BEIJING — The first half of 2014 is likely to see leaner, more streamlined apparel and textile trade fairs across greater China, as fair organizers look for new ways to keep up interest amid a softer economic climate.
Fair organizers from Shanghai to Taipei and Hong Kong are expecting similar numbers of vendors and visitors in the first six months of the year as they have encountered of late, but they believe they will face a more discerning customer base. Companies want access to customers who will buy and buyers want goods that stand apart from the pack, whether it be through design or manufacturing techniques.
Mainland China’s economic situation has remained difficult in recent months, with an ongoing slump in the manufacturing sector and softer demand for exports from the U.S. and Europe. It’s all a continuation of the crisis that began in 2008, the great slowdown from which trade show organizers and factory managers say China’s textile and apparel industry never really rebounded in full. Instead, the industry is moving forward leaner and more focused.
There have been some major casualties amid all the revamping. For the first time in 17 years, Dongguan ended its annual shoe products fair, normally scheduled each spring to coincide with other gatherings. In a message on its Web site, fair organizers said, “Owing to the changes of the business environment and the market trend, taking into consideration the interest of exhibitors and visitors, the organizers of the Dongguan China Shoes China Shoetec decided to cancel the exhibition.”
The shoe-manufacturing industry has been particularly hard hit in China, with thousands of factories moving to Vietnam, Cambodia and other countries with lower wages as Chinese workers have gained more rights and better pay.
But all is not bleak. As experts have predicted for several years, China-made textiles and apparel appear to be moving up the value chain, potentially becoming a source of new medium- and high-end clothing.
Some trade show organizers say a growing global interest in indigenous Chinese design, particularly high-end fabrics and clothing, is expected to turn out new visitors looking to buy up the latest trends. Chinese designers have made a splash in the past year, opening boutiques from Paris to Hong Kong and staging runway shows of creations that speak to China’s culture and history.
“Now, our international buyers favor Chinese designers’ brands,” said Delphine Xue, a marketing representative for Mode Shanghai, set for March 13 to 15. “The demand for Chinese brands will definitely increase.”
Chinese-flavored textiles, including patterns and embroidery, will also be hot, several fair marketing managers said, along with fabrics and apparel that use new technology and more environmentally friendly means of production than in years past.
In Japan, overall consumer sentiment has been seen to be improving in recent months, although there is some wariness about the future, as the government has planned to raise country’s consumption tax from 5 percent to 8 percent next April.
Japan’s trade show landscape has seen few developments or changes in recent seasons, with the possible exception of RoomsLink. This fair, which includes both booths and fashion shows, and runs concurrently with Japan Fashion Week, saw visitor numbers in October fall to about 5,500, less than half of the roughly 12,000 it had in March. A spokeswoman for the event said that the drop was due to mainly that in March, 10 brands held their runway shows at RoomsLink, while the October event included only one fashion show.
Tomonori Matsui, organizer of RoomsLink, said the sudden lack of runway shows was due to many brands preferring to show during Shibuya Fashion Festival, an outdoor event held at a local park on the last day of Tokyo’s fashion week. Matsui said that next season, he expects things to even out a bit, with about six runway shows during RoomsLink and five during Shibuya Fashion Festival. Both events are organized by Matsui and his team at H.P. France.
RoomsLink is perhaps one of Japan’s most international of fashion trade fairs, having expanded to include events in Seoul and Taiwan in recent years.
“Next year, I think I want to do a RoomsLink New York. I’d like to pick the best 20 or so brands from RoomsLink Tokyo, Seoul and Taiwan, and bring them over to do a small fair in New York,” Matsui said. “Also, if we can find good partners to work with, I’d like to add events
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye