We’re kicking off a new series on up-and-coming design hubs by featuring the “Fragrant Harbour”, better known as Hong Kong. This week, we spoke with Edith Law, chairwoman of Fashion Farm Foundation, a non-government organization that supports local fashion and culture entrepreneurs. We sat down with Edith to talk about Hong Kong’s burgeoning fashion industry.
What do you do?
I’m the chairwoman of Fashion Farm Foundation, an NGO aimed at nurturing Hong Kong-based fashion designers. I spearhead many meaningful programs such as FRIDAY, Fashion Forward Festival and Fashion Guerilla. FFF provides co-working spaces and designer studios at reasonable rates to those who are determined to devote themselves to the fashion/creative industry.
How did you get into the fashion industry?
My family established a garment manufacturing business in the 1970’s. Even so, I was not a fashion enthusiast when I was younger. After graduating from Stanford University, I worked in New York for a few years as an investment banker. I didn’t discovered my true passion for fashion until the early 2000’s. Victoria Law, my younger sister, was starting up her fashion label at that time. I decided to support her by applying my experience in corporate finance to develop bread n butter and ZTAMPZ.
Do you have any examples of how people in the industry are using technology in their day-to-day lives?
Most people are getting used to reading fashion news on their smartphones. Traditional print media like Vogue, which took over Style.com a few months ago, is shifting to online platforms to retain their existing readers.
What are some of the misconceptions people have about the local fashion scene in Hong Kong?
Some people may think that Hong Kong fashion products are only sold in Hong Kong, but they are actually spreading amongst a global fashion industry and are well received by international customers.
How has the fashion scene changed in the last five years?
In the past few decades, Hong Kong fashion was focused on bespoke tailoring (custom orders) and manufacturing. Johanna Ho and Dorian Ho are rare examples from the past. In the past five years, younger designers have started to stand out by developing their own labels. Kenaxleung, Methodology and Modement are all up-and-coming fashion labels with less than five years of experience.
How do you think it will change in the next five years?
I am optimistic about change in the next five years. The Hong Kong government is allocating $5 billion HKD ($645M USD) to develop the Hong Kong fashion industry, and more professionals are willing to dedicate themselves to foster the industry. I expect there will be an increase in fashion designers in the near future.
Do you think Mainland China’s economic slowdown is going to have a large impact on Hong Kong’s fashion industry in the near future?
It might affect the sales performance of luxury brands, but affordable goods are still growing rapidly in the tough age of retailing. Consumers have changed their consumption patterns and have turned towards spending money on fast fashion and sports labels. Local designers should control their price point and identify a unique position to survive.
Who are some emerging local designers we should watch?
I’m paying attention to Eugene Leung, the designer of Injury. His label is famous for its great success in China and in the Australian market.
What are some of Hong Kong’s advantages over other major Asian cities?
It’s great to be in Hong Kong because it truly is an international city. Some designers received education from the U.S. and Europe while others are locally trained. They co-create a hybrid “Hong Kong style” due to their diverse backgrounds.
What advice do you have for fashion companies trying to engage consumers in Hong Kong?
My advice is that consumers have changed their shopping patterns to a lower-end approach, so fashion companies should maintain an affordable price-point to engage more consumers.
Thanks for chatting with us, Edith!