5 New FIP Design Brands Who Rise to Future Challenges
When almost no industry is immune to the impact of the pandemic, young brands are often hit harder than established enterprises. Just as the latter have been taking drastic actions to save their businesses, local young fashion designers have been innovating their practices to rise above the crisis. The 5 emerging brands that Fashion Incubation Programme (FIP) welcomed in August provide some of the best examples. They shared with us how they are braving the storm during this trying time.
Kay Kwok: Digital and remote tech for fashion
Kay Kwok's fashion apparels
Kay Kwok established his eponymous menswear label in 2013, the same year when his debut collection was launched in London Fashion Week as the first-ever Hong Kong menswear brand in the prestigious show. His edgy, contemporarily futuristic and forward-thinking designs have a strong appeal in the international market. Although this strength has become kind of an Achilles' heel in the coronavirus context, he is exploring new possibilities positively. "Many ports are closed so it's become very difficult to reach out to buyers abroad. While getting used to meeting them virtually, I’m also looking for new directions, such as using digital and remote technologies to raise the competitiveness of my label."
With an aspiration to develop his label into a uniquely Hong Kong fashion brand with an international reputation, he is learning the know-hows of building designer brands. "Designers are not business people by training. FIP makes up for my lack of business acumen and it's the perfect bridge for me to build good relationships in the fashion industry."
Designers are not business people by training. FIP makes up for my lack of business acumen and it's the perfect bridge for me to build good relationships in the fashion industry.
Cafuné: Reacting fast to changing consumer behaviour
Modern accessories brand Cafuné was founded by lifelong friends Queenie Fan and Day Lau in 2015. They offer women who seek to express their individuality with convention-breaking but timeless handbags, and aspire to redefine luxury through the emotions attaching wearers and products. They found the drastic change in consumer behaviour in 2020 exceptionally overwhelming, but their lean company structure and supply chain have helped them weather the difficult time. "We are ready to shift our model and meet where customers are – moving away from wholesale and investing more in D2C (direct-to-consumer) channels; speeding up the transition to using more sustainable materials; and expanding our classic and seasonless range with a dose of seasonal designs."
"It’s our goal to become a more all-rounded business after these two years with FIP. It is an excellent platform connecting us to industry experts and business veterans whose valuable insights can help us grow as a brand. In the future, we hope we can be recognised both locally and internationally as an environmental conscious accessories brand that stands for longevity and quality."
It (FIP) is an excellent platform connecting us to industry experts and business veterans whose valuable insights can help us grow as a brand.
CAR|2IE: Staying strong with sustainable fashion
CAR|2IE: sustainable fashion
Launched in 2016 by Carrie Kwok, CAR|2IE celebrates women's imperfections through fashion. Mixing masculine tailoring with feminine chic, their designs are marked by a strong sense of structure without sacrificing femininity and proportion. The crisis prompted them to think more about sustainability. "Some companies went bankrupt but some thrived against the odds. We need to keep learning and gear ourselves up to become a brand that grows continuously. Since last season we've been experimenting with high-quality deadstock yarns from a textile mill. We received great responses for the trial. Sustainable design will be one of the directions for our future development."
They aim to build a distinctive brand image to strengthen their brand awareness. "We hope to promote the idea of 'buy less, buy better' through our brand. We want to be not just a successful fashion label, but also one with social consciousness."
We hope to promote the idea of 'buy less, buy better' through our brand. We want to be not just a successful fashion label, but also one with social consciousness.
KKLUE Jewelry: Strategising to build customer stickiness
KKLUE Jewelry: Unlock Collection
KKLUE Jewelry was founded by executive-turned-designer Kellyn Zhou in 2016 who aspires to make fine and affordable designer jewellery with originality, quality and transparency for confident professional women like herself. "In the current atmosphere, consumers think more carefully before spending money. They prefer products that are long-lasting and high-quality. Consumers look for the emotional appeal behind brands and products." And they are strategising responsively. "We will put more emphasis on quality products with classic designs. In our marketing, we will further play up the symbolic meanings behind our products. We are also upgrading our after-sale care to build customer stickiness."
They are convinced that FIP's resources, from funding support, business skills workshops to access to trend-forecasting platforms such as WGSN and BOF can benefit them tremendously, as they learn what is needed to develop the label. "We aim to build a brand that can connect women, letting them sparkle and shine together. We are not only a jewellery company - we are a community for women.”
We are not only a jewellery company - we are a community for women.
ALPS Annie Ling: Gearing up with face masks and online retailing
ALPS Annie Ling: combining of fashion and technology
Annie Ling established ALPS Annie Ling which has been proactively combining fashion and technology since its debut in 2015. They design quality, innovative and unique clothing for self-assured, outgoing and young-at-heart people who enjoy a balanced life. In 2018, they launched their own-brand reusable face masks using an anti-bacteria and breathable high-tech fabric – which so happens to meet the huge demand for face-covering during the pandemic. With both their international wholesale and local retail development plans heavily disrupted by the pandemic, they are rethinking their direction. "We are developing the online sales channels."
"Through the FIP network, we’d like to increase our brand awareness and join more projects to work with different parties. Our ultimate goal is to open shops in major fashion cities around the world, backed by online retailing. We want to provide our customers with timeless fashion with exceptional protection and exquisite workmanship."
Through the FIP network, we’d like to increase our brand awareness and join more projects to work with different parties.
Despite working in an uncertain time and a highly competitive industry, the ambitions of these new FIP designers do not show any sign of being dampened. We hope with FIP's support, they will march towards their dreams and surmount any kind of obstacles with great agility, tenacity and resilience. We can't wait to see them rise through the ranks in the fashion world.