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Fashion back in fashion

Garments, Textile...FashionCentrestage

Industry insiders quizzed during CENTRESTAGE are bullish on the sales outlook for apparel.



As COVID-19 restrictions ease back across the world and people switch tracksuits for office attire, fashion industry leaders have turned bullish on sales prospects.

To gauge fashion trends and industry prospects, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) surveyed participants at its recent CENTRESTAGE fashion showcase, interviewing more than 290 exhibitors and buyers.

On sales prospects and the market outlook for 2022, 53% of respondents believed their overall sales would increase in the coming year – a significant increase on the 31% who expressed the same sentiment at the 2019 CENTRESTAGE – while 33% expected sales to remain steady.

Of the respondents, 54% expected production or sourcing costs to increase while 40% believed they would remain unchanged. When asked how the pandemic has impacted the fashion business, respondents shared that a drop in sales or revenue (64%), rising sourcing and production costs (27%) and a decrease in the number of physical shops (26%) were the main consequences.

Casual city

Hong Kong Emerging Talents Show
The more than 20 fashion shows held at CENTRESTAGE 2021 included the Hong Kong Emerging Talents Show

On fashion trends, 45% of industry players surveyed expected casual wear and city wear to be the most popular in 2022, followed by fashion accessories (24%) and sportswear (14%). Regarding promotional strategies in the coming year, 70% either agreed or completely agreed that a focus on “seasonless” collections would be prevalent, while 62% expected the “see now, buy now” sales model to be popular.

CENTRESTAGE, organised by the HKTDC and sponsored by Create Hong Kong of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, was a three-day fashion extravaganza held early in September. Comprising 30 fashion events including catwalk shows, it brought together more than 200 fashion brands from 24 countries and regions, attracting more than 2,550 trade buyers and over 17,200 public visitors. Apart from in-person talks, nearly 700 video business meetings were arranged to match global fashion buyers with exhibitors online.

“CENTRESTAGE, the premier annual event in the Asian fashion industry, is the first and largest fashion event staged in Hong Kong since the pandemic began,” said HKTDC Deputy Executive Director Benjamin Chau.

“The fair helped industry participants exchange the latest fashion information and develop their businesses.

“I am pleased to see talented designers launching their latest fashion collections and apparel, showing an endless stream of creativity and vitality.

“The show was fully open to public visitors for the first time, attracting fashionistas and members of the public who follow fashion trends. The atmosphere in the fairground was positive and it was a special experience for everyone,” Mr Chau added.

Chapter Infinity

KanaLili gown by Elva Ni
A KanaLili gown by Elva Ni, a designer who participated in this year’s CENTRESTAGE

The sixth CENTRESTAGE, themed “Chapter Infinity”, encouraged fashion designers to take creative approaches and reignite their design inspiration in the pandemic era, exploring the countless opportunities that lie ahead. The spotlight opening gala show, CENTRESTAGE ELITES, featured the global launch of the 2022 spring/summer collections from local designers Calvin Chan and Joyce Kun’s renowned brand The World Is Your Oyster, as well as acclaimed Korean designer Lee Mooyeol’s brand, YOUSER. For the first time, extended reality (XR) was used to boost the stage show, which attracted many industry professionals, celebrities and fashionistas. The show was subsequently posted on YouTube, with augmented reality (AR) effects employed to enhance the online viewing experience.

Another exciting catwalk show, Fashion Go Places, celebrated the international footprint of Hong Kong designers at international fashion weeks. METHODOLOGY Creative Director Glori Tsui said it was the brand’s sixth year participating in CENTRESTAGE. The company showcased its latest casual collection for women, along with bags and jewellery, attracting much attention and achieving positive results.

Another brand, THAT’S CHONG, which specialises in wedding and bridal accessories, participated in CENTRESTAGE for the first time. Its director Boo Chong said a local exporter approached the company to explore cooperation and introduce its products to overseas markets. She also connected with a supplier selling Japanese ribbons and trimmings that could be used in their latest range of bridal accessories.

Happy buyers

CENTRESTAGE also attracted new buyers such as ITOCHU Textile Prominent, the Hong Kong subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate ITOCHU. Celia Lo, the local unit’s Manager, said she identified two local designer brands for developing the company’s women’s casual-wear business and would place orders averaging 1,000 pieces for each style.

Another buyer sourcing for international markets was Danny Chau, Director of CHEMRO which operates fashion stores in Korea targeting young people looking for new styles. He said he found four new designer brands from Italy, Hong Kong and Mainland China, and expected his company would place trial orders involving 1,000 pieces of each style per colour.

Youthful face

Sparkle collection by Karen Chan
The Sparkle collection by Karen Chan, another CENTRESTAGE designer

CENTRESTAGE closed with the 2021 Hong Kong Young Fashion Designers’ Contest (YDC, main picture) where 10 promising local designers showcased creations at an eye-catching fashion show with celebrities Denis Kwok (aka 193) and Bonnie Wong (aka Ah Jeng) showing up as special guests to add to the celebratory atmosphere.

Following the catwalk parade, a judging panel of industry professionals picked out three winners from a pool of 10 for the four YDC awards.

The Champion and Best Visual Presentation Award went to Cady Lee for her “Emotion the Shift of the Self” collection. It was inspired by the contradiction between imagination and reality, using bold silhouettes and liquid-effect prints to illustrate a surrealist aesthetic.

“I am very surprised to receive these two awards. Even though there were a lot of setbacks during the whole design process, I came to the show today with equanimity. Thank you to all the staff who provided their support over the past two months,” Ms Lee said after receiving the awards, which included a monetary reward together with a one-month overseas internship sponsored by Fang Brothers Knitting Ltd.

Toki Wong won the Excellence Award for his “Zoom Olympic” design, which highlighted how this year’s Olympians coped with the challenge that the games were open to online spectators only.

The My Favourite Collection Award went to Topsy Yu for her “Morning Moon” collection.

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