Hong Kong’s talent showcase goes international
The Fashion Farm Foundation brings together fashion designers under one co-sharing roof in Hong Kong. Some of the results are impressive, with ten labels showing at the Paris spring/summer 2017 ready-to-wear shows, as K reports.
Landing a spot at the Fashion Farm Foundation, the only co-sharing work space initiative for fashion designers in Hong Kong, comes with a few advantages.
It’s a chance for young creatives to have a low-cost, co-working home, and to network with mentors and people in-the-know at The Farm’s 10,000-square-foot (1 000m2) space in Kowloon (Hong Kong)..
There is also the potential to show designs at Paris Fashion Week. And Hong Kong long being the gateway to mainland China, FFF also gives members an advantage in broaching the country’s fashion-hungry public.
Just ask award-winning fashion-forward, menswear designer Kenax Leung. Leung graduated in 2012, when he showed his first collection at Hong Kong Fashion Week, as part of the graduation show from the island’s Polytechnic. He has taken part in many other initiatives since, including FFF’s Fashion Guerilla programme at Paris Fashion Week in March this year. He was one of three designers who participated in a runway show at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.
“The Asian market has been going global, especially the Chinese market,” Leung says. “The buyers from those markets contacted us and arranged meetings in their home town fairs, following on from the Paris Fashion Week showroom for further collaboration.”
His label is now stocked in a number of Chinese outlets, including Pin Pin in Shenzhen; Bian Xing Chong in Wenzhou; Qian Zi in Wuhan City; T.H.E in Chengdu; and Li Yi in Luoyang. Leung was picked to present his autumn/winter 2016 collection as part of a runway show with two other design labels, Injury and Ffixxed Studios.
China calling card
He has had lots of support. “FFF co-organised the runway presentation and showroom participation at MAN/WOMAN [fashion show] last season,” he says. “They helped to arrange the casting and publicity for the runway show and to arrange buyer meetings and interviews with media for the showroom. It was really helpful.”
FFF debuted the Fashion Forward Festival in 2013, promoting Hong Kong fashion design through an array of activities, including catwalk shows, retail events and exhibitions. “Besides local events, FFF continues to engage designers in the international fashion arena. Since 2012, over 30 Hong Kong brands have participated in our overseas programme Fashion Guerilla (HKFG) in Paris, New York, Singapore, Tokyo, Beijing and Shanghai,” says Nicole Choi, formerly chief manager of FFF.
Launched in 2012 as a non-profit organisation, FFF’s remit is to promote Hong Kong fashion designers, at home and abroad, with the help of local creatives and entrepreneurs.
So far, FFF has worked with over 100 labels, including J.E.W.D; Matter Matters; Loom Loop and Methodology. In March, FFF took eight Hong Kong based labels to Paris Fashion Week with each of the labels attending the MAN/WOMAN showroom. As well as those already mentioned, these up and coming designers were promoted: 112 mountainyam; Loom Loop; Methodology, Modement and Vanessa Tao. “It is so helpful to have buyers, fashion bloggers and media visiting the showroom,” says Choi.
For HKFG spring-summer 2017 in September, FFF brought ten designers to Paris, and J.E.W.D had a runway show.
Home is where the heart is?
“The designers of Hong Kong are facing keen competition with foreign brands that many local people perceive as more favourable,” Choi says.
“Running a brand in the long term is not easy in Hong Kong, due to the high cost of rent, labour, production and so on. Though designers in Hong Kong are talented, with their uniqueness and distinct style, opportunities are needed for them to present their designs to local people to change their mind set,” she adds.
Designers are on trend with their international counterparts: “Many designers are focusing on sustainability, including labels like Methodology, which uses upcycled leather in creating accessories, and Loom Loop, which uses eco-friendly fabrics,” she says.
The designers of Hong Kong are facing keen competition with foreign brands that many local people perceive as more favourable.
She notes a number of useful fashion events in Asia, including the Hong Kong and Tokyo Fashion Weeks and the Woolmark Regional Finals.
On home soil, in May 2015 FFF launched Dress Friday to encourage Hong Kongers to wear local designs on the last day of the working week. The promotional campaign featured a wide range of local personalities, including theatre actor Ah Dee and artist Max Chan.
“We are now negotiating with shopping malls, hotels and restaurants for potential collaboration” she says. “This has been a great success.”