The collocated leather and fashion trade fairs Materials, Manufacturing & Technology (MM&T) and Fashion Access, together with Prime Source Forum came to a close on March 30, with exhibitors and buyers altogether satisfied with the positive outcomes. With approximately 1,800 companies exhibiting in the two fairs and over 300 forum delegates, the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre was a hive of activity.
MM&T is one of the most international leather fair in the world, with 50 countries represented this year. The fair is where tanneries present their new leather collections to primarily the huge China and Asia-Pacific markets. American visitor J. Craig Scotland of JCS Sales noted that “MM&T is a good opportunity for us to meet with hides and skins suppliers from different countries. It is truly international, unlike other fairs which may be strong in exhibitors from just a particular country.”
Buyer Marco Weidemann of Lanka Leather Fashion in Sri Lanka also remarked, “MM&T is bigger compared to other industry fairs. There are more suppliers especially from Europe, which gives us more choices.”
At the same time, MM&T is an ideal platform for getting a feel of the pulse of the leather industry and to note leather market issues. MM&T visitor Frank van Gelderen of Nethide Consultancy International in The Netherlands said, “I have visited MM&T more than ten times. By attending the fair, one knows where the market is going. For instance, I could see that the price of hides is increasing this time.”
At Fashion Access, offering “Head to Toe” fashion, buyers were just as happy with the results of their visit. Many noted the increased participation of Japanese footwear brands at Fashion Avenue. “We visit Fashion Access twice a year. This time, we met many new potential suppliers at the fair and found some really attractive handbags. There were also many Japanese exhibitors here, which is good for us as we run the Sogo department stores in Indonesia,” was the comment of Sumardini of PT Panen Lestari Internusa in Indonesia.
Japanese buyer Atsushi Takayanagi of AH International commented, “I sourced bags for our own brand at Fashion Access. We have been to so many exhibitions around the world and I must say this fair is excellent in terms of the number of exhibitors from South Asia. We will definitely come again next year.”
MM&T exhibitors were appreciative of the great turnout of buyers. Juan Marmolejo of Refibra in Mexico said, “Keep up the good work in bringing buyers to the fair. Congratulations, very productive.” Marpel of BProne One Limited in Hong Kong commented that they were “very satisfied by the exhibition, we want to come back next year.”
Fashion Access exhibitors; likewise, got great satisfaction from their participation. Designer Ali of Ali Charisma from Indonesia had this to say: “We like the fair because there are lots of buyers from different countries. Here is a good channel or platform to exhibit our products and share ideas of design.” Another Indonesian exhibitor, Ben Bosboom of PT Maleha said, “Response was quite good on the first day. We love the global atmosphere here. We can also establish relationships with new buyers.”
Scarf maker Swarup Mukherjee of Nivedita-Swarup in India also found the fair fruitful. “We were contacted by serious buyers from new markets. We have received very positive feedback from a very international clientele.” Twenty-year veteran of the APLF fairs, Mr. Kamaljeet of Bagmaker India gave his succinct view of Fashion Access: “Everything is spectacular.”
A noteworthy activity in MM&T this year was the participation of Turkey as focus country. The Turkish pavilion featured over 60 Turkish tanners. Lemi Tolunay, chairman of the Istanbul Leather and Leather Products Exporters Association, remarked that “fairs and other promotional activities are crucial for expanding Turkish market share in Asia, particularly China and Hong Kong. Being focus country at MM&T creates a positive effect on developing trade relations between Turkey and the whole of Asia.”
A highlight of the Turkish participation was the special exhibition of high-fashion leather garments that gave visitors the chance to experience the “Turkish Effect”. All the garments were specially designed for the fair by world-famous London-based Turkish designer Bora Aksu, utilising leather from the different Turkish tanneries in attendance. The unassuming Aksu was on hand to personally put together the striking display of couture leather apparel.
Prime Source Forum took a tremendous step forward this year with the inclusion of footwear in its program of workshops and discussions. Previously focused purely on the apparel industries’ supply chain issues and challenges, Prime Source Forum successfully integrated the footwear sector, highlighted by the inspiring talk of keynote speaker Ron Fromm of Brown Shoe, one of the world’s leading footwear companies, operating Famous Footwear, Naturalizer and Buster Brown throughout the United States and Canada.