Hong Kong Fashion Week for spring/summer 2009, a mainstay of the local and global fashion industry, celebrates its 15th birthday today. Organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC), the event showcases the latest products, trends and market intelligence in the world of fashion.
The show runs from today until Friday at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, and there are more than 1,100 international exhibitors under one roof. The event is hosting Diversity in Action, by the Hong Kong New Design Force. Split into a fashion show, which takes place on Thursday and a lifestyle exhibition which runs throughout the fair, the event will project a creative image of Hong Kong fashion and its lifestyle designers.
'The mood of the event will be young, casual, energetic and sportive, which is [in line] with the Beijing Olympics in August,' said aTDC spokeswoman.
The objectives of the show were to help up-and-coming designers gain recognition and connect to clothing enterprises, and to highlight local design excellence and diversity, the TDC spokeswoman said.
The fashion show will highlight the abilities of 16 young Hong Kong designers, including past winners of the Hong Kong Young Fashion Designer Contest and the Hong Kong New Collection Award. The lifestyle exhibition highlights work from 20 designers from diverse areas, including graphic designers, painters, photographers, short film directors and sculptors.
New additions this year include the Fabrics and Yarn zone, showcasing cotton, embroidery, functional fabrics, knitted fabrics, linen, ramie, lingerie fabrics, man-made fabrics, silk and wool, and various fibres and yarns.
Another fashion show highlight is Future Queen by She Fashion Lounge, which introduces the Hu Fashion brand.
Future Queen represents a multicultural approach to designing by Sheguang Hu, a high-profile Dutch-Chinese designer.
'He designed garments worn by Queen [Beatrix Wilhelmina] of the Netherlands on her royal tour of Asian countries,' said the TDC.
According to Maggie Liu, London-based public relations manager for Hu Fashion, Hong Kong Fashion Week is a great stepping stone for making contact with people in Asian markets.
She said that the week gave Hu a unique opportunity to share Dutch creativity and culture, and his distinct Chinese character.
'It is ... an experimental journey for [him] to see whether the Hong Kong and Asia high-end fashion industry appreciates the Dutch-meets-Chinese style,' Ms Liu said.
In addition to business opportunities and fashion shows, Fashion Week serves the fashion industry as an information exchange platform. The event incorporates a broad range of informative seminars on topics such as fashion trends and market intelligence.
According to exhibitors, the event is also an ideal venue for meeting buyers and for opening new markets around the world.
Joanna Maitland-Smith Lhuillier, the designer and director of JM Lhuillier, said: '[The show] gives me an opportunity to show my latest creations ... and the chance to see all the other designers out there. 'It is a culmination of Hong Kong Fashion Week and the premier show for high-fashion goods in Asia.'
Teresa Suk Mun-tsang, marketing manager of Teresina Fashion, another exhibitor at the event, said the absence of export quotas made the fair even more attractive to overseas buyers and customers looking for Hong Kong and mainland suppliers.
'Hong Kong is the bridge between China and overseas customers. Hong Kong is also one of the leading fashion markets in Asia and many designers, merchandisers, production agents, buyers and manufacturers from around the world will participate in this fair, which attracts potential buyers globally,' Ms Tsang said.
Walter Ma, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Fashion Designers Association, said Hong Kong fashion designers were generating collections that were more exclusive and that they had more of a designer feel. This has been given a significant boost by increasing interest from mainland and European customers. 'These buyers have more reach and spend ... and are buying top designer labels and local labels,' Mr Ma said.
However, keen worldwide competition - especially from chain stores H&M, Zara and Mango, which focus on offering reasonable prices and a varied choice - means local designers are challenged to broaden the scope of their products.
'They have to be more fashion-conscious in their collections and more stylistic and futuristic,' Mr Ma said. That said, however, Asian designers are enjoying greater recognition in a vibrant global industry.
The TDC spokeswoman said: 'As China's economy becomes internationally recognised as a strong force, Chinese designers are becoming more popular in mainstream European creative industries. 'The opportunities for designers in the east and west are there,' she said.