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More than 210 fashion brands feature at Centrestage
Sep '17
Fashion brand-promotion and launch platform Centrestage has concluded successfully after featuring more than 210 fashion brands from 22 countries and regions. The four day international fashion event showcased the latest brands and designer collections, attracting 8,500 buyers from 73 countries and regions, up 2.6 per cent over the previous year.

The show held during September 6-9, 2017 was organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC).

Buyers from Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Singapore and Indonesia increased significantly, and Asian buyers accounted for nearly 40 per cent of the total buyer attendance.

"Centrestage is an ideal promotion and launch platform for Asian fashion brands and designers," said HKTDC deputy executive director Benjamin Chau. "We are gratified to see that in its sophomore edition, Centrestage continued to be a focus of attention for Asia's fashion industry."

The event attracted many international fashion brands and buyers, particularly those keen on developing Asian markets. Many up-and-coming local designers also staged fashion shows during the event to showcase Hong Kong's creative designs to buyers and media from around the world. As is the goal of many events organised during the show period, Centrestage also facilitated industry exchange, reaffirming Hong Kong's position as Asia's fashion capital.

The HKTDC commissioned an independent research agency to conduct on-site surveys during Centrestage, interviewing more than 270 exhibitors and buyers to gauge their views on the outlook for the fashion industry and the coming year's product trends. The survey found that the industry is cautiously optimistic about sales in the coming year. More than half of the respondents expect overall sales to remain steady, while about 40 per cent of respondents expect overall sales to grow. Half of the respondents expect production costs or sourcing costs to stay unchanged. While nearly half of industry players surveyed expect sourcing price/production cost increases, more than 60 per cent of the respondents said they would not raise unit or retail prices - reflecting a general tendency in the industry to not transfer increased costs to customers.

In terms of markets, more than 80 per cent of respondents consider Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan to have the best growth prospects among traditional markets in the coming two years, while 75 per cent of respondents see the Chinese mainland as the most promising among emerging markets. More than 40 per cent of respondents favour Eastern Europe and ASEAN markets.

As for product trends in the coming year, 70 per cent of respondents expect womenswear to be the most popular, followed by casual wear and fashion jewellery. Limited-edition collections, brand licensing products and brand crossover promotion were identified as the most prevalent product development strategies in the coming year.

In terms of sales channels, more than 70 per cent of respondents said they are engaged in e-tailing, a significant increase from the previous year, which saw only over half of the respondents reporting they are involved in such business - an indication that the fashion industry is increasingly serious about e-commerce. On average, online sales account for nearly 20 per cent of the total sales revenue. The top product types sold through e-tailing are womenswear, casual wear and menswear.

A number of master sharing sessions were held during Centrestage. At one of the sessions, Jean Colin, vice president of Global Expansion, Fashion Division, Samsung C&T Corporation, which represents the Korean brand JUUN. J, analysed the brand's rise to global fashion prominence. Colin said Juun. J realised his dream of establishing his own brand by partnering with Samsung C&T. The company put together a team to help the brand find its market position, and supported Juun. J to join overseas Fashion Week events, she said.

According to Colin, Juun. J started by designing clothes that he would wear himself without aiming to create genderless designs. But he soon responded to strong female demand for his designs by launching his own womenswear line. Colin said that despite globalisation, which exposes people to different types of information, those who wish to expand abroad must first understand their own cultural background and be firmly rooted in the local market. She pointed out that the colour white that Juun. J favours in his designs is closely linked with his culture, where Koreans in the past could not afford coloured fabric for clothing, and that white projected a sense of neutrality.

First-time exhibitor Hausie Showroom is a newly established fashion company in Hong Kong that represents more than 20 international brands. "The company made its debut at Centrestage this year to showcase a variety of fashion collections, jewellery and bags for over 17 brands we exclusively distribute," said founder Vivian Pang-Williams. "The feedback has been positive. So far, we have found about 20 potential customers from different markets, including Galeries Lafayette from France, Aishti Group from Lebanon, and multi-brand stores from the Chinese mainland."

Hong Kong brand Astra Tailoring also launched a new menswear label at Centrestage. Design director Ayumi Kwan and partner Angus Tsui said the label's zero-waste design and emphasis on sustainability attracted buyers from the Chinese mainland, Singapore, Thailand and Japan. Of those enquiring about their products, about five to 10 were serious buyers, the company said, with some fabric suppliers also approaching them to explore cooperation.

In recent years, Macau has been keen to nurture its design talent. Macau designer Lalaismi Wai joined the Designers' Collection Show at Centrestage to display the designs of her personal label, Pourquoi, to global buyers; and attracted enquires from Japanese buyers.

Nicholas Chong, CEO of fashion retail chain YFS, which operates 138 stores in Malaysia, said his company visited Centrestage for the first time. "I have already identified several Hong Kong designer brands for cooperation," said Chong. "They include fashion jewellery by CIAO and casual wear for ladies by FromClothingOf. I expect to place orders worth about US$10,000 to US$30,000 each with them. The menswear collections by Hong Kong designer Angus Tsui are also appealing. We will explore collaboration to create a new menswear series for the HK$1,000-HK$4,000 retail price market."

Henry Pang, buyer of Halo Designer Chic from the Chinese mainland, found some suitable Hong Kong designs at Centrestage. "One of the brands is Methodology and they will show us their new 2018 spring/summer designs. The potential order is estimated at Rmb10,000 to Rmb30,000. Talks are also underway with another Hong Kong brand, Anveglosa, for new fur designs for fall/winter 2018. I have also found some interesting overseas fashion brands from Chinese mainland exhibitor TUDOO Showroom," said Pang. (SV)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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