Asia’s premier fashion event CENTRESTAGE, organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and sponsored by Create Hong Kong (CreateHK), which is backed by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region*, drew to a successful close on 11 September. The extravaganza brought together more than 240 fashion brands from 15 countries and regions, offering visitors a trip through numerous phygital experiences, including visits to the metaverse. More than 2,700 trade buyers visited the physical fair and joined online business meetings. As of today, the HKTDC has arranged about 740 business meetings, enabling exhibitors to explore business opportunities both online and offline. The three-day fair also attracted more than 22,500 public visitors to shop for fashion items, up 30% from last year.
HKTDC Deputy Executive Director Sophia Chong said: “Technology has become an integral part of our lives. In this digital era, the fashion industry has been at the forefront and is making forays into the area where technology meets fashion, opening up new possibilities for the industry. At the same time, environmental protection remains a topic of global concern and an imminent issue which businesses need to respond. “Inclusion and Diversity”, the central theme of this year’s CENTRESTAGE, not only emphasises individual uniqueness and aesthetics, but also promotes caring for society and the pursuit of sustainability in fashion to achieve diversity and gain forward momentum in the industry.”
Industry cautiously optimistic, nearly 30% expect sales growth
An on-site survey during the show gauged product trends and the fashion industry’s outlook. Regarding sales prospects and the market outlook for next year, 28% of respondents expected an overall increase in business in the coming year, while 39% thought it would remain steady, reflecting a cautious optimism among industry players. More than 50% of respondents expected production or sourcing costs to increase, while 44% saw no change. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the industry’s operations over the past two years; 66% of respondents indicated that the impact included a decline in sales/profits, 28% reduced the number of brick-and-mortar stores, while 38% expanded e-commerce business.
Focusing on technology to address environment and sustainability issues is the biggest trend in the fashion industry, with 30% of respondents expecting sustainable fashion or functional outfits to be the most popular next year. In addition, 62% agreed or completely agreed that launching sustainable fashion collections will be the key promotional strategy next year. Meanwhile, 42% of respondents agreed that seasonless fashion collections was trending, while 41% believed the see-now, buy-now strategy was also trending.
Riding the tech wave to promote sustainable fashion
This year’s CENTRESTAGE attracted 60 local and global sustainable fashion brands among other labels, showcasing cutting-edge designs and trends in sustainable fashion. At the Fashion Hong Kong Runway Show held on the first day of the event (9 September), six local designer brands – namely 112mountainyam, ANGUS TSUI, Bettie Haute Couture, BLIND by JW, SUN=SEN, and V VISSI, showcased their environmentally friendly spring/summer 2023 collections using upcycled fabrics. ITOCHU Textile Prominent (Asia) was one of the local buyers in attendance. Celia Lo, Manager of the company’s apparel department, said the event helped promote local designer brands. She found that Hong Kong sustainable fashion label, V VISSI, which uses recycled fabrics in its collections, is very appealing, saying that ITOCHU will explore business collaboration with the label.
Hong Kong exhibitor Match Showroom showcased 14 sustainable fashion and lifestyle brands at CENTRESTAGE this year. The company’s Founder and Brand Director Maggie Lui said the fair offered a comprehensive platform to promote brands that embrace sustainability, upcycling and the use of natural fabrics. “We have successfully raised our profile, enhanced the brand awareness and promoted our philosophy on sustainable fashion and lifestyle products through our presence here. Two watch companies exhibiting at the concurrent Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair approached us to explore the possibility of collaboration. This is the perfect place to gain exposure and to promote our brands,” Ms Lui said.
Host of runway shows promote local design talents and create business opportunities
The three-day exhibition featured 30 fashion shows and events. The spotlight opening gala show CENTRESTAGE ELITES included the 2023 spring/summer collections from local designers Derek Chan and Mite Chan’s renowned brand “DEMO”, as well as acclaimed Japanese designer Hideaki Shikama’s brand “Children of the discordance”. The show attracted scores of industry professionals, celebrities and fashionistas.
In addition to the main runway show, FASHIONALLY Collection #19 featured a number of local brands, including ARTO., CAR|2IE, FromClothingof, KEVIN HO, Lapeewee, REDEMPTIVE and WHY. Lenzing Group, headquartered in Austria, is a leading supplier of textile fibres. The company’s Global Head of Digital Brand Marketing, Vincent Leung, said Hong Kong is a hub in Asia and has the edge as a platform for businesses expanding into Mainland China. The fair is a great place to understand the latest market trends and discover local rising fashion talents. “Hong Kong’s young fashion designers have strong potential for growth,” Mr Leung said. “We have already collaborated with local brand ARTO., and identified two other designer brands – ABI and moonone – we will work together on launching new collections using our sustainable fibres.”
Three other FASHIONALLY presentations were held, with three emerging local fashion brands – Wilsonkaki, along with first-time exhibitors Kowloon City Boy and VO-YAGE – showcasing their latest collections. Focusing on supply and trading of high-end yarn from Japan, Sawada Hong Kong is a well-established garment manufacturer with a history spanning 54 years. Vivian Tam, the company’s Manager, said CENTRESTAGE helps fashion industry players explore new partnerships and opportunities. The company connected to two local menswear brands, Sred Namal and VO-YAGE during the fair to explore future collaboration.
* Disclaimer: The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region provides funding support to the project only, and does not otherwise take part in the project. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in these materials/events (or by members of the project team) are those of the project organisers only and do not reflect the views of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau, Create Hong Kong, the CreateSmart Initiative Secretariat or the CreateSmart Initiative Vetting Committee.