By and  on October 15, 2009

HONG KONG — The boutique denim textile fair Kingpins drew a large crowd of potential buyers and praise from exhibitors during its first showing in Asia.

The debut took place at the W Hotel Hong Kong on Oct. 7 and 8, drawing more than 200 visitors on the first day, including representatives from major brands, manufacturers and retailers such as Marks & Spencer, Gap, Li & Fung, Marc Jacobs, Polo Ralph Lauren, Eddie Bauer and Target.

Of the 17 exhibitors presenting the latest innovations in denim manufacturing and processing, 14 were regulars at the Los Angeles and New York editions, including dye manufacturer TTI, supplier Hantex Denim, textile manufacturer Fen and garment finishing expert Jeanologia.

Andrew Chan, senior sales executive with Hong Kong-based Central Fabrics, said although business has been slow, the company is focusing on creating new products for the next year.

“We put 30 percent of our profits back into [research and development],” Chan said. “In this economy, having a unique selling point becomes very important. Aside from bi-stretch denim, which was a market-driven development, we have also started weaving colored yarn to create different washes.”

Kurabo Japan Denim also has pushed the development of new fabrics as a strategy to stay ahead of its competition.

“If we try to cut costs by making basic products, then our customers can easily find cheaper suppliers and manufacturers in China that can copy our styles,” said Hisaya Shiga, sales manager with Kurabo.

Hong Kong denim producer Prosperity Denim noted U.S. clients are leading the way in the demand for environmentally friendly fabrics, mainly organics and recyclables. Vincent Qin, sales director, predicted that business would pick up in the coming year, adding that buyer interest from the first Kingpins show was strong.

Event organizer Andrew Olah said attendance surpassed his expectations and were significantly ahead of the New York edition. He believes subsequent editions of the show here could draw more than 300 buyers.

“The location is stronger because it’s global,” Olah said of the decision to introduce a version of the show in Hong Kong. “It’s the hub of global manufacturing, so you have a lot of European, Japanese and American brands, and retailers have their buying offices located here.”

Olah said he plans to return to Hong Kong next year with two shows and will add more local exhibitors to the lineup. He also is considering the launch of a Kingpins show in Shanghai.

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