IT IS Asia's leading fashion exhibition and gives the territory's manufacturers and designers a platform to show their talents. Held from January 14 to 17 at the Hongkong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Hongkong Fashion Week 1993 comes at a time of stiff competition in the garment world. In the international marketplace, plagued by recession, Hongkong is having to realign its sales strategies to emphasise its talent for production and export. Mr James Tien, managing director of Manhattan Garments (International) Ltd, believes Hongkong has had to go back to the drawing board in order to combat low-end garment producers in Sri Lanka and Turkey. ''We need to tighten production cost controls to meet existing customer requirements, tap new market potential - such as China's retail trade - and hone our capabilities as the region's leading garment sourcing and servicing centre,'' he said. But Hongkong's clothing industry is still looking very healthy, according to the Trade Development Council, which organises the event. In the first eight months of last year, exports recorded a strong 14 per cent increase (in value terms), with key markets for Hongkong's $95 billion worth of annual garment exports going to the United States, Germany, Japan, Britain, China and Canada. ''From the viewpoint of Hongkong's garment industry, the exhibition provides a platform from which to prove its ability to maintain its production and export edge, despite the current demand downturn,'' said Ms Lucio Carpio Chu, of the TDC. Hongkong Fashion Week is the TDC's largest garment trade fair with 630 exhibitors taking up 910 booths. With more exhibitors bringing in a wide range of quality garments and accessories, the TDC says it anticipates the number of visitors climbing this year to 25,000. The fair will comprise six group shows: knitwear, casualwear, speciality clothing, Hongkong labels and two designers' collections. Knitwear and casual wear will include manufacturers, exporters and designers who specialise in these areas. The speciality section will cover such products as lingerie, silks, leather apparel and bridal gowns. The Hongkong labels show, new this year, has been included to accommodate the increasing number of Hongkong companies, manufacturers and exporters, who now have their own labels. According to Judy Mann, a veteran Hongkong fashion designer, designers and manufacturers are collaborating on a greater scale to produce contemporary collections to rival Europe's leading names. ''I go to Italy and France all the time, and I know that compared to what they are doing, the quality of Hongkong's high-end garment production is excellent,'' she said. The locally-made outfits on show at the fair follow no specific themes but a long, sleek silhouette shines through in many of the designs, interpreted in a variety of styles, using interesting fabrics and details such as sequins, embroidery and beading. From manufacturer Nihonbashi Holdings comes Signature, designed by Simon Choi, Montage by Mosaid from Robert Pollexfen and the Joseph Ho label. Ho has used wool crepe for his A-line jackets. For the Hongkong labels category, Highborn Co has produced men's and women's co-ordinates in both woven and leather materials. The company will present a ''romantic poet'' theme, based on masculine basics interpreted on streamlined, feminine shapes. Materials used include colour plaids, flannels, twill and leather. In the knitwear category, Mintilex Knitters has come up with Russian-inspired wool ensembles featuring diamond-shaped motifs ornamented with gilt buttons over long black skirts. Location: Middle Kingdom.