HONG KONG — The weak retail environment in Europe could be felt in Hong Kong at the APLF Fashion Access accessories fair with vendors reporting significant declines in sales volumes.
The fair, which took place Sept. 27 to 29 at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre, was fairly quiet with light foot traffic. Vendors said they saw regular clients, but were finding it difficult to find new ones.
Ravinder Pal Singh of Bagmaker, an Indian manufacturer of bags and accessories that sells primarily to Europe, said the company’s order books were down 50 percent.
“They need small, small quantities of items and they work slowly,” he said. In response to the slowdown, Singh said the company has been looking to do more business in growing markets such as Argentina and Chile. The company gets about 20 to 25 percent of its business from emerging markets, up from 5 percent a few years ago.
Concerns about the health of European clients has gotten so bad that one company, Gian International, a New Delhi-based bag manufacturer, started doing credit checks on prospective customers over the last year, said owner Ranji Sarna.
The company hasn’t had to turn away many customers, said Sarna, but the worry is “in the back of our minds.”
Even those doing business primarily in growth markets aren’t inured to the slowdown.
In Style Handbag Manufacturing in Hong Kong, which sells primarily to South America, the Middle East and, increasingly, Asia, has seen sales volumes decline by 30 to 40 percent, despite its focus on growth markets.
Part of the difficulty has been the squeeze on wholesalers, explained Dalip Daswani, director of In Style.
“Wherever there’s a lot of business, mainland factories will open shops there and push down prices. This is a huge problem,” he said. Daswani said retail customers such as chain stores now make up a bigger proportion of his clientele. While retail clients tend to buy higher quality and at higher prices, providing better profit margins to manufacturers, sales volumes are smaller. The other big difficulty, Daswani said, has been escalating labor prices. In Style Manufacturing owns one factory in Guangzhou, China, with 150 workers. With overhead prices what they are, two very slow months would mean disaster, he said. Chinese vendors at the fair lamented being squeezed by both shrinking order volume and rising labor costs.
Manufacturers also noted a big shift into branded products.
“Everybody wants to do a brand,” Daswani said. “People are still buying and they are looking for good brands.”
Indeed, many vendors at the fair showcased their own brands alongside wholesale products. In Style Handbags has been selling its own Annika Rucci-branded bags in Asian markets such as India and Pakistan. The products, made of Italian leather and Swarovski Elements, fill a niche for “bling” that European brands haven’t filled, said Daswani.
Similarly, Bagmaker developed its own brand that it is selling in India. The company, which makes colorful beach, day and evening bags, focuses on colorful evening and day bags for the Indian market.
Shirley Sia of Tribal Crafts International, a Philippines-based bag and accessories maker, said her business to Japanese clients has been fairly steady but difficult in part because of the appreciating Philippine peso. She has been looking into developing a brand to sell in China’s more cosmopolitan cities.
Bright colors were in abundance at the accessories fair and many vendors displayed neons, colorblocking and florals. There were also many ornate designs, with beading, feathers or crystals, which vendors said were popular in select markets, such as in Asia.
“What he has done at Vuitton is really exceptional,” said @gameofthrones’ actress Gwendoline Christie on @mrkimjones’ final show for @louisvuitton. “He has rebooted luxury in terms of making it commercial, viable and contemporary. And most importantly artistic. He has never compromised his artistic vision for the sake of commodity.” (📷: @zefashioninsider)
After seeing a demand for men’s wear from its customers, British contemporary women’s wear label @ariesarise has added a men’s wear component and will launch a unisex collection with @mrporterlive. The 20-piece collection includes jackets, denim, logo T-shirts and more with deconstructed ‘90s vibes. Set to launch on January 18, you can shop the pieces on Aries’ website and on mrporter.com. #wwdfashion
“And so spending so much time with a character who thinks like that, inevitability you try and analyze yourself and go back and think about your own demons and dark chapters that you had in your life,” says @thedanielbruhl of his role in TNT’s “The Alienist.” The show, set in the Gilded Age of New York, also stars Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans. Head to WWD.com to read about how 39-year-old Brühl prepared for the role and why he thinks the show is so relevant to today #wwdeye ( 📷: @Eriktanner)
Now that Celine Dion’s collection has topped $10 million in sales, the pop superstar, fashion icon and newly-minted industry player is eyeing growth in Asia. Read the full report by @tiffanyap, link in bio. #wwdnews #celinedion
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
Among the familiar faces at @off____white’s show was a surprise figure: Japanese artist @takashipom, pictured here on Wednesday morning. Other show-goers included @jerrylorenzo, who spoke about his upcoming project: a @nike collaboration for back to school, with designs inspired by his childhood on the West Coast. Sitting in the front row were Future, Don Crawley, @miguel and more. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: Stephane Feugere)
According to @laurentsai, former “Terrace House: Aloha State” cast member, she didn’t know she was auditioning for the Japanese version of “Real World.” “I was telling a couple of my friends and someone’s like, ‘That sounds a lot like Terrace House.’ I was like, ’No it can’t be.’” Turns out, it was. But Tsai isn’t just a reality star — she’s an illustrator who has worked with Starbucks Japan and most recently, she’s dipping her toes into the fashion world. Head to WWD.com to read about her time on the show, modeling and her art. #wwdeye (📷: @danieldorsa)
More changes are coming to New York Fashion Week: Beginning with the spring 2019 collection, @alexanderwangny will move his New York show to June from September, adopting a biannual schedule with collections shown in June and December. Additionally, the @cfda is planning for an official summer/winter fashion season taking place as soon as June and December 2018. Read more about the upcoming changes on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @slovekinpics)