INNOVATION & START-UP

Hong Kong’s young fashion designers go international

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 October, 2016, 5:58pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 October, 2016, 10:16pm

For many fresh graduates, their career starts with job application letters and interviews. But for 28-year old fashion designer Kenax Leung Ka-kin, his path to success began with a fashion show and an award for his work.

Born into a family of fashion manufacturing, Leung became interested in the design of clothes at a young age. He went on to do a masters degree in fashion design at Hong Kong Polytechnic, graduating in July 2012.

In the same year, he won an award in the Hong Kong Young Fashion Designers’ Contest, organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.

He said: ‘The award has boosted my confidence to achieve my career as a fashion designer. I thus launched my own label.”

Home grown talent is the key to rejuvenating Hong Kong’s fashion industry

Leung is the sole proprietor of the label, called “kenaxleung”. He designs the menswear and womenswear collections, as well as accessories such as sunglasses, for sale online and at a number of Hong Kong retailers that support local designers.

“Some of my classmates joined bigger companies to do the design works for the bigger brand,” he said. “For me, I like the freedom to do my own design. Setting up my own label allows me to have 100 per cent freedom in the artistic sense.”

Leung’s collection is contemporary and incorporates elements of sportswear and ethnic craftsmanship. He counts many performers and local artists among his fans, including singer Eason Chan. Overseas, his clothing is particularly popular with customers from Japan and South Korea, who buy his work online.

Like any start-up, he tries to keep costs as low as possible, so shares an office with seven other designers at the Fashion Farm Foundation. This helps them to exchange ideas and share production techniques.

While lacking a big budget to promote his brand, he has been active in fashion shows at home and overseas, arranged by the Trade Development Council and Fashion Farm Foundation from 2013 onwards.

The government’s HK$500 million fund to promote designers in Hong Kong has allowed him to participate in fashion shows in Copenhagen in February and Paris in March and September.

While many believe Hong Kong designers may struggle to compete with the big fashion houses of Paris, Tokyo or New York, Leung said overseas buyers appreciate the work of Hong Kong designers.

“We found that the French buyers are very open-minded and they found our collection has our local character which is different from the western designers’ work,” he said. “They visit our showroom and try on our collections. They share their views on what sizes, quality and design would fit in the French market.”