risking contact with the h1n1 swine flu, we went up to guangzhou to attend the oldest trade show in china last wednesday (5/6/09). it is where you can find all kinds of factories manufacturing all types of garments and accessories you could ever want under one roof. a big roof it is: there are 15 halls all together with each the size of each pier at the coterie new york show. one could get lost in it for days.
the main business was export, but change was in the air. some quotes were in renminbi instead of us dollars, moq (minimum order quantity) came as low as 200 instead of thousands of dozens, and western buyers were few and far between. not every factory really gets this, but the smart ones figured out domestic consumption is the future and some had even tried and failed at making their own brands. china is faster then all the researchers and analysts could calculate.
not wandering aimlessly and cluelessly, we had a plan. we didn’t waste time on tailoring, woven, or cut-&-sewn fashion factories (they are a dim a dozen. besides, it’s better to build relationships with those who we have connection with). their qualities are not comparable to the europeans’, for the simple reason that the chinese are late to the game by about half a century.
so what did we do? our identity being futuristic, athletic & romantic, we want very specific type of factories – those who make diving dry suits, ski wear, moto jackets, cyclist uniforms, etc. the chinese’ tech factories are every bit as good as the italians’, again for the simple reason that everybody started those tech manufacturing at the same time. without the european advantage of a head start, the mainland dominated such area at every price point. (that’s why all sneakers are made in china while european leather shoes still reign supreme.) surprisingly, they are quite excitingly open to our ideas. either the recession really helped us, or they do understand what we are trying to accomplish.
we are making fashion out of the tech; we are not trying to make tech fashionable.