As the project of “Singapore Buying Mission”, ASEAN-Japan Centre dispatched Mr. Takuji Inada, a writer of Senken Newspaper, to the “Blueprint” trade fair under “Asia Fashion Exchange (AFX)” in Singapore from April 28 to May 2, 2010.
Senken Shimbun. May13th
Asia’s Fashion Hub: Function as a Gateway of ASEAN
Promotion of Nurture Designers:
Function as a Gateway of ASEAN
Singapore Government gives a strong support ;
Singapore’s drive to become a fashion hub in Asia is evident in the Asia Fashion Exchange (AFX) where events such as exhibition, show, and design competition are held. Singapore begins to put in serious efforts to strengthen by promoting through invitation of oversea designers and nurture talented designers. As a center of tremendous growth of ASEAN and multi-ethnic nation, Singapore is making an effort to become a fashion city.
The population of Singapore stands at five million. Though the market size is relatively small, Singapore is marked as a convenient point of access to the surrounding countries in ASEAN. Through a successful Takashimaya investment in Singapore, they are planning to advance into Vietnam and surrounding countries and yet to open PARCO Marina Bay in the end of March. “Singapore is used as showcase and strong capability to expand to surrounding countries”, says president of PARCO Singapore, Mr. Shuichi Hidaka. Singapore has a strong tie between India; thus, Singapore could be considered as a first step into the Indian market.
Singapore government also strongly promotes fashion industry as they strengthen the characteristic of the country. This time, IE (International Enterprise Singapore), SPRING Singapore (Standards, Productivity, and Innovation Board), Singapore Tourism Board, and private enterprises work as one body and have held the AFX together. It has held a fashion week only once before; thus, it is important for them to have the right place to bring up Singapore stature as a fashion city as this is the first time to the AFX is held since the fashion week.
The main program of AFX is “Blue Print” which is a trade show by Asian designers, “Asia Fashion Summit” – international conference, “Star Creation” – design competition , and so on. In the “Blue Print”, fifty-four brands from Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, India, and other Asian countries have participated. It has given an impression of a small sized show since it is their first attempt. Exhibitors commented that “we got orders from Korean companies (Victor C from Thailand)”, “it was a good opportunity for local designers to appeal to overseas designers, says WaiKid Son from Singapore”.
Discovering of Asian skills, “Star Creation” organized by TaFf (Textile and Fashion Federation) has nominated four winners from Singapore, China, Japan, and Malaysia. The people who are prized first have received 10,000 SGD, internship opportunity at a major fashion retail company, FJ Benjamin, and a chance to exhibit their creation in the “Blue Print” next year.
The government’s aim to set up a fashion hub is to promote the industry and tourism. Although many fashion malls have already built in every corner of the country, three newly-built malls have been introduced since last year; Ion Orchard, 313@Sumerset, and Mandarin Gallery. Recently, two casinos with attached shopping mall were opened in Sentosa and Marina Bay, too. It strongly shows that the government policy is to promote tourism and expand the demand of shopping venues in addition to nurture local designers at the same time. Also, there are many Singapore’s textile manufacturers located in Vietnam, Cambodia, and other variety of countries that could benefit them and the countries due to the increase in orders.
Discovering the leading designers is difficult as compared to finding a strong firm in the textile industry. One may argue, “It is doubtful that Singapore can foster global designers and compete in the international scene because of its all year-round summer climate”. However, SPRING Singapore and TaFf have linked up with PARCO Marina Bay to establish a learning zone and exposure opportunity for local designers by bridging the gap between Asian and Western designers through the trade fair, Blue Print.
Singapore has just started to establish itself as a fashion hub and one of its main goal is to serve as a gateway of surrounding regional countries. The strong support to become a fashion hub is evident from the three government institutions’ involvement in AFX. There is high possibility in the near future major changes could shape the fashion scene.