9 April 2009
Cream Of The Crop
Fashion & Fashion Accessories
Creativity, quality workmanship and environmental considerations are woven into winter fashions to make them truly cool choices
Handmade embroidery, natural dyes, luxurious cashmere shawls and trendy neckties take the limelight in fall/winter 2009 collections that exemplify the best in design, workmanship and production techniques.
A hit with international buyers, for example, is a new range from Hangzhou Grace Fashion Garments Industrial & Trading Co Ltd of the Chinese mainland that sports a distinctive classic-contemporary mix.
"We try to combine the best of modern design with a subtle touch of classic Chinese elements," says Director, Iris Jing.
Dresses, blouses, jackets and skirts in the collection are made of silk, cotton, wool, linen and other high-quality natural materials, to which handcrafted embroidery and appliqums are added to enhance their appeal among style-conscious women with a fine eye for detail.
"Customers particularly like the fine details and workmanship as seen in the hand-embroidered patterns and intricate crochet on our clothing that make each and every piece unique," Ms Jing claims.
A good example is an elegant dress (model KSF82011) made of 16.5mm silk satin, to which 8mm silk edging is applied.
"The neckline is accentuated with handmade trim that is sophisticated, feminine and yet understated," Ms Jing notes. "The dress can be dry-cleaned or hand-washed, and ironed using the 'silk' setting."
Available in dark gold, purple, navy and black, the item is unit-priced at US$32.45 FOB Shanghai.
Meanwhile, natural dyes made from fruit, vegetables and plants grown by small local farmers is the prime focus for a group of Korean fashion suppliers. "The natural dyes are totally free of chemicals and are thus environmentally friendly and safe for wearers with sensitive skin," says Sera Kim, Senior Researcher of Textile Information & Planning at Fashion Center Korea.
The organisation is involved in a project to promote the small garment makers specialising in natural dyeing that are based in Daegu, the centre of Korea's textile industry, such as Zelkova Atelier.
"A dress (model ZA001) by Zelkova Atelier, for example, combines blue and orange dye made respectively from polygonum indigo (a type of plant) and persimmon," Ms Kim says, adding that the item's export price is approximately US$300 per piece.
"These clothes are exclusive items and are not mass-produced at the moment. Generally, each order is small, about 10-20 pieces or so, and they are sent to buyers by courier," she advises.
Other raw materials used to make natural dyes include onions (brown), artemisia prinoeps (yellowish green), charcoal (grey/black), chestnut (brown), Chinese ink (grey/black), rhubarb (beige) and cochineal (pinkish/reddish).
"It is best to dry-clean these naturally dyed clothes, particularly those made of silk. With repeated cleaning, the colours will fade, but people in Korea view this as an attraction of natural dyes," Ms Kim maintains. "The fading gives each piece a unique look that is natural and artistic. Such is the beauty of natural dyes."
As indispensable items in the winter wardrobe, cashmere shawls are given a twist by Hong Kong manufacturer Luxfair Int'l Co Ltd, which recently launched model KY052060 featuring an intricate floral print on one side and a leopard print on the other.
"The floral print is a popular classic design, while the leopard print is in vogue in fall/winter 2009 fashion collections internationally," explains Manager Ken Yeung, noting that the double-sided shawl measures 180x70cm, and has a 10cm fringe.
"It is usually available in a background of pink, brown or grey, but we are able to supply other colours on request," he says, quoting an FOB China price of US$105 each. "Our shawls are 100% cashmere, and we use high-quality cashmere from Inner Mongolia."
No business attire for men is complete without a tie, and Hong Kong suppliers such as Ling Nam Neckwear Mfg Ltd are giving this age-old accessory item a contemporary twist.
"Nowadays, ties have an important place in the stylish man's wardrobe," remarks Sales Executive Billy Chong. "They are a fashion statement, and ties designed for younger men are a growing part of our business."
One new design is a microfibre tie with a pale green background and tiny black dots (model 9394-MF). "We sell this in a set which includes the tie, a matching pocket hankie and cufflinks - packed in a stylish metal can wrapped in the same fabric," Mr Chong advises.
"Traditionally, ties come in boxes. We designed the metal can as a more stylish way of packaging a tie set," he notes, adding that the FOB Hong Kong price is US$2.50 per set.
The tie is also reflective of the trend towards polka dots and more intricate patterns, a change from the striped "college" ties that were the rage two years ago, Mr Chong points out. "There's also a trend towards slimmer ties that complement the slimmer suits fashionable nowadays."
These chic collections exemplify the cream of the crop that will certainly be sizzling hot in cool seasons.
TEXT BY CHIARA WONG