Time for Asean fashion designers to hit reset button amid Covid-19 economic crisis | Life

The Council of Asean Fashion Designers was established to help fashion designers from member nations thrive in the globally competitive industry. ― Picture courtesy of CAFD

KUALA LUMPUR, July 30 ― The fashion industry has been one of the hardest hit sectors as Covid-19 ravages economies around the globe.

With major retailers forced to shut due to the pandemic, the Council of Asean Fashion Designers (CAFD) says it’s time for the industry to reset its business landscape to ensure sustainability.

The pandemic, it says, has accelerated digitalisation and has changed consumer behaviour.

CAFD honorary chairman Datuk Kenn Yam believes this is a crucial moment for designers to rethink, reinvent and regenerate to remain sustainable.

“For decades, the fashion industry was dictated by tradition and conventional methods to market and promote.

“The advance of e-commerce and growing environmentally responsible consumers have changed buying behaviours,” Yam said in a press release.

Yam says it’s time for designers to rethink, reinvent and regenerate to remain sustainable. ― Picture courtesy of CAFD
Yam says it’s time for designers to rethink, reinvent and regenerate to remain sustainable. ― Picture courtesy of CAFD

The council also wants to bridge the gap between designers from Asean countries and global consumers.

“However, there is a perception gap between most Asean designers and global consumers in terms of the 4Ps which are product, price, promotions and place of distribution.

“This is what CAFD is going to bridge as an Asean organisation to help independent designers to sell in today’s global marketplace,” he said.

The CAFD was established to democratise the fashion industry by creating a level playing field for Asean designers, enabling these talents to be a part of the global marketplace and thrive in the globally competitive industry.

Since its inception, the CAFD has been encouraging Asean designers to carve a niche for themselves by prioritising tailored clothes and high-quality materials whilst staying up to date with innovative technologies and digital marketing strategies.

Trang owns and co-founded Vietnam International Fashion Week and owns the rights to Next Top Model and Project Runway in Southeast Asia. ― Picture courtesy of CAFD
Trang owns and co-founded Vietnam International Fashion Week and owns the rights to Next Top Model and Project Runway in Southeast Asia. ― Picture courtesy of CAFD

But decades later and millions invested to promote their own country’s designers, there is little progress with Asean designers still categorised as emerging designers.

To support CAFD designers, the council recently appointed a new committee comprising an eclectic group of leading entrepreneurs and professionals in technology, fashion, media and entertainment fields with influential business networks.

“Each committee member brings with them a rich network of business and marketing resources to guide and assist fashion designers to navigate their business to the world,” Yam said.

The newly appointed CAFD president is Vietnam International Fashion Week (VIFW) owner and co-founder Trang Le.

On top of being a crucial figure of one of Asean’s largest fashion week events, Trang owns the Southeast Asia rights to Next Top Model and Project Runway.

CAFD’s two vice presidents are Warner Music Group Malaysia managing director Darren Choy and Vietnam’s Yeoh-One TV Network chief executive officer Tri Dao Phuc – both industry leaders will promote CAFD members using their social marketing experiences and celebrity networks.

Fashion designer Bon Zainal and Warner Music Malaysia’s Darren Choy are part of the new committee. ― Picture courtesy of CAFD
Fashion designer Bon Zainal and Warner Music Malaysia’s Darren Choy are part of the new committee. ― Picture courtesy of CAFD

The CAFD secretary is corporate listings specialist Datuk Tan Yee Boon while former Bank Rakyat and Ambank director Datuk Idris Mohd Esa is the council’s treasurer – both have also been appointed CAFD corporate advisors.

Each Asean nation will also have its own CAFD country counsellor, made up of influential figures to inspire independent fashion designers to be globally competitive.

They include Malaysian Bumiputera Designers Association president and fashion designer Bon Zainal (Malaysia), Brunei government senior investment associate Johan Johar (Brunei) and renowned fashion designer Remy Hou (Cambodia) who has designed for the likes of Katy Perry and Justin Bieber.

Today, China is the world’s largest consumer market for fashion but it is also one of the most challenging markets.

To help Asean designers navigate the Chinese market, the CAFD has named Chenguang Liu as its China advisor.

Liu, who is the Film and Television Department of China International Cultural Communication Centre deputy secretary-general, will guide CAFD members in understanding China’s marketing culture in order to be successful.

To kick things off, CAFD president Trang will be producing a virtual fashion trunk show that will be available on a dedicated mobile app featuring artificial intelligence and augmented reality for an immersive experience while shopping for Asean artisan apparel.

Find out more at CAFD’s website.

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