Hong Kong, a pivotal city in the fashion industry, has become the hub for incubating talents. Fashion Asia is a dynamic programme dedicated to fostering the growth of Asian Fashion across diverse realms and uncovering the untapped potential of Asian fashion and designers. A recent noteworthy event, The 10 Asian Designers To Watch exhibition, highlighted the creations of acclaimed Hong Kong designer Robert Wun and introduced fashion talents from different corners of Asia who merit greater recognition. Embrace the vision of Fashion Asia and discover the boundless potential of Asian fashion!
How did your past experiences influence your career trajectory within Fashion Asia and what made you decide to join Fashion Asia in the first place?
Kennis: Throughout my career, I have always had a deep passion for the fashion industry and remained committed to this field. This dedication led me to explore various roles and opportunities within the industry, and gained valuable insights along the way.
As I continued my journey in the fashion realm, I realised the immense potential for growth within the Asian fashion landscape and this motivated me to join Fashion Asia. I am driven by the opportunity to contribute my skills and expertise to the industry, facilitating connections between designers, brands, and fashion leaders. Joining Fashion Asia allow me to play a crucial role in nurturing and enhancing the fashion ecosystem, fostering growth and innovation within the Asian fashion community.
Could you share insights into the origins of Fashion Asia in 2016? And have the goals and strategic directions evolved since the inception of Fashion Asia?
Kennis: Fashion Asia aims to reinforce Hong Kong’s position as the Asian hub for fashion trade and business development and position itself as the leading fashion conference in Asia.
Over the years, Fashion Asia has expanded its vision to encompass broader objectives. Today, Fashion Asia strives not only to connect marketers and retailers but also to foster collaboration and knowledge exchange among various stakeholders in the fashion ecosystem. With such evolvement, Fashion Asia is becoming a multifaceted platform that facilitates connections and knowledge sharing for the collective advancement of the industry as a whole.
What is the main mission of Fashion Incubation Programme (FIP), and how does it relate to the other programs offered by Fashion Asia?
Kennis: FIP is a programme that inspires, empowers and supports emerging fashion designers and brands.
Launched in 2017, FIP brings together industry heavyweights and practical resources to help designers develop entrepreneurial skills, expand creative potential, and build their reputations.
It is the only fashion incubation programme in Hong Kong that offers a comprehensive range of support services, while it also facilitates collaboration between emerging designers and industry, potential customers, and other key stakeholders to build valuable networks.
Fashion Asia has been committed to exploring local young talents. Each year, Fashion Asia will host the Hong Kong Showroom to display the exquisite designs of local design talents from FIP, providing them with new opportunities to showcase their work and gain exposure in the fashion industry.
Many of these participants are gradually gaining international exposure and recognition, and some of them have been honoured with the 10 Asian Designers’ To Watch Award hosted by Fashion Asia, of which all the winners are handpicked by the renowned industry leaders. An example of the success achieved through this initiative is Christian Stone, one of the winners of 10 Asian Designers To Watch in 2023. Christian Stone, a graduate of FIP, has demonstrated exceptional talent and potential, and his
achievements serve as an indication to the effectiveness of Fashion Asia’s efforts in fostering local talent.
Fashion Asia arranges various professional forums, exhibitions, and avenues to showcase the flourishing fashion design industry in Asia and Hong Kong. Could you share insights into specific forums that have left a lasting impression on you, inspiring new perspectives or ideas?
Kennis: One of the most memorable forum sharing that has left a lasting impression on me is the sharing session by Robert Wun, a renowned couture designer originally from Hong Kong and a former winner of the 10 Asian Designers To Watch. His presentation at the 2023 forum was truly remarkable.
Robert shared his personal journey and the challenges he faced while establishing his own brand. His passion for fashion design and the story of determination despite the various obstacles he encountered was very inspiring.
He also provided valuable perspectives on the evolving fashion landscape in Asia and Hong Kong. His innovative approach to design opened my eyes to new possibilities, and it proved the immense potential of the fashion industry in Asia.
Could you provide insights into the behind-the-scenes aspects of The 10 Asian Designers To Watch and the significance of the exhibition?
Kennis: We will first invite the curatorial panel to review and give advice on the initial list of emerging designers of Pan-Asian heritage complied by Fashion Asia team researchers. Upon receiving the confirmed list, we will send that to the judging panel where judges will pick 10 final designers with ranking. It is worth noting that members of both the curatorial and judging panels are prestigious leaders from the industry. For example, Mr. Andrew Wu, President of LVMH Group, Greater China, Ms. Julie Gilhart, Chief Development Officer of Tomorrow Ltd & President, Tomorrow Projects, Ms. Sophie Brocart, CEO of Patou and Mentoring Director of LVMH Prize, etc. were our previous judges.
As a member of the judging panel, they are invited to rank a list of designers curated by the curatorial panel based on the below criteria:
– Current presence in Asia & market development
– Creativity and freshness of the creative concept
– Quality background and storytelling
– Collection focus and quality
– Ability to develop new narratives
– International attraction capabilities
– Technical know-how and performance
– Media exposure, awards, project partnerships
What are some of the most exciting trends and developments you’re currently seeing in the Hong Kong fashion market that you’d like to share with our readers?
Kennis: Hong Kong is definitely becoming one of the hottest destination for luxury brands, as demonstrated by the LV runway show back in November 2023 and the upcoming Dior Men Pre-Fall show in 2024. The presence of such mega fashion events elevates Hong Kong’s status as a global fashion and luxury hub, attracting international attention and fostering a vibrant fashion ecosystem.
The Hong Kong SAR government has also been showing strong support for the fashion industry and their commitment to nurturing future talents. The recent Government Policy Address highlighted the allocation of significant resources to support local fashion and textile design brands. The government’s dedication to promoting Hong Kong as a prime destination for hosting major creative events further stresses their commitment to developing the city as a cosmopolitan fashion capital.
All these exciting happenings prove Hong Kong is well-positioned to make its mark on the global fashion stage and shape the future of the industry.
What are the expectations of Fashion Asia for the next generation of fashion talents?
Kennis: Fashion Asia has high expectations for the next generation of fashion talents as we anticipate they will be playing a pivotal role in shaping the future of the industry. We seek to see more innovative and creative individuals who can bring fresh perspectives to the industry. These talents are expected to push boundaries, challenge conventions, and introduce new ideas that drive the evolution of fashion.
As the industry continues to rapidly transform, it is crucial to embrace new ways of reaching audiences and engaging with them. Fashion Asia hopes these emerging talents will leverage their expertise to explore innovative marketing strategies and communication channels, effectively connecting fashion with wider audiences.
Fashion Asia would also like to see the next generation’s ability to raise awareness and interest in fashion among the general public. We expect these rising stars to effectively communicate the significance of fashion, fostering a greater understanding and appreciation for the industry. By expanding the reach of fashion, they will contribute to its continued growth and influence.
Do you have any advice for designers who are seeking to find a way to start their own brand or career in the fashion industry?
Kennis: My advice for designers are to stay true to their brand values and curate their own unique story as that will differentiate them from others and help you establish a memorable presence in the industry.
Trust in your own value, persist in your creative journey, and embrace innovation while remain authentic to your vision. Build connections, seek mentorship, and most importantly, persevere in the face of challenges. With dedication and a strong sense of identity, I believe they can carve a successful path in the dynamic world of fashion.
Build connections, seek mentorship, and most importantly, persevere in the face of challenges.
Text by Yiyao Zhang