ECFA Trade Agreement To Make Mainland China Market More Accessible For Taiwanese Fashion Brands
The Associated Press reports today that Taiwanese designers and fashion brands are set to break into mainland China in a big way as a result of the trade agreement recently signed between Taipei and Beijing, which will cut tariffs on apparel and other goods while better protecting intellectual property. In recent years, Taiwan’s fashion industry has looked to transition away from a mass production model and towards one that fosters innovation. With this trade deal, Taiwanese designers could potentially capitalize on China’s booming retail and high-end markets and gain a better foothold to better compete with their Japanese and Korean counterparts.
From the AP:
“Because of our shared culture, Taiwanese designers can cater to the needs of Chinese better than Westerners,” said Gioia Pan, one of the few Taiwanese designers with stores in China.
Pan mainly sells custom-made clothing to well-heeled Chinese consumers but believes the vast market across the Taiwan Strait offers something for everyone.
“There are more than a dozen levels of consumers in China,” she said. “Everything from casual wear to top-end products could sell well. Unlike the Taiwanese, many Chinese pick up the dresses they like and don’t wait for big discounts.”
She said the time may be opportune for a big China move by Taiwanese designers, because many Chinese designers are still studying in the West, and are three to five years from making an impact in their home market.
The view is echoed by Fang Tong, a saleswoman from Hongdu Group, one of the Chinese firms attending the Taipei Fashion Week.
“The Taiwanese designers may do well on the mainland,” Fang said. “Their clothes — priced much lower than the top Western designer houses — may fit the Chinese even better.”
Currently, fabrics account for the biggest export item of Taiwan’s textile industry, and many fabric makers are ramping up production with tariffs expected to drop from 17 percent to zero in two years.
A spokeswoman for Ho Yu Textile Company, who would only give her surname Cho, said the lowering of tariffs means it is now economic for the company to export fabrics to China. The company is supplying fabrics to luggage makers in China for exporting the finished goods to Europe and the U.S.
Among the highlights at the fashion week show was the vibrant knitwear and ready-to-wear dresses created by Taipei native Chia Wenlan, founder and designer of Twinkle by Wenlan in New York, and recipient of Tokyo’s prestigious Onward Kashiyama New Design Prize.
Chia, who used Taiwanese models for her first fashion show outside of New York, believes her clothes could be sold to Asian consumers without adaptation.
“We’re absolutely interested in the mainland market … and Greater China will be our most important market in the future,” Chia told The Associated Press.