Want to be a fashion designer? Then pay attention during fashion week

By John Kang

Fashion week isn't just about pretty dresses; it's also a great chance for research and learning

By John Kang |

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Dawn Bey has a passion for fashion

It's the middle of fashion week - Milan Fashion Week to be precise. Fashion week is a week-long event for fashion designers to showcase their upcoming collections. It provides inspiration for fashionistas and highlights next season's trends.

For fashion students like Dawn Bey, who is also an award-winning fashion blogger, they offer the opportunity to learn about the manufacturing process, which is crucial if they want to make their own designs. "There are lots of booths, which is important for design students because you see manufacturers and their samples of fabrics," she says. "It's great for research because you get to know the latest materials."

Fashion weeks also provide networking opportunities in the fashion industry. "You have to mingle and network, which is so important in the fashion industry," says Bey. "Don't be shy. You have a great opener anyway - 'nice dress!'"

The most famous fashion weeks take place in New York, London, Milan and Paris. There are fashion weeks here in Asia, but they aren't as well known, even though Hong Kong Fashion Week is the biggest fashion event in Asia and the second-largest fashion week globally.

Bey is currently a third year fashion student at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) - Hong Kong. She has a business degree from the National University of Singapore, but has chosen to pursue her passion for fashion.

She has been to all the major fashion weeks in Asia, including Hong Kong and Shanghai. "But it didn't feel as if I was in the fashion capital of Asia," says Bey, talking about Shanghai Fashion Week. "From what I've read, I know that the Chinese have a problem with styling themselves. They just want to fit in with everyone else, like whatever is on a mannequin."

It wasn't just the lack of fashion sense, but also the lack of fashionistas, that disappointed Bey. "You expect way more stylish people at Shanghai Fashion Week, just because Shanghai is the so-called 'fashion capital of Asia'," she says. "I didn't see many celebrities or even paparazzi."

Another reason Shanghai Fashion Week didn't live up to Bey's expectations was because it felt cheap. "There were actually people touting tickets, and this really cheapened the event because you're at a fashion show in a beautiful dress, but you're bargaining the price down with old men with big bellies," she says. "The glamour was just gone."

So then why does Bey think Shanghai is still known as the fashion capital of Asia? It all comes down to money. "Money talks the loudest, and [Shanghai Fashion Week] is the one pulling all the luxury brands in," she explains. "Luxury brand Valentino created a whole great collection, and showed it only in Shanghai and only sold it in Shanghai."

Bey found Hong Kong Fashion Week to be much better for fashion students. "The atmosphere is great. You get really excited at Hong Kong Fashion Week because there are so many paparazzi around, and it's really stylish," she says.

"Hong Kong takes more pride in design. They look to design with more respect. The way people dress or [their response] when you tell them you're a fashion designer, they show you more respect. As a design student, I learned the most from Hong Kong."

Originally from Singapore, Bey also went to Singapore Fashion Week. It exceeded her expectations, as the Lion City isn't known for its fashion.

"The shows are just pure glamour," she says. "But if you compare fashion throughout the year, Hong Kong is still more fashionable. [Singaporeans] will only bring their dress just for fashion week. As a city, Hong Kong is more fashionable. Just look at Mong Kok."

Let's take a look at how fashion in Hong Kong has changed over the years.

First, let's go back to the 1950's

Take a trip to the soulful '60s

Flash-forward to the swingin' '70s

And finally let's check in with the looks of today

Milan Fashion Week ends tomorrow. Hong Kong Fashion Week for Spring/Summer is July 6-9.