Don’t count China out yet.
While there has been some doubt as to whether China still has its edge as the place to do fashion sourcing and manufacturing, with the Trans-Pacific Partnership looking all but abandoned the country is set to take an even stronger role — possibly negating some of the effects of the last two years that saw some manufacturers move their facilities to southeast Asian countries in search of cheaper prices.
“With the talk of [enacting] TPP, there was a shift away from China and a lot of foreign companies began setting up in Vietnam, so this may be slowed,” said Perrine Ardouin, director at APLF Ltd.
The company has been organizing fairs in greater China for more than three decades. This includes Fashion Access, APLF Materials+ and Cashmere World. At the same time, APLF said it’s witnessing an uptick in the number of manufacturers that are expanding into brand design, reflecting China’s pivot to a more consumption-driven economy.
“At Fashion Access, most are manufacturers, but we have a sector for brands that is growing; OEMs [original design manufacturers], which are moving into ODM [original design manufacturing] and some of them OBM [original brand manufacturing], developing their own brands and they are very attractive,” Ardouin said.
“We are very much in a total transformation,” she said. “When talking about China, I think we must place all commerce in the context that China is in the process of economic transformation. The country is in a transition and we see that very much in our shows.”
In terms of categories, APLF Materials+, a show with roots in leather, is making a big play for ath-leisure by inviting exhibitors specializing in performance fabrics and advanced fashion technologies required to make sports-leaning apparel.
“Ath-leisure has been very strong in the U.S. and Europe, but now you can see it everywhere in Asia,” Ardouin said. “When I was in Vietnam a month ago, I was so surprised to see so much ath-leisure. There were four Adidas shops in the same shopping mall. The younger population is totally on ath-leisure and the brands that are dominating are Adidas, Nike, New Balance
and Under Armour.”
Elsewhere in the region, UBM, the company behind MAGIC in Las Vegas, has taken over organizing one of Japan’s largest fashion fairs. The event, formerly known as JFW International Fashion Fair, will be re-branded IFF Magic starting with its next installment in April.
Formerly run by the fashion publishing company Senken Shimbun, the fair will be re-branded and expanded.
“The name has always been International Fashion Fair, but it wasn’t actually very international in practice,” said Miyuki Yasukawa, an organizer from UBM.
The company hopes to attract more exhibitors, as well as visitors from outside Japan.
For the April edition, IFF Magic will occupy a venue that is twice the size of that of JFW-IFF’s last event in September. It is aiming for 700 exhibitors from around the world, including Japan, the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Italy, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong, targeting 25,000 visitors.
Once considered Japan’s major fashion trade show, JFW-IFF has lost its edge in recent seasons, with Fashion World Tokyo overtaking it as the country’s largest. Yasukawa said the company is hoping that the partnership with UBM and Magic will help put it back on top.