Postcard reflection SEVEN

The Ladies Markets in Mong Kok are known for selling everything from clothing and phone cases, to watches and bracelets. I decided to take my first trip there last night and see what everyone had been talking about. The street was packed with stalls on either side and there seemed to be just as many locals running around as tourists. Here, like in the wholesale stores of Sham Shui Po it is the quality of your product that stands out rather than stall design and customer service (it seems for some). I know that Friday and Saturday nights tend to be the busiest, but seeing as this was a Monday and I could move quite easily in and out of the areas I’d say it was quite quiet for them.

Despite the array of products on sale and the vast quantity, all the stalls seemed to have picked from the same range of about 10 designers to focus on. I was looking at bags in particular and it was just so noticeable that not only did they manufacture the same labels and styles but they also had the same colours and finishes. On each of the tables they kept the rubbish versions out, I wish I had taken a photo — I actually saw an imitation PRADA purse with ‘rad&’ on the front instead. I got talking to one of the stall holders who was particularly friendly and helpful, and when I asked about a different make that wasn’t on show he wanted to know if it was a particularly ‘now’ or fashionable designer. These stall holders are catering to the mass market of tourists who pass in and out of the streets each day, they need iconic designs that would appeal to a large market, designers outside of the Louis Vuitton or Chanel bracket rarely show up on the tables. On sourcing a particular piece, the holder would ask for a deposit before ordering to ensure that at least some of their cost was covered if you turned the piece down. If you weren’t interested it would sit on the table awaiting the next customer and if that designer isn’t as sellable the stall holder is the one who ends up pulling the short straw. I don’t know if it’s the same with the other disciplines, but in fashion we’re very much encouraged to take inspiration from other sources, but to take our own unique stance on this and to create a very original piece. However when you look at the market a lot of the designs are mass produced and replicated if not just very similar to higher end designs. Should we also be encouraged if not taught, how to read the market and produce designs that appeal to a wider audience? Forecasting and buying both need to keep the public in mind as well as a niche market depending on the role, but it’s definitely not something we cover in our course.

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