IN the twilight of British rule in Hong Kong, many of the Queen's subjects are turning their weary eyes back towards England, while another set are positioning themselves to invade the territory for the first time. I speak of British fashion designers who are anxious to infiltrate the lucrative Asian market using Hong Kong as a springboard. A British contingent, organised by the Department of Trade and Industry and the BBC's The Clothes Show, is coming to the territory for Hong Kong Fashion Week, which begins tomorrow. Spearheading the British 'invasion' are four well-known labels who entered a competition in order to win the privilege of representing their county in Hong Kong. The four winners are Tomasz Starzewski, already an established name in London's fashion circles; Byrne Menswear, Atomic Clothing Co and Emma Hope's Shoes. These designers, along with several other runners-up, will be touted and flouted and generally have a great fuss made about them by Jeff Banks, fashion bon vivant and co-presenter of The Clothes Show, which will be here covering the event for the folks back in Britain. The British fashion industry has had its ups and downs after coming off its pedestal in the 60s. Back then the whole world had its eyes on London. Starting with The Beatles and working steadily down Carnaby Street, British fashion set the standard for everything fresh and hip. New-age stores such as Biba and young designers such as Mary Quant fuelled the fire of the fashion revolution and invented a look that is still considered the epitome of British fashion in the 60s. In fact, the venerable Quant, inventor of the much-loved mini-skirt and fashion icon in her own right, will be here to lend her name and celebrity to help forward the fight for British recognition in the territory. In addition to their own catwalk show (complete with models especially flown in from STORM, Kate Moss' agency) the British will have their own pavilion as part of Fashion Week. It's big artillery time and the British Trade Commission is giving them all the support they could hope for in an effort to form a united fashion front. If they seem over strategic and even military in their effort to break into the Asian market, it is because they desperately need to. Since the gilded party days of the 60s, the British fashion industry has had to absorb some major setbacks. The dawn of the 70s brought with it a newcomer to the fashion scene: the sobering trend of inflation. British designers had to find more cost-effective ways of staying afloat in an ever shrinking market, or to close shop. The short-lived economic boom in the early 80s provided a much-needed shot in the arm and for a short time there was talk of London recapturing its reputation as the fashion capital of Europe. But it was not to be. By 1989 recession had hit and Britain saw some of its brightest design stars such as Vivenne Westwood and John Galliano flee for the more fashion friendly shores on the continent. With the 90s coming to an end, British fashion designers are looking to the East to help build their reputations as an international fashion force. For most of them, Hong Kong holds the key to success in establishing a foothold in Asia. So until the lights go down and the orders come in, on Saturday, it's anybody's guess how receptive local buyers will be to the newest of British imports.