Fashion Hong Kong designers wore optimistic faces as their collective looks for fall/winter 2020 walked the runway at Manhattan’s Spring Studios. If they were feeling anxious over the coronavirus, they showed no signs. More concerning to the designers was the state of retail in the U.S. Designers came to New York Fashion Week to open doors — both at department and specialty stores, and their own boutiques. They quickly learned that the fashion and retail industries are in the throes of convulsive change with generational shifts in consumer shopping behavior.
“This is our third time here,” said Lary Cheung, who with Yi Chan designs Heaven Please. “In New York, there are more and more young brands coming. We have three stores in Hong Kong. Brands need ideas, not only with their stores, not only by their clothes, but also their site. In Hong Kong, we have our shops and we make installations at our shops to disseminate ideas.
“Having three stores is very important,” Cheung added. “We’re always looking for somewhere to have a store in New York, really. Yeah, we have an online shop, but it’s not on Amazon or T-mall,” she laughs, “To me, online is a trend.
“We need to invest in stores. We always go to our shops to meet our customers and talk to them and listen to them. I always need their comments and feedback.
“The reason we hope to start more concept stores — or even pop-up stores — is we are sharing the stories and curiosity the brand contains,” Cheung said. “That is the energy of the U.S. Everybody suggests to us that we explore more about e-stores and forget about retail stores, but some emotion and expression is really difficult to express in front of the screen only.”
A spokeswoman for Fashion Hong Kong said the designers are exploring both physical stores and online opportunities. That includes Heaven Please. “I like their style,” she added. “Heaven Please is very elegant. After this show, we’re also taking them to visit a marketplace and have a look at new buyer concept stores that can help them sell. For example, we’re going to Dreams in SoHo, a retail store with consultancy that also offers memberships on a subscription basis.”
For Sun Lam of SUN=SEN, this was her first time participating.
Harrison Wong, the designer and founder of Harrison Wong Limited, said, “This is my fourth time in New York. I don’t think you have a big difference between New York and Hong Kong because in New York you always have a mix and designers from all over the world coming. Hopefully, a lot of buyers are coming from all over the world looking for brands.”
The organizer, Hong Kong Trade Development Council, said that in addition to the show, there was a dedicated Fashion Hong Kong showroom that will operate through March 5.