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Buyers' Bonanza(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 10,2007)

Hong Kong Fashion Week (Spring / Summer)

 

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Busy buyers in search of sourcing opportunities and scintillating styles found what they were looking for at Asia's foremost fashion fiesta

There is nothing quite like a well-organised and equally well-attended trade show to help build business, according to Antalok Merchandising Pte Ltd Managing Director Joseph Antal.

"Mainly, we are looking for medium-priced goods for men, women and children that can be sold in department stores and chain stores," the Hungarian businessman said at the recent Hong Kong Fashion Week for Spring/Summer 2008.

He was also seeking suppliers who can handle smaller quantities. "I always work with Hong Kong-owned companies in China because we need someone who can control production and quality," Mr Antal explained. "I can always find something new, see the trends and the new colours - in fact, about 15%-20% of our yearly business comes from this fair."

He was an equally firm believer in the various product magazines published by Hong Kong Fashion Week organiser, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC), such as Hong Kong Enterprise, Hong Kong Apparel and Hong Kong Footwear.

"I look at Hong Kong Enterprise, Hong Kong Apparel and Hong Kong Footwear regularly," Mr Antal said. "These three magazines are excellent - especially the shoes magazine."

The TDC's new on-site Buyer Enquiry Service that provides fair visitors with a list of companies, their contact details and booth numbers courtesy of www.tdctrade.com also won an admirer. "They gave me three companies that are usable," Mr Antal explained. "I have had serious negotiations with these companies."

Hong Kong Apparel magazine is also enjoyed by Lara Mills, owner of Vogue & Dance Fashion of Perth, Australia. "The layout is beautiful and the quality is wonderful."

Her company manufactures dance wear and she was primarily sourcing material. "I'm also interested in looking at some jewellery accessories," added the first-time fair attendee.

She admitted that she was gaining a lot of experience by attending Hong Kong Fashion Week for Spring/Summer 2008. "I went to the Sydney fashion fair but this event has a lot more to offer - more booths and more overseas exhibitors," Ms Mills enthused.

Hong Kong Fashion Week also found a fan in Zbigniew Wandzel, President of Polish company Ravel, a casual wear retailer with a chain of 45 shops in Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine and another 25 franchised shops. "I've been to this fair a number of times - I think it's a good source for suppliers from the mainland and India," he explained.

"We design, manufacture and sell under our own Ravel brand and want to find suppliers who can manufacture goods at a reasonable price and in sufficient quality."

He also receives Hong Kong Apparel and Hong Kong Fabrics & Accessories. "They're quite useful because we look for the contact list of suppliers and manufacturers," Mr Wandzel explained, and noted that he "sometimes" uses TDC's online services. "But we need to talk face-to-face and the fairs definitely help us find people."

Meanwhile, Norihasa Matsuo, President of Tokyo-based Senso Unico Co Ltd and Vice President of the Kansai Fashion Association was looking into the possibility of a booth at the fair for both his company and the association.

"I am looking for companies that can produce our company's items on an OEM basis," he said. "I'm also looking for partners - not only to produce items but also to design or develop new fabrics."

The biggest advantage in attending Hong Kong Fashion Week was the ability to do several things at the same time. "I can buy artificial flowers for the flower arrangements in our shops, contact designers and see factories."

Senso Unico creates bags, shoes, scarves and accessories, and sales have been up nearly 20% in the last year. "Tunics are selling very well for spring and summer," Mr Matsuo said. "Overall, the trend in Japan is towards prints, brighter colours, more feminine styles and leggings."

He thought the main trend in the future would be between extremes - for example, between elegant and casual. "There is more and more strong competition in the market, so strengthening our branding is the most important thing for us," Mr Matsuo admitted.

TEXT BY ANDREA PAWLYNA

STEALING THE SPOTLIGHT

The global spotlight was once again on Hong Kong Fashion Week for Spring/Summer 2008 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from July10-13.

The 2007 event:

  • attracted a record 1,147 exhibitors from 19 countries and regions -including seven group pavilions from the Chinese mainland, India, Korea, Macau, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan and first-time participants Russia, Spain and Turkey
  • hosted 64 missions with more than 2,250 international buyers from around the world
  • showcased a broad array of fashion, accessories and garment-related products, including apparel and handbags, shoes, fashion jewellery and fabrics
  • introduced three new theme zones - Infant and Children's Wear Zone, Emporium de Mode (quality clothing) and Spice Arena (fashion accessories)
  • saw the return of the popular Body and Intimate Wear Zone, Bridal and Evening Wear Zone, Garment and Accessories Mart and Fashion Gallery, which spotlighted high fashion from around the world and the work of more than 50 designers from Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea and Taiwan

Another fair highlight was the Hong Kong New Fashion Collection Award 2007, a seven-year-old competition that encourages Hong Kong companies to work with local designers in building brand collections.

The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) also organised fashion shows and parades and seven professional seminars on such hot topics as fashion, colour and fabric trends, as well as marketing trends in Chinese mainland fashion.

A new customised sourcing service - tdctrade.com sourcing - was also introduced to help buyers locate the exhibitors and suppliers they need with precision and ease.

Fashion is one of Hong Kong's most important industries, total exports of clothing and accessories increasing 3.6% to US$10.1bn in the first five months of 2007, with the US, the UK and Germany the top three markets.