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Fashion - A Multi-billion Dollar Industry


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Thailand turning glamour into multi-billion dollar industry

BANGKOK: -- The Thai capital, better known as a centre for fake designer gear in its busy street markets, is trying to become Asia's glamour fashion capital to cash in on the multi-billion dollar beauty industry.

From a bid to host the Miss Universe contest to developing world-class fashion houses, leaders are attempting to harness the business of beauty as a key foreign currency earner.

Haute couture, cosmetics and high-end jewellery have become big business in the kingdom, traditionally seen as a Mecca for cheap cloth, quaint handicrafts and unimpressive pirate copies.

The fashion industry, from leather to jewellery, earned Thailand about 390 billion baht (9.6 billion dollars) in exports last year with hopes of reaching 400 billion baht this year, a Thai government official told AFP.

Witoon Simachokadee, who heads the industry ministry's "Bangkok Fashion City" arm, said they hoped for annual 10 billion baht gains in the total from 2005.

The fashion city initiative, which aims to revamp Thailand's reputation as a haven for fake versions of Rolex, Gucci and Louis Vuitton designs, was launched in February with shopping centre extravaganzas and a fashion street parade big enough to shut down the city centre.

At the launch Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra pledged 1.8 billion baht to transform the city into Asia's catwalk. He later signed up advisers such as Giorgio Armani and backed dozens of fashion shows.

"Our target in the next three years is to become a tropical fashion zone and to become a major global fashion market in the next ten years," said Witoon.

The campaign taps into an already burgeoning style business. Sales of cosmetics and toiletries in Thailand grew 9.2 percent over 2003 to a total value of 57.4 billion baht, according to consumer product sales researcher Euromonitor International.

It said consumer spending, especially among women, had grown as the country continues to recover from the Asian economic crisis of 1997-98. If the current rate of growth continued, sales would reach more than 80 billion baht by the end of 2008, it said.

During Bangkok Fashion Week that closed Sunday, the editor of Elle magazine Thailand, Kullawit Laosuksri, told AFP the industry was trying to transform Thailand from a source of cheap products to a base for high-profile domestic brands.

"What we really need now is to move from manufacturing to branding our own designs and concepts," he said. "It's under way and it is already quite successful."

Kullawit cited a recent show in Milan by five leading Thai designers. "We want to be the fashion hub of Asia. At the moment Japan is the leader but I think we are now second," he said.

The Miss Universe competition, watched by an estimated television audience of 1.5 billion this year, has become the latest vehicle for the government's attempts to promote its glamour industry.

However, the Thai push for the 2005 contest has been in disarray with potential sponsors reluctant to invest because of delays by the government in making good on a 6.5 million dollar staging fee.

The government said regulations prevented it from putting up the money and it had handed the task to Showcase Thailand 2005, the firm which submitted the bid.

Showcase in turn told the Bangkok Post that with only one million baht in registered capital it could not fund the fee. Fashion experts said they were unconcerned if the bid failed.

"We don't really understand a lot of what the government is trying to do but what we do know is that any way you look at it the Thai fashion industry is booming," said Kullawit.

-- AFP 2004-11-14

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Kullawit cited a recent show in Milan by five leading Thai designers. "We want to be the fashion hub of Asia. At the moment Japan is the leader but I think we are now second," he said.

Ahhh yes, the magic word, hub. Any further comment by the OvenMan would be superfluous. :o

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Thailand has a long way to go before it can ever be considered as anywhere near a fashion glamour centre for Asia.

Apart from overcoming the norm for Thai business practices, bribery, corruption, cronyism, theft etc, there are quite a few schools that are only fit for the scrap heap. Many of them hold fashion design contests offering prize money for the top three that is an insult to anyone's integrity. Follow that by then not paying out the prize money but whinging about how the contest organisers, being sponsored by the government, are unable to claim prize monies due to bureaucracy (not to mention afore stated problems).

Having recently seen the top ten designers' offerings for a competition organised by Robinsons for Disco Jeans, there was only one of those ten that was fit for consideration. The remainder were either well below par and failed to meet any Asian standard, or should be returned to the scratchings of the kindergarten wall from whence they came. One cannot blame the 'designers' for their efforts, but it does say a lot for what one presumes should have been judges with some professional knowledge of the fashion scene - which by the looks of the designs displayed, they weren't.

