Launched in 1977, the annual Hong Kong Young Fashion Designers' Contest (HKYDC) this year has 17 participants in the final round. This year's finals will be held tomorrow with Andreas Kronthaler, creative director of Vivienne Westwood, serving as the VIP judge The organiser, Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), says the annual event aims to cultivate and promote a new generation of young designers who can present their individual styles and unique designs, and build up their own reputations. Past winners include Barney Cheng of Barney Cheng Couture, and Cecilia Yau of Cecilia Yau Couture. Baldwin Pui, recipient of the Hong Kong Fashion Designers Association Award of HKYDC 2002, says the contest is the biggest and most well-known local design competition. Working as the creative director of hoiming, Pui says that the contest gave him a kick start in his career. 'The contest helped me increase the exposure of my designs and, after winning the award, it made me feel that my style of designs were finally recognised, offering me a confidence boost.' Matt Hui, a finalist of HKYDC 2008, says that the contest helped him land a job as well. 'After the contest, several companies asked if I was interested in joining them and Shanghai Tang [where Hui is now working as an assistant designer of woman's wear] was one of them.' Although the competition may have helped designers launch their careers, determination and belief is needed to be a successful designer. It is 'not easy' for designers to be successful. Hong Kong people prefer overseas brands to the local ones and the government does not provide enough financial support to new designers, such as cheaper rent for studios, Pui says.