12 March 2007
New Moods In Manhattan(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 03,2007)
Hong Kong and China dominate the sourcing and manufacturing landscape in fashion as in most other consumer items, and major industry players were out in force to secure the best deals for the forthcoming seasons.
Most of the 400 exhibitors and countless buyers appreciate Hong Kong is a major source for fabrics and is becoming more prominent in design, while the mainland dominates styles calling for hand-painting and detailed hand-work.
"Hong Kong and China always have a good needle," observed Jack Fruhling, partner in sales representative Piaffe Int'l. "There are not too many countries that do silk as well as the Chinese - they have the people and the ability to handle the fabric."
Fruhling also walked the walk, with Piaffe's exhibit area including David and Nancy, a line of hand-painted silks designed and made in China and selling for US$24-139 wholesale.
In fact, Hong Kong and China were keyed into the leading design, sizing, colour and fabric trends throughout the show, which largely reflected the current "Lifestyle" concept.
Fashionable looks in larger sizes mirrored industry awareness of the publicity over anorexic models and the fact that the average American woman is now a size 14, with many companies offering sizes from XS to XL and 3X and indicating a willingness to make special sizes, small or large.
In fabrics, "jersey is huge" for all sizes, claimed Andrew Orliner of Orliner Sales, which represents lines made in China, Turkey, Israel and the US. "It can hide things, it can reveal things - it's become a 12-month-a-year fabric. Volume and looser clothes are getting more interest."
New fabrics included a variety of blends that tapped the demand for stretch materials and interest in organic lifestyles, with neutrals and black and white key colour directions.
Several companies indicated that items that sell well in basic neutrals and black and white may be offered later in other colours, while brights and muted shades were popular choices for sportswear, business and most daywear lines.
Bright colours with elaborate beading and appliquˆms, mostly hand-done, were the norm for evening gowns and cocktail dresses as Hong Kong designer Dorian Ho deftly illustrated with bright and two-tone colours (US$190-465 wholesale) in his contemporary bridge collection.
Janique, also made in China, offers a wide range of colours in its special occasion, prom and separates (US$100-350 wholesale), which are aimed at specialty shops.
Fabrics include silks, taffetas and polyesters, while gowns are highly detailed. "No one else can do that beading and detailing for the price - the workmanship is incredible," says Orliner, who represents the line.
Meanwhile, "soft, dressy, ladylike" is the way vice president Shy Efter described Hong Kong-based Silk Culture's spring collection of related separates, dresses (US$75-139 wholesale), skirts and pants (US$45-69 wholesale), jackets (US$75-120 wholesale) and tops (US$39-65 wholesale).
Contemporary, the line is produced at its China factory and features fuchsia, orange and chocolate brown, in addition to black and white, in silk blends, cottons and linens.
"Very romantic, but practical for everyday" is how designer Way Zen describes her styles for JSong's spring 2007 collections, where florals, lace, embroidery and textures are prominent.
Hong Kong and China account for much of the design in the Asian-influenced collections (US$100-200 wholesale), which include skirts, blouses, related separates, dresses, pants and knitwear.
Tunic lengths with shape and chunkier knits with texture are strong directions now, said Jeff Scher, vice president of sweater and knitwear maker After the Rain/Venue Group, which designs in the US, has a Hong Kong office and manufactures in China.
Fabrics include silk blends and rayon cotton blends - "everything with stretch," said Scher, adding that greens, browns, reds and blues will be strong colours in spring lines (mid-US$40s wholesale), the fall collection will contain deep greens, silver, and aubergine and transition colours will include dusty rose, dusty blues, new deep greens and black.
Samuel Dong's blouse collections, which sell for US$35-99 wholesale with most in the US$45-49 range, focus on black and white, along with seasonal momentum colours.
Designs are contemporary, made with materials that include fur for winter collections as well as cottons, spandex, polyester and wools. "We just entered the Canadian market and business there has been very good," Dong said, noting that the company also appeared at Hong Kong's Fashion Week.
Cashmere and wool-blend knit tops from Shelly M. Couture cost US$40-99 wholesale, are designed in Los Angeles, made in Hong Kong and China, feature European styling and come in a wide range of colours as well as neutrals and black and white.
Sophie Finzi uses silks from China and spandex lycra from the US for her US-made Sophie Finzi related separates and knitwear that wholesale for US$48-110.
Jackets and tops add flair to pockets, placing them so they come down below the hem or placing the opening at the side instead of the top of the pocket, and sizes range up to 3X.
"Plus-size women want style - they have a hard time finding garments that have style and shape," said Joyce Stewart, whose Jes 'Irie' Wear specialty jackets, skirts and sweaters use taffetas, rayons and some lace from China, come in larger as well as standard sizes and cost US$80-210 wholesale.
Owner and designer Eletra Casadei of Casadei targets the active "power" woman with lace and knit tops and dresses (US$24-149 wholesale), using fabrics from China, Indonesia, Korea and Europe.
Elsewhere, Belle Fare by Ming Yang uses cashmere and mink for an outerwear fill line that costs anywhere from US$13 wholesale for a neck warmer to US$2,500 for a full-skin mink.
Furs are from Denmark, Finland and Canada, and the company has its own factory in China, proving yet again that nowhere beats Hong Kong and China when it comes to sourcing the finest fashion at the most affordable prices.
WRITTEN BY LISA HARBATKIN
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