From bags and jewellery to belts and scarves, today's fashion houses have to work hard to keep up with the latest trends Fashion trends are changing so quickly that there is even a proper name for this phenomenon - Fast fashion. This is reflected by the many exhibitors at this year's Global Sources China Sourcing Fair: Fashion Accessories, which runs from today until Monday at AsiaWorld-Expo. Nitesh Sakhrani, chief executive of British fashion company Elite Creations, one of the exhibitors, said that people followed fashion trends so closely these days, they got rid of the latest and trendiest purchases as quickly as they bought them. 'Fast fashion has developed over the past 10 years, and we've grown on the back of it,' Mr Sakhrani said. 'We've noticed trends that stay around for only three or four months. You have to get on it, sell volume and get out at the right time. Every month there is something different.' Elite Creations sells belts, handbags, scarves, jewellery, swimwear and other accessories aimed at the value and mid-market segments. To keep one step ahead of customers, the company's designers are not just designers. They have to be in 'the in crowd'. They watch the catwalks at fashion shows, read celebrity magazines, shop, visit clubs and fashion hot spots in Britain, Miami, the Mediterranean and other regions to spot trends and pick up new developments. 'We have grown to become a fast-fashion house, with our own in-house design teams, making fashion trends accessible to the everyday consumer,' Mr Sakhrani said. He said that as the company developed its product lines, it looked for new customers beyond its wholesale base, and it had built up an impressive line of retail customers around the world, ranging from value to mid-market retail chains, as well as several concession stalls in Britain's high street stores. 'Wholesaling is a stock game, meaning you need a place to put it all, while retail is made to order so you have less risk and the number of cancellations or returns is minimal. It's a much more profitable business model.' Another exhibitor, Kalencody, a jewellery manufacturer with more than 20 years' experience, also spotted the fast fashion trend 10 years ago. The company originally made handbags as gifts to go with its jewellery, but started its own handbag line in 1996 when it saw the huge growth potential of this market. Company manager Bonnie Yuen said the demand for handbags had increased every year since. 'In the past, people used the same handbag almost every day,' she said. 'Now they use a different handbag every day. 'The handbag has become the most important item in the whole outfit, and it is the first thing that people notice on you. People are ready to spend a fortune on bags.' Ms Yuen said although many new handbag factories had opened in China in recent years, Kalencody's business had not been affected much. 'Not many companies produce crystal handbags in as high a quality as we do, as we are also a jewellery manufacturer,' she said. Half of the company's business comes from trade fairs. Ms Yuen, said since joining the China Sourcing Fair in 2003, Kalencody's client base had grown, and it closed new orders at every fair. Hung Mei is another company that has developed new product lines in recent years. With more than 55 years of history, the company originally specialised in hand-made, embroidered tablecloths - a very delicate craftwork. But many of the skilled workers grew old and left the industry, and the young generation did not want to spend a long time learning the craft, preferring the many other career opportunities that have opened up in the mainland in recent years. 'We pay competitive salaries to skilful workers in order to keep them,' said Celia Sze Ching-yuen, a designer at Hung Mei. 'Still, it doesn't help much. With fewer workers, it takes us longer to finish an order, sometimes as long as a year.' Hung Mei now makes fewer traditional handmade tablecloths, and has installed machines that can do half the work instead. Inevitably this has reduced the human touch that makes the company's products stand out. In a strategic move, Hung Mei started to make evening bags, evening dresses and scarves to widen its market. The company was also pushed to do this because there were new factories in the mainland that were even willing to make losses with their first orders in order to establish themselves. It was impossible to compete with them on price, said Ms Sze. 'We compensate with our attitude and our service,' said Ms Sze. 'We often design products for companies before they ask us to. 'It helps to keep a close relationship with the companies and it helps push the companies to produce a larger variety of products. 'We earn more and consumers can have a wider range of choices,' she said.