Day 11: Listening and Learning

Thursday: 29/6

Need I say it, but again, what a busy, busy day.

We started the day with an early morning train ride out to the headquarters of socially driven commercial enterprise Love + Hope. The brand works in the production of high quality knitwear made in Hong Kong by Hong Kong locals.

L+H works with high end brands and has its own range to create knitwear garments that help the people of Hong Kong by bringing together a strong community and supporting it financially. It was a really interesting business model to see, and they created some interesting points that I really had not considered until now. 
They made a important point about the bad connotations behind “Made in China”. To us Australian designers, we can use that to our advantage, by buying and producing locally. However, for L+H sourcing locally does mean being made in China. In order to overcome that stigma, and highlight to their customer that in fact their brand is of excellent quality, they have had to push the idea of being “Made in Hong Kong”, a challenge for the business in the limitations it produces, but not at all a problem we can not relate to.

Moving on from L+H we headed to the Fashion Incubation Centre, set up by the Hong Kong goverment, in Kowloon. Here we spoke to Yeung Chin and Cynthia Mak about their own design processes. They both had so much to say but it was so funny to hear both of them complain that there is such limited fabric sourcing in Hong Kong. After seeing the streets of Sham Shui Po it seemed outlandish to think that there could possibly be anywhere in the world that had more fabrics to choose from than here. (Apparently China is the place to go).

Detail of one of Cynthia’s shirts, woven ribbon to make a textile piece

Apart from this though, Cynthia had some really great insight about running a label that were just so interesting to hear I can’t help but share them now. As she had experience working as a buyer before starting up her own label, she knew what people look for when looking at a new designer and their work, and this has been part of what has allowed for her own brands success.

  • Know your best sellers. Keep them in each collection and just tweak little things about them- think colour, fabric etc.
  • Work at around 50 pieces.
  • Pre season sells the best, as these pieces are in the store longest
  • With a collection make some hand crafted “slow” pieces, these arethe show stoppers, where you can have some fun as a designer, and are , of course, the most expensive.
  • Majority of the collection should be more commerical items. These are the iconic pieces you are known for, but more wearable for everyday, these are what bring you the money — think: the best sellers.

And I think with those little nuggets of wisdom I am going to call it a day. I has been an amazing time here in Hong Kong, with the possiblity of nothing ever topping it (at least not at uni…). I have had to time of my life and have learnt more than I ever thought possible. What an amazing 2 weeks.