as the coronavirus pandemic is called, has extracted a far greater toll on Hong Kong’s financial markets and economy in seven out of 10 measures, compared with the city’s 122-day brush with Sars 17 years ago, based on calculations by South China Morning Post. The one-two punch from the protests and Covid-19 has pushed the city’s economy into its deepest recession in decades.