MILAN MANIA SHOWS COMING TO SINGAPORE
Byline: Courtney Colavita
MILAN — Singapore may not carry the same fashion cachet as Hong Kong, but the Singaporean government is hoping to change that through a series of fashion events that will target Asian consumers craving new names and feature European designers.
One of these initiatives, Milan Mania, running July 25 to 28, will highlight a select stable of Milan-based designers. Organizers have invited Neil Barrett, Victoria Grantham, Lawrence Steele, Victor Bellaish, and D Squared to come to Singapore and put on a series of runway shows and presentations during the four-day event. The Singapore Tourism Board is paying for the cost of the trip and the presentations.
“We wanted to choose names other than the big, established brands,” said Charity Gina Cheah, an organizer for Milan Mania. “Asians tend to stick to the usual names, like Gucci, Prada and Armani, but we felt if Madonna could wear D Squared in her video and Lawrence Steele could dress Jennifer Aniston on her wedding day, why wouldn’t Asians be interested in these designers as well?”
Sponsored by the Singapore Tourism Board and the Italian embassy, Milan Mania is not only a way to highlight these independent designers, but according to organizers, a vehicle to promote the nascent Singapore fashion scene. In past editions, organizers featured designers from London and Paris.
For the designers involved, the draw is twofold: exposure and tapping into new markets.
“Asia in general is an exciting market for us, but Singapore is even more so. There’s a great potential there,” said Victoria Grantham, who will present her spring-summer 2002 line at Milan Mania. “It seems they’re really interested in bringing new blood to the country. With that kind of energy you can only move forward.”
Neil Barrett, who has been selling in Singapore’s Club 21 since his first season, said the event would help further his relationship with retailers. “We don’t advertise and that’s a very conscious choice, but this is a way to help more clients understand and see the product,” Barrett said. Barrett will show a mix of men’s and women’s looks from both the 2001 and 2002 seasons.
While both organizers and designers agree that a cooling Asian market does present a challenge, they’re confident the long-term effects will prove fruitful.
“Asia may be in the midst of financial insecurities, but there’s this dedication, this true desire from the [Singaporean] government to promote Singapore as Asia’s fashion capital,” Cheah said. “By continually pumping in money and publicity, something positive will result.”