The 24th Hong Kong Fashion Week for Spring/Summer, organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), came to a close yesterday. More than 12,000 buyers from 71 countries and regions attended the four-day fair (10-13 July), where buyer attendance from Japan, the Philippines, the United States, Malaysia, Singapore and Russia recorded considerable growth. Twenty fashion events, including fashion shows, trend forecasting seminars, buyer forums and a networking reception were held during the fair, which explored the latest topics of interest in the fashion industry while generating more business opportunities for industry professionals.
“In addition to being a premier sourcing platform for the industry, Hong Kong Fashion Week is also an important marketing channel for exhibitors promoting new products and fashion projects; and provides an opportunity for industry professionals to gather the latest market intelligence,” said HKTDC Deputy Executive Director Benjamin Chau.
“Although the Internet and social media are gradually becoming mainstream promotion channels, fashion trade fairs are still a dominant platform for conducting face-to-face business negotiations, exchanging market intelligence and showcasing new collections. The HKTDC will continue to offer its unique 4-in-1 integrated marketplace, consisting of trade fairs, the HKTDC Online Marketplace (hktdc.com), product magazines, and mobile app, for promising fashion companies to reach global buyers anytime, anywhere.”
Italy uses Hong Kong Fashion Week as a promotion platform
With buyers coming from around the world, Hong Kong Fashion Week is a major platform for international corporations to promote fashion-related activities. During the fair, the Italian Trade Commission Hong Kong and Assocalzaturifici (Italian Footwear Manufacturers’ Association) jointly organised an exhibition titled “The Seduction of footwear: Italian Glamour,” displaying 50 styles of classic Italian women’s shoes and leveraging Hong Kong Fashion Week to introduce visitors to the aesthetics of Italian footwear.
Annarita Pilotti, President of Assocalzaturifici, explained that Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland together represent Italy’s fifth-largest export market in terms of value. Last year, Italian export volumes to the mainland rose 2.3 per cent; while the total value of exports to Hong Kong increased by 3.5 per cent. It was also found that the average export prices of the two markets were higher than other countries and still continues to rise. “It is because both Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland are such important markets for Italian-made goods that we are keen to stage our promotional road shows in Hong Kong, which allow us to bring the excellence and quality of Italian footwear to the attention of international buyers,” said Ms Pilotti.
Fashion trends mirror social issues
On the first day of the fair, international trend forecasting group Fashion Snoops presented “The Visionary Trends for Autumn/Winter 2018/19 for Women’s and Men’s Wear.” The group pointed out that fashion trends are often closely related to both society and everyday life issues, such as environment protection and immigration.
“The identity crisis brought on by the refugee crisis is a pressing global concern,” said Michael Leow, Asia/Pacific Sales & Marketing Head at Fashion Snoops. “Climate change and world trade have caused an influx of refugees. Although many may not want to approach this subject, we as fashion designers, should explore the issue, let our voices be heard, and galvanise people into action towards a brighter tomorrow.”
To embrace diversity, “Engineered Identity” will be one of the major trends, according to Mr Leow. Each piece of clothing will integrate fashion elements from different countries, alongside sharply contrasting colours and conflicting elements, presenting a world of harmony and one without borders.
The Woolmark Company unveils new fabric
Apart from unveiling fashion trends, the latest technologies were also discussed at other seminars. At the “New Generation of Merino innovation – Wool Denim Wear & Wool Sneakers” seminar, the Woolmark Company introduced its latest denim fabric and its related application techniques.
Brenda Yang, Technical Manager of Dyeing and Finishing at the Woolmark Company, explained that the wool’s anti-perspiration, breathable, anti-odour and warmth-keeping qualities make the fabric ideal for use in sportswear. The high external wear-resistance of the wool also makes it suitable for sports shoes. “It is currently a trend to produce the vamp by weaving, thus many styles can be created,” said Ms Yang. Some manufacturers have even incorporated far-infrared properties into the wool/nylon to relieve post-exercise muscle fatigue.
Ms Yang added that using wool as the principal material for shoes, such as adding it into the sole for warmth or stitching leather with it to create a thick wool-knitted leather or wool-blended fabric, are new trends in shoemaking.
Enthusiastic buyers from US and Thailand
The four-day Fashion Week generated many business and sourcing opportunities for the industry. US buyer and first-time visitor Kakoli Chakraborty Mehra said she was looking for products from Asian suppliers and found exhibitors from Hong Kong, the Chinese mainland, Korea and India matching her needs. She said “I have already placed an order for 5,000 pieces of ladies’ wear from a Hong Kong supplier at the fair,” adding that she plans to place orders worth US$10,000 to US$50,000 each.
Another buyer from Thailand, Thanulux, a garment manufacturer and wholesaler, also identified new suppliers at the fair. Sukanya Sutthivisetpong, Brand Manager for Ladies’ Wear at the company, indicated that she was in the process of negotiating with six suppliers from India, Korea, Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland for women’s casual wear, sportswear and some children’s collections, with initial orders estimated at US$50,000.
Hong Kong exhibitor attracts buyers with a range of silk products
Despite improving global trade conditions, downside risks remain for the global economy. Yet Hong Kong businesses that can offer a wide selection of products can still stand out. Hong Kong company MsEnvy is a regular exhibitor at Hong Kong Fashion Week. Its Managing Director, Jun MK Wong, said that the company showcased a variety of ladies’ collections in silk with 230 styles this year, and met new buyers from Switzerland, Germany, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore and Australia.
“There are buyers exploring cooperation with us to develop new product lines based on their specific requirements and styles. An Australian company approached us to collaborate in manufacturing high-end evening wear. We also met returning customers who placed new orders on the spot.”
New Fashionable Sportswear and Urban Clothing zones attracted buyers
The Hong Kong Fashion Week has been keeping its finger on the market pulse; two new zones have been launched in this edition to cater to market demand. Taiwanese exhibitor, Hyperbola Textile Co, Ltd, from the Fashionable Sportswear zone, branched out to the manufacturing of sportswear, yoga wear and functional wear under its own brand. The company exhibited at Fashion Week for the first time and met with serious buyers from Thailand and Taiwan who were keen to source their lightweight down, windproof jackets and water-repellent outwear on the first day of the fair, and expect to conclude deals in a couple of months.
Meilishuo.com, a fashion e-commerce platform in the Chinese mainland came to the fair for the first time to source stylish women collections for their fashion brand. Its senior Operation Director, Liu Ding, said she negotiated with a Korean exhibitor to source activewear and beachwear, and expected to place orders of 100-500 pieces per style.
In view of the demand for sourcing in small amounts, the show once again set up the hktdc.com Small Orders zone, featuring nearly 100 showcases and garment racks with about 400 products available for orders in minimum quantities of between five and 1,000 pieces. During the four-day event, around 2,700 buyers visited the zone and nearly 4,700 business connections were established.
Hong Kong Fashion Week for Spring/Summer featured some 1,100 exhibitors from 20 countries and regions. The second edition of CENTRESTAGE, a platform for Asian fashion brands and designers specifically to promote their brands and launch their collections, will be held 6-9 September.