Flooding and record rainfall (the heaviest since 1884), courtesy of a typhoon, couldn’t keep Hong Kong’s Centrestage 2023 event from happening this week.
The fashion showcase organized by the city’s Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKDTC), scheduled to run September 6 to 9, kicked off on Wednesday this week at the Wanchai Convention and Exhibition Centre, amid dreary weather.
Typhoon Haikui made landfall in China's Fujian province on Tuesday this week, and Hong Kong’s government issued its highest rain alert from late Thursday. Subsequently, today’s events were canceled, and a decision on tomorrow’s activities is pending.
Presenting an array of fashion designers from Hong Kong, across Asia and beyond — up-and-coming names at the event included Hong Kong-based designers Moodlabbylorraine, Lapeewee, Kowloon Cityboy and Rickyy Wong. Among the exhibitors at the event were Hong Kong-based knitwear manufacturer Knitup, as well as Okinawa-inspired apparel and designs by Japan’s Samsara, South Korea’s Yinyang, and India’s Chillosophy.
The event’s “Centrestage Elites” show, held on Wednesday, presented collections by top brands Fetico and Redemptive.
Fetico, created by Japanese designer Emi Funayama, presented an array of avant-garde and sensual looks in crimson, white and black cut-out styles for her Spring/Summer 2024 collection. The theme was “Do not disturb,” with focus on identity. “Do not disturb women living their own [lives] freely,” the designer says in a statement.
Meanwhile Redemptive, by Hong Kong’s Wilson Choi, is rooted in rebellion, according to the designer. Showcasing a collection of Y2K-style men’s and women’s fringed and tasseled denim looks across oversized trenches, deconstructed jeans and other ready-to-wear garments — Choi’s Spring/Summer 2024 designs were inspired by the absurdity of office life, paper documents and shredders, as well as the fax machine. The goal is to inspire audiences and wearers to find “balance in both work and life,” Choi says in a statement.
One of the highlights of Centrestage 2023 was The Redress Design Award by nonprofit organization Redress, founded by ex-Hong Konger Dr. Christina Dean, which saw an international lineup of fashion designers compete to create new ways to apply sustainable practices, whether zero-waste, upcycling or reconstructions to their creations. This year’s winner, German designer Nils Hauser, will work with outwear giant Timberland to create a sustainable collection for Spring/Summer 2025.
On the trade fair floor, 240 brands and exhibitors from Australia, mainland China, the UK, the US, South Korea and elsewhere displayed their stylish wares. Hong Kong’s post-Covid-19 reopening earlier this year has brought new hope that the city’s sluggish economy, which grew 1.5% year on year in 2Q 2023, will improve.
Despite Hong Kong’s slow recovery, and China’s own lackluster recent economic performance, Joe Leung, associate director of marketing and buyer engagement at the HKTDC says Hong Kong remains a major fashion hub and a global marketplace for garments, textiles and fashion accessories.
“Mainland brands exhibiting at Centrestage hope to connect with overseas buyers through Hong Kong, expanding into the Asian and international markets,” he tells Jing Daily.
“While Covid-19‑related restrictions are said to have reduced sales of clothing, footwear and textiles in the mainland by more than 6 percent in 2022, [China’s] full opening [will] unleash China’s huge domestic consumption potential,” Leung adds. Indeed Hong Kong’s iconic malls such as K11 and Ocean Terminal have reported a surge in footfall and shopping revenue in 2023.
Hong Kong-based designer exhibitor Florence Tsui, who founded her own apparel and accessories brand Junee two years ago, says she has seen rising interest from mainland Chinese customers.
“I receive orders from mainland-based customers through my website,” says Tsui. “Their shopping behavior is not like before: Chinese customers focus more on quality, and then they will look for unique, or more niche designs. [Their needs] have changed over the last three years.”