Digital transformation and a shift to sustainable operations are developments that are impacting most industries across the world – and fashion is no exception. This was amply demonstrated at the 2022 edition of Asia’s premier fashion event, CENTRESTAGE.
Organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and sponsored by Create Hong Kong (CreateHK), which is backed by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region*, CENTRESTAGE drew to a successful close on 11 September. The fashion extravaganza brought together more than 240 brands from 15 countries and regions, offering visitors a trip through numerous phygital (physical-digital hybrid) experiences, including visits to the metaverse.
More than 2,700 trade buyers visited the physical fair and joined online business meetings. By the close of the physical fair, the HKTDC had arranged about 740 business meetings, enabling exhibitors to explore business opportunities both online and offline. The three-day fair also attracted more than 22,500 public visitors to shop for fashion items – an increase of 30% on last year’s attendance.
HKTDC Deputy Executive Director Sophia Chong said: “Technology has become an integral part of our lives. In this digital era, the fashion industry has been at the forefront and is making forays into the area where technology meets fashion, opening up new possibilities for the industry. At the same time, environmental protection remains a topic of global concern and an imminent issue to which businesses need to respond. ‘Inclusion and Diversity’, the central theme of this year’s CENTRESTAGE, not only emphasises individual uniqueness and aesthetics, but also promotes caring for society and the pursuit of sustainability in fashion to achieve diversity and gain forward momentum in the industry.”
An on-site survey during the show gauged product trends and the fashion industry’s outlook. Respondents were generally positive on sales prospects, with 28% expecting an overall increase in business in the coming year, while 39% thought it would remain steady, reflecting cautious optimism among industry players. More than 50% of respondents expected production or sourcing costs to increase while 44% saw no change. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the industry's operations over the past two years; 66% of respondents indicated the impact included a decline in sales/profits, while 28% reduced the number of bricks-and-mortar stores and 38% expanded their e-commerce business.
Focusing on technology to address environmental and sustainability issues is the biggest trend in the fashion industry, with 30% of respondents expecting sustainable fashion or functional outfits to be the most popular next year. In addition, 62% agreed or completely agreed that launching sustainable fashion collections will be the key promotional strategy next year. Meanwhile, 42% of respondents agreed that seasonless fashion collections was trending, while 41% believed the see-now, buy-now strategy was also on the rise.
This year’s CENTRESTAGE attracted 60 local and global sustainable fashion brands among other labels, showcasing cutting-edge designs and trends in sustainable fashion. At the Fashion Hong Kong Runway Show held on the first day of the event, six local designer brands – namely 112mountainyam, ANGUS TSUI, Bettie Haute Couture, BLIND by JW, SUN=SEN, and V VISSI, showcased their environmentally friendly spring/summer 2023 collections using upcycled fabrics.
Local buyers included ITOCHU Textile Prominent (Asia). Celia Lo, Manager of the company’s apparel department, said the event helped promote Hong Kong designer brands. She found Hong Kong sustainable fashion label, V VISSI, which uses recycled fabrics in its collections, to be very appealing, saying ITOCHU will explore business collaboration with the label.
Hong Kong exhibitor Match Showroom showcased 14 sustainable fashion and lifestyle brands at CENTRESTAGE this year. The company’s Founder and Brand Director Maggie Lui said the fair offered a comprehensive platform to promote brands that embrace sustainability, upcycling and the use of natural fabrics.
“We have successfully raised our profile, enhanced the brand awareness and promoted our philosophy on sustainable fashion and lifestyle products through our presence here. Two watch companies exhibiting at the concurrent Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair approached us to explore the possibility of collaboration. This is the perfect place to gain exposure and to promote our brands,” Ms Lui said.
The three-day exhibition featured 30 fashion shows and events. The spotlight opening gala show CENTRESTAGE ELITES included the 2023 spring/summer collections from local designers Derek Chan and Mite Chan’s renowned brand DEMO, as well as acclaimed Japanese designer Hideaki Shikama’s brand Children of the discordance. The show attracted scores of industry professionals, celebrities and fashionistas.
In addition to the main runway show, FASHIONALLY Collection #19 featured a number of local brands, including ARTO., CAR|2IE, FromClothingof, KEVIN HO, Lapeewee, REDEMPTIVE and WHY. Lenzing Group, headquartered in Austria, is a leading supplier of textile fibres. The company’s Global Head of Digital Brand Marketing, Vincent Leung, said Hong Kong is a hub in Asia and has the edge as a platform for businesses expanding into Mainland China, explaining that the fair is a great place to understand the latest market trends and discover local rising fashion talents.
“Hong Kong’s young fashion designers have strong potential for growth,” Mr Leung said. “We have already collaborated with local brand ARTO., and identified two other designer brands – ABI and moonone – we will work together with on launching new collections using our sustainable fibres.”
FASHIONALLY held three other presentations, with emerging local fashion brands – Wilsonkaki, Kowloon City Boy and VO-YAGE – showcasing their latest collections. Focusing on the supply and trading of high-end yarn from Japan, Sawada Hong Kong is a well-established garment manufacturer with a history spanning 54 years. Vivian Tam, the company’s Manager, said CENTRESTAGE helped fashion industry players explore new partnerships and opportunities. The company connected to two local menswear brands, Sred Namal and VO-YAGE during the fair to explore future collaboration.
*Disclaimer: The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region provides funding support to the project only, and does not otherwise take part in the project. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in these materials/events (or by members of the project team) are those of the project organisers only and do not reflect the views of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau, Create Hong Kong, the CreateSmart Initiative Secretariat or the CreateSmart Initiative Vetting Committee.