Clothing Industry Training Authority Programme Director Betty Li (right) hopes that the centre's courses can inspire or enhance the abilities of fashion designers. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVERNMENT)
HONG KONG – Many young Hong Kong people aspire to work in the fashion industry and be at the cutting edge of the next style trend.
Before their dreams are realized, they must first bring their innovative ideas to life by making a prototype – a prerequisite for commercialization.
However, as the bulk of garment production has shifted to the Chinese mainland, producing samples has become an increasingly difficult task in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Since 2019, the Clothing Industry Training Authority has launched at least 36 workshops in areas ranging from 3D virtual garment to men’s suit tailoring for about 400 students
To help local fashion talent, the Clothing Industry Training Authority (CITA) established the Sample Development Centre (SDC) in 2019 to serve this purpose.
Fashion designer Aries Sin is one of more than 50 designers who have benefited from the center’s service.
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“A prototype is just like our display for the whole collection, like how you feel, what your concept is. Without the prototype, you can’t sell your collection. That’s why making a really nice prototype can help us enhance our brand image.”
Sin said she enjoys creating prototypes at the centre and has developed a unique bond with its staff.
“We really appreciate the technicians in the SDC as they are really experienced and also they could always provide us with the most efficient, fast and cost-effective way to make your prototype.
“I have learnt a lot from the technicians and tailors. They always have some new insights for me.”
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She also believes the sponsorship from the government’s Create Hong Kong helps enhance the center’s work by allowing its staff more time to try different techniques with designers.
Apart from making garment samples, another major function of the centre is to train fashion enthusiasts.
Since 2019, it has launched at least 36 workshops in areas ranging from 3D virtual garment to men’s suit tailoring for about 400 students.
Fibre artist Debbie Leung applies a technique she learnt from the centre’s workshops on a traditional cheongsam to give it a modern twist. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVERNMENT)
The centre has incorporated the concept of sustainability into its courses as well.
CITA Programme Director Betty Li said: “They can use embroidery techniques or clothing alteration skills to create designs that are more sustainable.
“Through these courses, we want to inspire or enhance the abilities of young fashion designers.”
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Fibre artist Debbie Leung, who specializes in making cheongsams, has joined different courses, which she described as rewarding for a non-professional fashion designer like herself.
Ms Leung applied her newly acquired skills on a cheongsam to modernize it by creating a dramatic draping effect for the lower part of the garment.
“Many people think cheongsams are archaic and uncomfortable to wear. With this chic design, I hope more young women will wear cheongsams and pass this traditional outfit down to future generations.”
SDC Steering Committee Chairman Felix Chung said the centre hopes to utilize its advantages to help fashion talent enter bigger markets, such as the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
“The population of the Greater Bay Area is 10 times bigger than Hong Kong, so the market is much bigger.
“I think there are so many opportunities to let young designers or new brands build up businesses in the Greater Bay Area.”
The latest national Five-Year Plan has proposed favorable policies for Hong Kong and Macao young people to study, get employed and set up their own businesses in mainland cities of the Greater Bay Area.
Chung noted that with ample facilities, the centre can also handle additional production so designers can test if their products are suitable for the market.
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He pointed out this production will create employment opportunities.
“Everything made here is made in Hong Kong, so we can build up the ‘Made in Hong Kong’ brand which represents good quality and shows confidence to consumers,” Chung added.