[Sponsored Article] For young fashion designers starting out on their careers, it is no easy feat to make the jump from fashion runway to store rack. So the Hong Kong Young Fashion Designers’ Contest (YDC) organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) has been a boon to aspiring local designers who hope to translate their creations to looks that will sell on the global stage. Upscale retailer JOYCE has been a key player in nurturing these young talents. By sponsoring the “New Talent Award” as part of the YDC, JOYCE offers specialist guidance for budding fashion designers on launching a collection, whether it’s the finer details of design execution or how to package and market a collection. This year’s winner Yeung Shun-leong impressed judges with his Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)-inspired collection “Übermensch,” or “superhuman”, a term coined by philosopher Freidrich Nietzsche. Bringing elements from the combat gear of judo, fencing and boxing, Yeung created jackets in oversized silhouettes and outfits incorporated with arm bands, straps, zippers and even high neck-pads and tie belts to endow the wearer with a sense of strength and empowerment. “I want to express a feeling of ‘experienced’ throughout this collection, that is, the sense of one who has gone through a lot of training, faced much hardship, and earned his battle scars,” explains Yeung. To achieve this, Yeung, who graduated from Nottingham Trent University just last year, employed techniques such as stone washing and waxing to create a lived-in, worn out look. Clean lines are eschewed for imperfect silhouettes. JOYCE’s Head of Merchandising and the judge for the “New Talent Award”, Michael Mok, thinks the “Übermensch” expresses exactly what Yeung describes. “This is a very strong collection with a very consistent theme. What really stood out for me are the little details: the embroidery, the straps, and the jacket—these are all powerful elements. I like how he focuses on the details, which you may not notice on the runway but will see on the actual piece of clothing,” comments Mok. As a key buyer for JOYCE, the fashion industry veteran imparts invaluable advice on spotting designers with potential. “The criteria I used as a judge is based on designer creativity, the materials, the fabric, and considerations such as: is it commercially viable? Will a customer buy it on the store rack? Is it suitable for the HK market? And of course, the price, functionality, and workmanship,” says Mok. Although Mok is pleased to observe the high standards of this year’s YDC contestants, he personally prefers designers who have their own identity rather than being overly influenced by overseas designers. The finalists are the “best of the best,” and Mok eventually settled on Yeung because he liked the color, material, strong image, consistency, and its acceptability for the local market. Last year’s winnerArto Wong, selected by , nearly sold out her collection after exhibiting it for one season at JOYCE. Both Mok and Yeung sees great challenges facing today’s fashion designers, whether it is finding a good manufacturer, locating funding sources, working with a retailer, or structuring their collection. “Young local designers today need a lot of consulting and advice on how to make a merchandising plan and develop their own label. They may succeed in developing a single collection, but there’s the question of how to structure the next season’s collection, and then the next, and the next. Nobody can teach them,” explains Mok. “YDC designers may have conceptual knowledge in manifesting their inspirations, but lack in knowing how to execute, package, sell, and promote their clothes. Like Michael said, how can a designer continue their line beyond the first season to the second, and to the third? These are all things I need to learn,” Yeung adds. Yeung feels lucky to have the experience of working with JOYCE but sees he has much further to go and more to learn. Rather than jumping into a launch of his own label to feed into the market, Yeung is planning to follow a few different designers and learn from them, and work in different aspects of fashion to gain a wider perspective of the fashion industry. “I would like to accumulate experience from different fashion jobs to better understand the market, especially the future trends of mainland China. Then, I will start a label based on market demand,” says Yeung. The Übermensch capsule collection is now available at JOYCE Pacific Place. For more information, please visit JOYCE x YEUNG SHUN LEONG Capsule Collection Stay tuned for the next edition of YDC which will be held on Sept 7th, the last day of fashion event CENTRESTAGE at the HKCEC.