With the Hong Kong Young Fashion Designers’ Contest (YDC) 2022 fast approaching, lecturers and students from different institutions shared their thoughts.
An International Competition in Hong Kong
All three lecturers we spoke with agreed that the YDC is important in the Hong Kong fashion industry and has greatly helped contestants. Jackie Leung, an instructor at the Institute of Textiles & Clothing at Polytechnic University, said that although the YDC is held in Hong Kong and limited to local designers, it represents international standards.“It is a good experience for the contestants. After being shortlisted, they can communicate with the international judges and improve their skills.”
Portia To, a senior lecturer at the Department of Fashion and Image Design at the Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI), believes that the YDC enables the international community to recognise the talents of young local designers. Students can also learn about market needs outside the classroom and apply their knowledge. She says,“Even if you may not be shortlisted or awarded, you can receive others’opinions on your work, and make progress instead of working behind closed doors.”
Jenny Cheung, a lecturer at the Department of Design, Faculty of Design and Environment at Technological and Higher Education Institute of Hong Kong (THEi), felt the same. “In the early stages of the contest, there are many promotions. In the latter stages, the strong network connects contestants with overseas and local buyers.”As a past finalist of the YDC, she said, “The contest made more people aware of my designs. A potential employer contacted me for an interview and then I found my first job. I had the opportunity to go to Vietnam to participate in fashion week there.” Her student, Kelly Lau, was shortlisted in the YDC 2019. Seeing Lau move towards her dream and receive media coverage, Cheung believes the YDC is good for the young designers. “No matter if you win or lose, you will benefit and let people know that you’re [please chedk spacing] able to join a fashion show!”
The lecturers gave suggestions to the contestants. Cheung thinks that uniqueness plays a big part in the competition, so the designers must understand their personality, style and strengths to stand out. “I believe that all styles have their markets, and can be accepted and appreciated by others. Some past finalists’ works are bold and different, and not commercial at all. I think the contest is pursuing innovation in style and techniques that no one has ever seen.”
However, To reminded designers that uniqueness does not mean grandstanding, and it is necessary to balance creativity and practicality. She was impressed by some of the previous award-winning works. “The 2016 champion, Kenneth Cheung, showcased pieces using special knitting techniques that are very beautiful in both appearance and craftsmanship. The works of first runner-up Lee Tak Shing and second runner-up Gim Wong showcase street fashion style and are excellent in terms of technique, colour and wearability. The 2017 first runner-up, Sonic Lam, also shows fantastic embroidery craftsmanship.” Cheung suggested contestants do more research to understand their strengths. “You may not necessarily follow what many people do.” In addition, she reminded contestants to manage their time well.
Pursue the Dream
HKDI student Theo Chan, who was shortlisted for the YDC last year, shared his experience. In the early stage of the competing journey, he only had a basic understanding of fashion design, yet managed to complete his first showpiece. “Seeing my design on the show made me have mixed feelings. I want to continue on this path. For me, fashion design is not only about clothes, but also enjoying the process.” He is now busy with his final year project and will prepare for admission to the YDC again next year. After graduation, he would like to continue his studies in fashion design, and establish his own label in the future.
This year, the YDC held several webinars. THEi student Irene Siu learned that the contest promotes local designers. To join the competition, she decided to find inspiration from different fabrics. Another THEi student, Vicki Shiu, said that she had dreamed of participating in the YDC since she was a child, and will participate this year with her graduation works. HKDI student Bella Lau plans to refer to the YDC's archive, then decide whether to join this year depending on the progress of her final year project.
The three students have different plans after graduation. Siu would like to continue to study fashion design, while Shiu plans to learn fashion management and operations. Lau, who has been determined to be a fashion designer since childhood, hopes to gain experience in other companies, then establish her own label one day. Despite their different paths, they all want to enter the fashion industry in the future, and participating in the YDC will definitely help them grow.