HONG KONG — Jutta Teschner is expanding her horizons, and in more ways than one.
The managing director and designer of German lingerie brand Fishbelly recently relocated operations to Hong Kong and opened a store. Teschner said securing a retail space and studio was easy — the real challenge has been finding a good intimates trade show in Asia to expand her business. It’s been so arduous that she is preparing to take a novel approach: exhibiting at a porn show this summer.
In Berlin, Teschner was a regular at trade shows and had success at the two key ones in Paris — Salon International de la Lingerie and Mode City. But the difficulty of finding a good trade show in Asia has prompted her to consider showing at the annual Asia Adult Expo here, running Aug. 28 to 30. It has a lingerie section set aside from the sex toys and other more hard-core elements of the show and the organizers have offered her a reduced rate and a special stand, she explained.
“The adult expo has offered me a good package, they want to do something with lingerie so it’s worth a try. The expo isn’t for fashion, but it has potential to gain business for the naughty stuff,” said Teschner, whose brand has been described as a mix between Chantal Thomass and Agent Provocateur, but at a more affordable price point.
“Normally, it’s not my thinking to be in with all that — it’s not what you really want to be involved with. It might not be good for branding, but I may gain some business in a different way,” said Teschner, who will attend Salon International de la Lingerie in Paris in January.
She is also considering attending The Hub in Hong Kong in August, but as there are few lingerie brands involved, she remains unsure. Her other options in the region are two events managed by Eurovet and one in Shenzhen, but these are focused on traditional Chinese lingerie with padded bras, large briefs and heavy shapewear. Eurovet stages Interfiliere Hong Kong in April and Shanghai Mode Lingerie in October.
Perhaps suitable for an adult-themed show, Fishbelly’s pieces are sexy, sophisticated and certainly not shy — there are peephole bras and plenty of quality lace. Teschner is designing a new Asian-inspired collection and recently completed some samples from what she refers to as “the naughty collection” — there are crotchless panties and matching bras in silky fabric with Chinese motifs. Bra-and-panties sets retail for 1,200 Hong Kong dollars, or about $150.
Teschner started her brand in Berlin 15 years ago and said a slowing economy in Europe and a personal desire for change prompted the move to Hong Kong this year. She opened a boutique on Hollywood Road in March and the studio in July.
The designer said she researched the Asian market for 18 months before choosing Hong Kong and spotted a gap in the market for European-style sexy and sophisticated intimates in Asian sizing. Her customers are a mix of Asian and Western women. She said Hong Kong is where Berlin was 15 years ago when she launched the brand.
“In Berlin at that time, there was all the boring lingerie and nothing new or innovative. Suddenly, a lot of new brands came up and there was a new market. People realized lingerie could be exciting,” said Teschner.
In the last month, she’s become aware of the demand for swimwear, particularly more daring pieces for poolside provocateurs.
“Everyone is coming into the shop asking for it. There is not much available in Hong Kong — it’s either crazy expensive or boring. Next season I will focus on swimwear and make it a little sexy,” said Teschner, who is already considering where she will expand to next in Asia, with Singapore, Taiwan and Korea at the top of her list.
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