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HONG KONG — This city just wrapped up four days of runway shows and trade events with Hong Kong Fashion Week and World Boutique attracting close to 38,000 buyers, in line with last year’s edition.
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council organized the events, which ran from Jan. 13 to 16. Collectively they attracted nearly 1,850 exhibitors, including manufacturers of bridal and eveningwear, denim and knitwear. Many of these companies hailed from Mainland China and Hong Kong, although India, Taiwan and Korea also had a significant presence. In terms of business, sustainability and the rising cost of manufacturing in China emerged as key themes.
Some of the participating designers included Dorian Ho, who launched a uniform design service, and Eddie Lau, who wrapped up a year of retrospective exhibits with a seminar on image design. Nelson Yeung won the Young Designers Contest with a video game inspired collection and will now spend a month working with Paris-based Véronique Leroy, who was a judge of the contest. Other design highlights included contingencies of designers from Indonesia and Japan who came to Hong Kong to boost their international profile.
For this, the 45th edition of the fair, organizers added new zones, among them active-wear, wool and cashmere as well as packaging and design. In the latter section, Hong Kong-based Ever Win Labels expected to see buyers from the US and Europe, but was hoping to gain the attention of Chinese buyers, who were arriving in busloads.
“We’re trying hard to attract more domestic brands,” said Patrick Wong, Ever Win’s marketing director. “That is where the potential growth is in the next ten years — not in the west.”
Such long-term thinking took other forms, too. Craigwood Garment Factory, which manufactures jeans and woven shirts for such brands as Boden and Replay, has expanded beyond its Pearl River Delta operations in order to keep costs in check.
“We have three factories in Southern China and now one in Cambodia,” explained Kenny Huang, sales manager for Craigwood. The company opened its new factory just 8 months ago, replicating the production and quality assurance systems it has in China. Huang said moving production of smaller orders “off-shore” leads to lower cost. “We’ve moved production of our core items, so it’s a much more competitive price. Our customers seem happy to see us investing in the new facility and thinking ahead,” he said.
Thinking ahead was a major theme of the fair, which placed a big emphasis on sustainability and improving pre- and post-consumer recycling as resources become scarcer and more expensive. To that end, Redress, the Hong Kong-based NGO that works to promote environmental sustainability in the fashion industry, held a day-long forum and sponsored a number of events during Fashion Week.
Charles Dickinson, head of global quality management and sustainability for Esprit, called for retailers and brands as well as governments and lobbyists to do more to encourage consumers to recycle textiles.
“The customer will not pay more because an organic tag is on [a garment]. We have found that when you recycle your own waste, it is more or less cost neutral. You create a new collection, reduce waste and do good — no premium is put on the product at all.”
Felix Chung, a member of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LEGCO), said fixing problems requires more conviction than cash.
“We don’t need too much money – we can fix this ourselves. It’s important – especially if we want to tell the world that we are concerned about compliance issues and the environment,” he said. “You can see what’s happened in Bangladesh and Cambodia. It’s not just cost that matters.”