The 2019 edition of Asia’s premier fashion event, CENTRESTAGE, drew to a successful close yesterday. The four-day event (4-7 September), organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), brought about 240 fashion brands from 23 countries and regions to Hong Kong and attracted close to 7,000 buyers from 74 countries and regions.
Those from Europe and Latin America recorded growth, reinforcing the show as an international promotional and launching platform for fashion brands.
“As a premium fashion event in Asia, CENTRESTAGE attracts many brands and buyers. It serves as a platform for industry players to exchange information and designers and brands to promote their products. A number of fashion shows were held during the fair period. Local designers and international brands showcased an incredible creative force, further raising Hong Kong’s status as Asia’s fashion hub,” said HKTDC Deputy Executive Director Benjamin Chau.
“The HKTDC organised 36 buying missions comprising over 1,500 international fashion buyers to visit the fair, and pooled additional resources to strengthen business matching between exhibitors and buyers for more business opportunities,” he added.
Survey shows celebrity endorsement is effective strategy
The HKTDC commissioned an independent research agency to conduct an on-site survey during the show to gauge future product trends and the outlook for the fashion industry. Interviewing more than 300 exhibitors and buyers, the survey found the respondents believe that celebrity and key opinion leader (KOL) endorsement (40%), brand licensing (40%) and crossover (39%) are the most common and effective product development and sales strategies. On product trends, the survey found that 65% of the respondents expect casual wear and city wear to be the most popular product categories, followed by fashion accessories (18%) and high fashion (10%).
Nearly half of the survey respondents expect overall sales to remain steady, and more than 30% expect growth in the coming year. Fifty-seven per cent of the respondents expect sourcing prices or production costs to remain steady, while 35% expect growth. Sixty-five per cent of the respondents said they would not raise unit or retail prices, reflecting the general hesitancy in the industry to transfer the cost increase to customers.
European buyers looking for new Asian brands with potential
The central theme of CENTRESTAGE 2019 was “Future Tribes”, showing that designers’ efforts can make a fearless future by creating new identities through the use of culture, images and aesthetics as well as making modern and fashionable brands. In recent years, many Asian fashion brands have been entering the world fashion stage and gaining favour with buyers. The French boutique store Handsome Paris SAS sells about 60 fashion brands in France. David Kang, General Director of the store, came to CENTRESTAGE to inject more diversity in the store’s brand collection. He said that he learned more about Hong Kong brands through FASHIONALLY Collection #14 fashion show, and was interested in DEMO and NERCO POON’s designs. He also found VVISSI and will negotiate further after the fair. He expected to place initial orders of US$5,000-10,000 with each.
Raising the popularity of young fashion brands
More than 20 fashion shows were organised during the show’s four-day run. The spotlight opening gala show CENTRESTAGE ELITES saw the global launch of pre-spring 2020 collections on the runway from Hong Kong designer Anais Mak (Brand: ANAIS JOURDEN) as well as acclaimed New York designer Joseph Altuzarra (Brand: ALTUZARRA), attracting more than 1,000 industry players, celebrities and fashionistas. It was followed by the Fashion Hong Kong Runway Show, featuring the latest Spring/Summer 2020 collections of Hong Kong designer labels that have participated in international fashion weeks.
One of the participating local labels, MEIKING NG, has participated in CENTRESTAGE since its first edition in 2016. June Ng, Founder and Chief Designer of the label, said that, as a Hong Kong designer, she enjoyed the home advantage in being able to grasp the opportunity to release her latest collection at the signature Fashion Hong Kong Runway Show, which is a desirable event to gain media exposure. She was also impressed by the HKTDC’s extensive publicity campaign and business matching meetings, through which she met with buyers from Italy and Ningxia and Wuhan in Mainland China. A buyer from an upscale department store in Paris was also interested in her label’s sunglasses collection. She noted that the event helps in building connections and finding partners.