Perhaps the industry ministry's "Bangkok Fashion City" needs to take a long look at itself, it's abilities, and it's professionals before trying to pursue this dream further. In the meantime, I'll continue to sponsor the fakes until such times as Thailand can produce something of value and quality, with just rewards and without ripping off it's own kind.

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I think the government ministers had a bit of a motivation session over the weekend and as they are now bursting with enthusiasm, they come out with their wisdom.A couple of articles proclaiming grand visions...after all that effort, some well deserved pats on the back for solving the problems , its off to celebrate.

:o:D:D

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You certainly can get very good stuff manufactured here and you can set quality goals etc etc, the price is ok, almost comparable with other "cheaper" manufacturing countries.

Fashion here, maybe not locally designed is very well made. And I am not talking about knock-off brands.

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I think there is definitely potential for Thailand as a fashion contender, because above everything else, it seems that many Thai people have a natural flair for design. The textiles are beautiful, everyone cares greatly (obsessively) about appearances, interior designs are geat, and their products are beautiful.

The problem I find, as in almost everything here, is in the function. You see a beautiful table or setting and sit down, and it is very confining or uncomfortable. Or you see beautifully made clothing or shoes, and they just don't fit right, even if it is your size.

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another Thai pipedream .

they have no idea about fashion , applicable to western tastes .

for a start females being small engenders tacky unfashionable articles of clothing.

they might appeal to japanese women who have no idea about fashion .

i showed some newspaper and magazine clippings of fashionable shoes and clothing to Thai women and they were completely underwhelmed .

one look around Pratunam tells you all you need to know ...

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Kullawit cited a recent show in Milan by five leading Thai designers. "We want to be the fashion hub of Asia. At the moment Japan is the leader but I think we are now second," he said.

If japan is the leader then it should be easy to become number 1 in asia .

being second must be the pits ...

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I wonder how long it will be before some minister starts jumping up and down, because a model has shown a bit of breast on the catwalk? Bring back Ftv and get rid of that so called Chic Channel, which is just full of too much Bangkok wanbe chat.

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Yeah, after the Elle fashion show last year, they started posting police officers at fashion events to arrest on sight any errant nipples!

I just don't get it: every day they feature naked women (nipples hidden of course) on the front page of their newspapers, and people with their brains blown out by the police and other such thugs. But they post police officers at fashion shows. I'm sure that's one assignment where the police actually want to do a good job :o

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Yeah, after the Elle fashion show last year, they started posting police officers at fashion events to arrest on sight any errant nipples!

I just don't get it:  every day they feature naked women (nipples hidden of course) on the front page of their newspapers, and people with their brains blown out by the police and other such thugs.  But they post police officers at fashion shows.  I'm sure that's one assignment where the police actually want to do a good job  :o

All politics is local people. Stinking hypocritical politics, but politics nonetheless.

Though he tries to portray himself as a strong man the PM has some true wowsers in his govenment. Just like in the US, there are strong moral crusading factions withing government who are unhappy that 2 people of the same sex love each other, but are happy to stick a lethal injection in someones arm, and go to election proud of that fact.

And, although it doesn't seem it sometimes, Thai's tend to see themselves as very 'proper' upstanding and moral people. As the occasional poptart who flaunts themselves a bit too much in Thailand can find out (who was Paradorns' ex again?), public opinion can be vicious. Politicians realise this, and go along for the moral crusades, cause at the end of the day, it helps them stay elected.

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Yes, I do find some similarities between the moral hypocrisies of Thailand and some of those of the U.S. We had our own nipple "crisis" shortly after Thailand's nipple crackdown. Sometimes when I leave the BTS skytrain very cold, I feel like I have to rush home because the nipple police may issue me a ticket or something :o

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I wonder how long it will be before some minister starts jumping up and down, because a model has shown a bit of breast on the catwalk? Bring back Ftv and get rid of that so called Chic Channel, which is just full of too much Bangkok wanbe chat.

Is the FTV gone from cable ? Reason ?

I think it is quite a nice channel.

Cheers,

Jem

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