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Style Check: The Evolution of Asian Fashion Weeks

The major fashion weeks can take their toll. If you're an editor or a buyer who has made it through New York, London, Milan and Paris, it's unlikely you'll want to see a catwalk for some time.

But as the industry's influence spreads and cities develop stronger homegrown fashion scenes, it is inevitable that regional fashion weeks should emerge. Often they have very different roles.

Tokyo Fashion Week has just finished and Friday marks the start of China Fashion Week in Beijing. The focus of these events seems to be local talent, with many of the brands having mostly domestic followings.

As soon as the dust had settled on Paris Fashion Week, Singapore's Fide Fashion Week was under way. It brought together a mish-mash of European and Asian designers, and collections from contemporary to haute couture.

Was it strange that high street Hong Kong brand Moiselle was showing on the catwalk in the same schedule as French couturier Stephane Rolland? Certainly. But maybe it is unfair to compare the newer fashion weeks to Paris, Milan or New York.

How these emerging events evolve will be interesting to watch. They hardly register on the international radar but introduce brands to new clientele and support local creativity.

Fide Fashion Week is case in point. Although the event's aim to make Singapore a "global fashion hub" may be far-fetched, its ability to draw international designers such as Alexis Mabille and Rolland, Pierre Balmain and Guo Pei, is impressive.

It's also an opportunity for the designers to gain access to wealthy Asian markets.

The Singapore event saw the launch of the Asian Couture Federation (AFC), started by Fide Fashion Week chairman Frank Cintamani. Inspired by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris and the Council of Fashion Designers of America in New York, the ACF was created to nurture and support Asian couture designers. Whether it is successful, only time will tell.

This kind of initiative is most definitely needed in Asia. Young designers in Hong Kong complain of a lack of support from the government and industry. The same can be said for many other Asian cities that are seeing new money flood into fashion - mostly into the hands of European luxury brands.

Asia's fashion industry should demand a slice of the pie. Fashion weeks, even the amateur versions, if done right, could make that happen. In an environment of heavy-handed marketing, the new events would do well to balance the creative and the commercial to gain respect and recognition.

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