A trip to Thailand’s biggest fashion event provides prints galore and shows an industry keen to improve.
Earlier this month, Bangkok unveiled the latest edition of its fashion week-cum-trade show and Drapers was there to get an insight into what makes the fashion industry in Thailand tick.
The first conclusion to draw is that it’s a very different market to anything in the West. As I’ve examined in my Fashion Foreword, the out-of-sync seasons situation is the fundamental issue both the trade show BIFF and BIL (Bangkok International Fashion Fair and Bangkok International Leather Fair) and Bangkok Fashion Week need to address, but beyond the out-of-date offerings there’s plenty still to learn.
The industry is very retail-focused, using the trade show and fashion week as a means to showcase and create buzz around local brands. Customers can go straight from the show to one of the city’s numerous shopping malls to buy the clothes they’ve just seen on the catwalk. This makes the Thai labels a far more compelling proposition for shoppers, especially considering how eye-wateringly expensive imported brands are, whether luxury names such as Louis Vuitton and Dior or high street favourites like Topshop and Marks & Spencer. In 2012, retail accounted for 16%of Thailand’s GDP (about £32bn).
However, there are problems for Western suitors in that some of the print-tastic designs from Bangkok brands do feel a touch derivative, rather than complementary, of Western trends. The overall quality doesn’t always feel like value for money and the mark-ups of around times-two will squeeze margins. But these are all issues that are being worked on - view our snapshot of the brands and trends giving good bang for your baht in Bangkok right now.