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Cover story : 10 Jan 2004
Vol. 20 No.19
Bangkok Fashion City Project:
A Stepping Stone to the World's Fashion Centre
By Danini de Guchi

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Bangkok Fashion_01
 
When talking about fashion or designers, women around the world, and Thai women also, will think of those internationally renowned designers and brand names like Gucci, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Ferragamo, Moschino etc., most of which are of French and Italian origins. It seems there are no international brand names belonging to Asia. But things are changing now. In the foreseeable future, it is predicted that Thai designers and brand names may become one of the leaders.
 
Bangkok Fashion_02
 
The Bangkok Fashion City Project was set up to prepare Bangkok for the role of a fashion hub in Southeast Asia by 2005 and that of the world by 2012. The Cabinet has approved a budget of 1,800 million baht plus 487.9 million baht from the private sector for the project. Its goals are to promote all aspects of Thailand's fashion trade covering textiles, garments, jewellery and ornaments, footwear and leather industries on a grand scale and to establish the image of Bangkok as a centre of fashion designs.
 
Bangkok Fashion_03
Super models from 21 APEC
countries presenting tailored
Thai silk dresses on 20 Oct.
2003 at the Phitsanulok House.
 
In a recent weekly radio address to the nation, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said that people involved in the fashion industries would be invited to meet for talks on the project so that it would be of benefit to everyone. He added that most Thai people possess fine workmanship and creativity in fashion products as evidenced by the fact that out of the first ten awards in the recent world contest of woven clothes, three were given to products from Thailand.

According to the Prime Minister, the Bangkok Fashion City Project will focus on the development of Thai designers' skills and marketing ability and on encouraging Thai manufacturers to produce fashion goods under their own brand names instead of producing for foreign brand names as has been the practice so far.
 
To achieve the objective
 
Three groups of people -- designers, marketing personnel and investors -- are the core to make the project successful. Industry Minister Somsak Thepsutin, who initiated the project, said that Thai fashion products need to be developed to meet international standards and that public relations campaigns must be boosted to publicize more than 300 Thai-brand fashion products abroad.Recently, design competitions for fashion, accessories, and leather goods were organized by the Industry Promotion Department to give opportunities to young-blood designers.
 
Bangkok Fashion_04
 
However, there are many famous Thai brands whose standards are already well known worldwide. All Thai characteristics brands that are in harmony with international designs and which are made of high-quality materials, have been proved successful in international markets.

According to the statistical data of the Information Technology and Communication Centre collected in cooperation with the Customs Department, Thai exports of textiles and garments in 2003 (Jan.-Jul.) reached 3,083.5 million dollars, an increase of 9.9% when compared with the figure of the same period of last year which was 2,805.7 million dollars. Even though these figures indicate the tendency of prosperous growth of these Thai exports to worldwide markets, it is required to maintain brand awareness and prestige of these products to survive in the intense international competition.
Top
Bangkok Fashion_05
 
Thailand's Potentiality to be the Fashion Centre
 
In view of the potentiality, two experienced persons in fashion circles gave interesting remarks.

Mr Bertrand Michaud, Managing Director of Hermes Asia-Pacific says, as reported in the Bangkok Post of October 21, 2003, "Thailand has the capability to become a fashion hub of the region as planned by the government, due to its strong craftsmanship and high-quality materials such as fabrics and ceramics."
 
Bangkok Fashion_06
Laura Bush, the First Lady of the U.S.
and Khunying (Lady) Pojamarn,
the wife of Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra at the fashion show
at the Phitsanulok House.
 
The Thai News Agency also reported Giorgiana Appani, Director of Foreign Department, the Institute of Fashion Technique Development, New York as saying: "Being the fashion city depends on several factors. Right now, it is the perfect opportunity for Thailand to do so but with hard work. Above all, Thailand has a firm fundamental structure of art and culture and nowadays Thai people are with full enthusiasm to pay for fashion goods. All these facts serve as a positive proof for the success of the project."
 
Bangkok Fashion_07
 
The Bangkok Fashion City project will be formally launched in February 2004 after two pilot mini-fashion shows were held, one at Don Muang International Airport on 18 October 2003, and the other at the Phitsanulok House, the official residence of the Prime Minister, on 20 October 2003. Another similar show is tentatively scheduled to take place on 31 December 2003 at the National Sports Stadium to celebrate the New Year.

The show on 20 October was held not only to entertain the group of APEC leader's spouses but also to promote the beauty of Thai silk. Twenty-one models appearing on the catwalk were super models who were representatives of APEC countries. Their costumes were the latest collection by an established Thai designer.
 
Bangkok Fashion_08
 
These fashion shows indisputably revealed the high capacity and strengths of the Thai fashion trade. They provided a shot in the arm for other Thai designers as well. The creative designs together with the exotic patterns of Thai fabrics were admired by the 21 spouses of APEC leaders, resulting in a positive image for Thailand.
 
Bangkok Fashion_09
 
At the time of writing (November 2003), the official opening of the project is planned to take place in early February 2004. It will feature a fashion show by international and local super models. Besides, fashion gurus and well-known designers from almost all over the world will show up. However, the organizer is still considering a suitable place to hold the event.

In conclusion, the Bangkok Fashion City Project is expected to be a breakthrough in the promotion of the Thai fashion industry both in aesthetic and marketing aspects. It is hoped that the "Thainess" of Thai fashion will originate a nouveau trend for worldwide fashion enthusiasts. Nevertheless, Rome was not built in a day. Thus, becoming a leader takes time. This project is just the beginning.

-Note: All dresses are made of Thai silk.
-Special thanks to the Office of the Bangkok Fashion City Project, Ministry of Industry and Mode Image Co.,Ltd. for giving information and photos to
Thaiways.
 


 
For the correct pronunciation of romanized Thai words, see
Romanization System of the Thai Language .

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