Environmental concern isn't only limited to using less paper and water, or reminding yourself to switch off the lights - it has now wedged its way into the fashion business. The autumn edition of Fashion Access, the trade show organised by APLF, is holding a Sustainable World zone, showcasing eco-friendly fashion products to highlight this trend to buyers. Fashion Access is held twice a year, in March and October. It showcases a variety of fashion products including bags and leather goods, footwear and travel, fashion and lifestyle accessories. For the latest edition, 354 exhibitors from 24 countries and regions are displaying their products at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai from today until Thursday. There are nine international group pavilions and 60 first-time exhibitors, including Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand and the United States. More people nowadays shop with a conscience, taking into consideration what materials are used and how products are made, according to Perrine Ardouin, senior event manager at APLF. She said Asian consumers and manufacturers still lagged behind Europeans in this respect but were slowly catching up due to the influence of new laws being implemented in other countries. An example of European environmental laws is the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals, which is a European Union regulation implemented in 2007. Besides the Sustainable World zone, APLF has also invited Anita Ahuja, founder of Conserve India, to talk about her business. Her Indian company turns non-biodegradable plastic bags into a wide range of fashion bags. Conserve hires and trains women from the urban slums of Delhi to pick up plastic bags from the streets. It uses a method called upcycling to create handmade recycled plastic for fashion bags. Other fair highlights include the Bags and Footwear zone, which will showcase a wide range of the latest trends. Fashion Avenue offers buyers a selection of branded designs covering trendy high-quality footwear, bags and lifestyle accessories. Design Zone showcases fashion designers' latest and innovative creations. The Best of APLF Awards are presented by a panel of international judges to the companies that stand out in categories such as innovation and creativity, commitment and quality. Fashion seminars will be held today and a half-day forum on sustainable fashion will be held tomorrow. The forum will take a pragmatic approach and focus on different issues. Fashion Trends Lounge presents the upcoming products for the spring/summer 2010 season, selected from fair exhibitors, while Material Trends Lounge showcases the colour and material trends for autumn/winter 2010, presented by APLF. For specific product trends, APLF also has a forecast for the spring/summer 2010 season that is divided into four sections: air, earth, water and fire. Air represents the modern world of the 21st century, comprising products such as multifunctional bags and luggage, one-bar shoes and chic sleep masks. Authentic well-being (earth) is reflected in products such as suitcases with a retro trunk look, gaucho or cowboy boots and antique-style headbands. Water describes an energetic yet relaxing atmosphere. Products include flashy reflecting bags, ergonomic sandals and clear plastic umbrellas. Earth represents enthusiasm for festivals and enjoyment reflected in products such as evening tote bags, metallic leather sandals and sequinned coin purses. Although Fashion Access is not as big as other international fairs, it does have a special factor: Hong Kong. According to Michael Duck, director of APLF, Hong Kong has the potential to be an international fashion capital. 'With its uniqueness of free movement of capital, low taxes, intellectual property rights protection, easy set-up of sourcing offices, an international retail scene and its location next to the most active buying market worldwide, Hong Kong can be the Asian Milan or the Asian Paris,' Duck said. He said Hong Kong lacked only one thing that fashion capitals had - the city's promotion of its own fashion design image. Hong Kong boasts numerous international designs, yet its own designs cannot be compared with the popularity of French or Italian designs. For the first time this year, APLF is collaborating with Polytechnic University's Institute of Textiles and Clothing for a project named Hong Kong's Got Talent. Selected designs from the institute's graduates will be showcased at the fair. Through this event, APLF hopes to slowly build up Hong Kong's fashion image and stand side by side with the other two major fashion capitals in the near future.