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Late collections are a Thai breaker for buyers

I’m just back from a trip to Bangkok to see what the Thai fashion industry has to offer the world.

Flown out by BIFF & BIL, the city’s trade show, and the Thai Department of International Trade Promotion, a small army of buyers and journalists from all over the world descended on the capital with the aim of promoting the design talent the country has and building business relationships with external operators.

No expense was spared and the organisers put on a real show but there was still one rather large elephant in the exhibition centre: virtually all the collections on show were spring 13. When asked how things were coming along with autumn 13, answers from designers ranged from “it’s in development” to “we haven’t started it yet”, odd responses considering forward order for spring finished yonks ago.

When the trade shows are exhibiting the same collections you can see on the catwalk during Bangkok’s fashion week and, more tellingly, in store at any one of the city’s many shopping centres, something’s not quite joined up, particularly when buyers have pretty much closed the following season already. The fact that this is not a case of different climates dictating different seasonal cycles à la Australia means something can be done.

Don’t get me wrong, the talent was definitely interesting to see, but this seemed like a missed opportunity considering the calibre of the attendees (Selfridges, Barneys and Liberty representatives plus a host of influential indies). This isn’t a schedule sync problem unique to Bangkok, but if these more off-the-beaten-track fashion events are really to thrive on an international level, particularly where trading with the West is concerned, getting ahead of the game by providing collections in advance of the season is a vital,
if rather obvious, course of action.

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