tommy lei
Who are you and where are you from?
 

My name is Tommy Lei, and the Styleteller of MYBELONGING – a high fashion menswear and personal style publication. Hong Kong raised, LA based. I grew up in the urban metropolis of Hong Kong, specifically within the Kowloon area. It was a great place to grow up; being exposed to city life at an early age made it easier for me to adapt to change. And it was quite a change when we immigrated to the United States and had to quickly assimilate to the Southern Californian lifestyle.

Where do you live now?

Although I spent an amazing two years out on the Westside near Century City, I now happily call the Pasadena area home.

Tell me about your blog and how did you it begin?

MYBELONGING is a digital portal for high fashion menswear (the Yohji Yamamoto meets Tom Ford kinda way) with an emphasis on personal style, luxe travel, intimate events with an accessible but oft-beat tone. I started my blog whilst juggling full-time positions in Marketing and PR – specifically within social media. The blog was originally intended to be an outlet where I’d be openly chronicling my investment items and giving meaning to them. Shortly after a photographer friend approached me to demonstrate how to wear the items, it became a more personal style-oriented – thus the concept of Styletelling (style plus storytelling) was born.

What is your professional background?

Prior to fully committing myself to MYBELONGING, I was working full-time at PR agencies, both corporate and boutique, in the lifestyle, consumer and automobile space. I also served as a digital media consultant on a project to project basis, host and style events as well as offer creative directing on design collaborations.

How did you find your passion for traveling?

To be honest, I am a homebody that prefers intimate experiences among special company. So I discovered my passion for traveling with family or in the presence of friends. I believe traveling is always more memorable and enriching in groups, because you never know what kind of spontaneous reactions could occur. An element of surprise ignites that passion even more.

Where are some of your favorite places in the world?

Hong Kong, New York, Hawaii, Kyoto, Seoul.

What are your top five favorite hotels in the world?

The LINE Hotel, The Peninsula of Hong Kong, The Cosmopolitan, Gramecy Park Hotel, Habita Monterrey.

What are your top five favorite restaurants in the world?

Bestia, Nobu, Man Wah, Alinea, The Commissary.

What are you three favorite fashion brands? 

Acne Studios, Rick Owens, and a tie between Saint Laurent Paris / Balenciaga.

Can you tell us five style tips?

  1. Always go with your gut
  2. Be fearless
  3. Stay true to yourself
  4. Wear it with confidence
  5. Invest, don’t just spend frivolously

Can you tell our readers three ways on how they can maximize their social media numbers?

  1. Be your most authentic self – you are your own brand. What makes you special could be your advantage.
  2. Learn from the best and break the rules – sometimes you have to emulate before you evolve.
  3. Consistency – I can’t stress that enough. It’s important to keep in mind what message you’re trying to send to your core audience and deliver on that consistently.

What does luxury mean to you?

Luxury, to me, means accessibility and exclusivity. It’s access to what’s exclusive, intimate and elevated experiences.

What is your traffic like on your site?

MYBELONGING currently garners 80,000+ unique visitors per month. In combination with our social media platforms, there is a potential monthly reach upwards of 400,000 impressions.

What are some of your favorite travel/luxury sites and blogs?
DuJour Magazine, Man of the World, Architectural Digest, Modern Luxury and, of course, Destination Luxury.

Who is the most stylish person in the world?

Although I look up to Nick Wooster a lot, I believe there’s a stylish person inside all of us. It takes time, effort and patience to draw that out. Personal style is born when you to start being your most authentic self.

Who are some of your favorite entrepreneurs?

Richard Branson, John J. Legere, Steve Jobs, Tim Cook, Marissa Mayer, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Ma, Robin Li.

I love a good self-made success story.

What is your workout regimen? How do you stay healthy?

I usually exercise 2-3 times a week, on top of trying to walk everywhere. I actually prefer the elliptical, because I get right into the zone when my Spotify or Pandora playlist comes on. Having to drive to the gym and wait around for the machines is unnecessarily time-consuming.

What are 3 ways to live luxuriously without spending so much money?

1. Be resourceful – Luxury is making the most of what you already have. Can’t pay for that expensive international getaway? Consider escaping to a local, upscale resort – a getaway anywhere is a getaway.

2. Invest in your network – Your network is your net worth. Sometimes just by nurturing your current relationships could open up doors to more immersive and luxurious experiences.
3. Never buy full retail – Unless it’s a rare or limited edition piece.

What are five travel tips for our readers?

  1. Travel offseason to avoid inflated flight rates and the touristy crowd
  2. Book 47 days ahead of time to purchase your flight at the best value
  3. Use Skyscanner or Kayak to scour
  4. Stay at a boutique hotel that features luxurious amenities and intimate, attentive service
  5. Or better yet, rent an amazing property through Airbnb or VRBO (I recently went MIA for 48 hours at a vineyard estate in Monterey, CA – story here.

Do you participate or promote any charities?

I actively seek and promote charities through designer collaborations. A portion of the proceeds from my LZZR Jewelry capsule collection, Identity, goes directly to The Trevor Project, which funds awareness on suicide prevention amongst LGBTQ youth.

Who do you look up to?

My parents for their sacrificial and tireless work ethic – my dad, despite being in his 70s, is still devoted to his business. He never stops.

My closest friends, both personal and professional, who continually push the envelope in their respective fields. They challenge me to better myself on a daily basis.
In essence, I look up to real people who are fervently dedicated to their craft and live life with purpose.

What are some of your favorite books?

When I was younger, I devoured fiction voraciously – classics like Pride and Prejudice and To Kill a Mocking Bird are just some of my favorites.

Nowadays, I love a good biopic – personal favorites include Grace: A Memoir by Grace Coddington and The Asylum by Simon Doonan. I also love books rooted in social science research – the Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz is particularly life changing and insightful.

What are some of your favorite movies?

An all-time favorite would be hard to name, but it falls somewhere between All About Eve, Mean Girls, Gravity, October Sky, Amelie, Skyfall and Infernal Affairs.

Animation-wise, anything from Studio Ghibli by Hayao Miyazaki takes the cake. He is the embodiment of a penultimate storyteller. 

Describe your ultimate dream home:

My ultimate dream home is ever-changing. For now, my vision of it is a streamlined, angular bungalow with access to a panoramic rooftop and plenty of tall glass windows to let natural light flood through the rooms.

What is one of your most memorable experiences?

It’s hard to single-handedly define this, but most likely when I made my debut on Barney’s New York’s The Window one year within the debut of my blog. It was such an incredible recognition, from one of my favorite retail stores in the world, at the very beginning of my blogging career. I will always look upon that memory fondly and humbly.

What are 3 things you wish you could have told yourself 10 years ago?

  1. Be more fearless and honest with yourself
  2. Seek help and advice from others, when necessary
  3. Failures aren’t mistakes but rather lessons learned
Thanks for the interview, Tommy. Check out mybelonging.com to learn more about Tommy and his ubiquitous taste in fashion.
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