CENTRESTAGE, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council’s (HKTDC) new fashion brand promotion and launch platform, ended Saturday (10 September) on a high note. The four-day (7-10 September) international fashion event welcomed some 200 fashion brands from 20 countries and regions showcasing their latest fashion collections. The trade show attracted close to 8,300 buyers from 71 countries and regions, with nearly 40 per cent of buyers coming from Asia other than Hong Kong.
Watch CENTRESTAGE videos here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBrAaPzPW6UrabQPmR11g1LLf9y-YH6Rv
“CENTRESTAGE is an ideal promotion and launch platform for international, especially Asian, fashion brands and designer labels,” said HKTDC Deputy Executive Director Benjamin Chau. “We are pleased that the debut event has captured the attention of the Asian fashion industry, successfully attracting fashion brands and buyers keen on expanding their Asian business to come and promote, source and launch new collections and explore cooperation opportunities. And it provides a platform for local new designers to showcase creative designs to media and buyers in the region. CENTRESTAGE is an effective event for driving regional fashion exchange and development while solidifying Hong Kong’s position as a fashion capital.”
Nearly 60% cautiously optimistic about overall sales; nearly half engaged in e-tailing business
To better understand the industry players’ views on the outlook for the fashion industry and product trends, the HKTDC commissioned an independent market research agency to conduct on-site surveys during CENTRESTAGE, interviewing some 270 exhibitors and buyers. The survey found that most respondents are cautiously optimistic about overall sales in 2017. Nearly 60 per cent of respondents expect overall sales in the coming year to remain steady, while 27 per cent expect overall sales to increase.
Thirty-three per cent of respondents anticipate production costs or sourcing prices to rise, but 65 per cent of respondents said they would not increase the FOB price or retail price, indicating that the industry is generally reluctant to transfer the increased costs to customers or consumers.
In terms of markets, the respondents expect Hong Kong, Japan and Korea to have the best growth prospects among traditional markets in the coming two years, while 60 per cent of respondents consider the Chinese mainland to be most promising among emerging markets.
The survey also sought to understand the product trends of the fashion industry. 60 per cent of respondents consider women’s wear to have the best growth potential, followed by men’s wear and kids’ wear. Nearly half of respondents have engaged in e-tailing business, selling mainly women’s wear (69%), casual wear (41%) and fashion jewellery (12%).
A number of trend seminars were held during the event. Michael Leow, Asia/Pacific Sales & Marketing Head for Fashion Snoops, said “Nowstalgia” will be a key trend in the coming year. The trend blends nostalgic and contemporary elements while incorporating the convenience of modern technology. During another seminar, Erica Ng, WGSN’s Senior Editor, Retail Intelligence, Asia Pacific, said the millennial lifestyle is transforming traditional retail. Retailers will need to find synergies between mobile apps, online shopping, physical retail and social media to effectively capture market share among this generation.
Fashion promotion and launch platform
The survey also found that nearly 90 per cent of fashion buyers consider Hong Kong trade shows a major channel to contact new suppliers. At the same time, 92 per cent of exhibitors use Hong Kong trade shows to find new buyers. These findings indicate that CENTRESTAGE, being a regional fashion promotion and launch platform, is an important channel to promote industry cooperation and generating business opportunities.
French women’s fashion brand Edward Achour Paris was exhibiting in Hong Kong for the first time. Edward Achour, the brand’s designer, said, “CENTRESTAGE offers a great opportunity for our brand to open new markets, and the results have been encouraging. We have met many buyers from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, Indonesia and other countries. Four Chinese mainland buyers even placed orders on-site.”
Hong Kong’s anagram, a brand that specialises in upmarket women’s fashion collections, had come to CENTRESTAGE to develop the international market. Its Brand Director, Winnie So, said, “International buyers have shown keen interest in our brand. We have established connections with wholesalers from Malaysia, Singapore and the US and a distributor from Vietnam. A buyer from New York has already confirmed orders and expects more orders after the show. CENTRESTAGE’s opening to the public on the last day was also an opportunity to promote our brand to the consumers.”
ILOVECHOC is a street fashion brand from the Chinese mainland targeting mainly young customers. The brand has a sales network of more than 300 retail stores across the mainland. Gu Yu, the brand’s Vice President, said they were participating in CENTRESTAGE to expand their sales presence in the international market. “The show has drummed up extensive interest and we have met many buyers from Southeast Asia. A number of buyers from Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia even wanted to explore cooperation. Hong Kong is a major fashion hub in Asia and CENTRESTAGE can bring together industry players from around the world. This platform can certainly facilitate our business expansion.”
Finding new brands
La Rinascente, a long-established high-end department store group in Italy, saw CENTRESTAGE as an ideal opportunity to explore business opportunities in Asia for the first time. “CENTRESTAGE is a platform to find new brands and understand the fashion industry in Asian markets,” said Andrea Bonecoo, Buying Manager, la Rinascente SpA. “The business matching service introduced Hong Kong’s I.T Group to me. We held useful talks to exchange ideas and establish initial contact. We will communicate further to study future business cooperation. This show is the start of our effort to get to know more about Asia.”
Indonesian fashion boutique, Lucy House, joined CENTRESTAGE to source more new brands for its customers, according to Lucy Kurniawan who operates the company. “CENTRESTAGE offers a good platform to meet designers and this visit has generated good business opportunities,” she said. “I am now negotiating with a Hong Kong designer for the evening wear collection. An initial order would involve about 100 pieces in different styles. CENTRESTAGE has brought together some appealing designer brands. I will definitely visit the show again next year.”
Fida Alkaud, a buyer from Harvey Nichols Riyadh, Saudi Arabia came to CENTRESTAGE to look for contemporary evening wear. She said, “I am so happy to have found new brands which suit the tastes of our customers. These brands include Marquess & Homa, Guy Laroche Furs, Shelina and Camelia. I really appreciate HKTDC’s business matching service because it saves me a lot of time finding the right brands. The fashion shows are also very fascinating and I have found b.yu Designs at fashion show.”
Meili Inc. is one of the mainland’s largest fashion e-tailing brands. Margaret Yao, Business Cooperation Director, said she visited CENTRESTAGE to find new brands and explore cooperation opportunities. “The business matching meetings arranged by the organiser generated positive results. I found a Hong Kong designer and a US brand offering some suitable products to sell on our website. I have also identified four fashion brands from Thailand and will be in further discussions with them.”
Lotte is Korea’s biggest department store operator running 40 stores across the country. Hyeon Ji Sun, Lotte’s buyer, said, “I am visiting CENTRESTAGE to find new brands, especially sportswear and lifestyle wear brands. People in Korea love sports and outdoor activities, so demand for related fashion items is very strong. So far, I’ve identified two brands from Hong Kong. CENTRESTAGE is an interesting show where I can see a variation of trendy designs from many countries. I will come again to find more new brands.”