Hong Kong fashion has been a hot topic of late, with calls for efforts to narrow the huge gap between succesful Western brands (both high fashion and high street) and the struggling local market.

The task might seem daunting, but as many industry insiders are saying: “If not now, then when?”

One group is taking the lead. The non-profit organisation Fashion Farm Foundation says Friday is the day for “Dress Hong Kong”, and it has enlisted a number of local opinion leaders to push the agenda of wearing local brands on that day.

Having recently been in touch with chairwoman Edith Law (who established the foundation three years ago), I’ve been learning more about what is being done at the grass-roots level to support local designers and turn the tide with consumers, as well.

The foundation has a large headquarters in Lai Chi Kok. It belongs to Laws Group, Edith Law’s family-owned apparel business, and has been turned into an incubation hub for a number of small local brands, which base their studios there. The Hong Kong Design Centre and the Nan Fung Group run similar programmes.

Law – who worked in finance in New York and ran local retailer Bread and Butter for many years – has emerged an unlikely champion in the local industry by putting creativity before commerce at the foundation.

These programmes need the help and support of the government, industry and consumers.

A look from Modement

We’ll go into more detail about Law and the foundation in a future article.

It’s the Friday “Dress Hong Kong” campaign that has been catching the public’s eye and, of course, it aims to provide much-needed exposure for local designers rather than being a “you must” directive.

A series of short videos is also being produced to raise awareness, featuring people such as local style hero Douglas Young of G.O.D, designer Johanna Ho and even (ahem, you’ll smile at this) Chief Executive C.Y. Leung’s daughter Chai-yan Leung.

In addition, the foundation is working with local retailers, brands and online local media such as the youth-focused Ketchup to promote brands online and in stores on Fridays.

They’ve put up creative window displays, pop-ups and the like, featuring independent labels such as Modement, Methodology, Kay Li and sportswear brand Dress in Print, in an effort to get consumers to wear (and shop for) local fashion on Fridays.

It’s a noble initiative, but it needs broader reach and consumer support because if local brands are going to flourish, it’s ultimately people who have the power.