Making a change is never easy, and dramatic change harder still. However, this week marked the first anniversary of the groundbreaking creation of the Asian Couture Federation (ACF). Over the past year, the ACF has transcended cultural differences and geographical boundaries to establish its prominence and influence in the Asian fashion industry. As a governing body for Asia based couture design talents, it has received the support and recognition from Heads of State such as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan along with immense coverage from the world’s most influential media for its efforts in nurturing and promoting the Asian fashion industry. A year on, it is a timely moment to reflect on a busy year, its tremendous achievements, and bring forth the lessons learned as we plan ahead for our second year.
Over the last twelve months, the Executive Board led by Founding President Dr. Frank Cintamani has travelled to the various countries our governors and designers operate in to dissect and discuss the latest fashion trends and the unique challenges that they face. Above all, the aim has been to provide support and opportunities whenever needed. As a moment of sharing, it has also been fertile ground to seek out new designers both established and emerging to welcome into the federation. This has seen us continue to grow, and welcome new designers into the fold. Most notably, this has included Alvin Fernandez (Australia) and Tamae Hirokawa (Japan) as two new ‘Invited Members’ and Nguyen Cong Tri (Vietnam) as an ‘Asian Couturier Extraordinaire’.
Recognising the importance of network capital, we have also made several positive steps towards building relationships with counterpart organisations and key fashion leaders from around the world. Through business meetings, working lunches and intimate dinner affairs, there have been numerous opportunities for dialogue and communication. It is this openness to assimilate into the increasingly borderless fashion world and the ability to adapt to a plethora of different cultures that has earned the federation the invaluable friendship and trust of prominent designers from AltaRoma, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and La Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, as well as fashion influencers around the world. Perhaps the best testament to the ACF’s importance has been the numerous invitations from many governments and fashion platforms to present our designers in their countries.
The partnership with the Telstra Perth Fashion Festival (TPFF) in September marked a significant milestone towards our goal “to inspire, support and promote the highest levels of Asia-based fashion design artistry to the Asian and global markets.” Introducing a couture component to the sixteen-year-old landmark fashion event proved to be a highlight of the festival, and has helped to build new clients and interest for a number of our designers including Michael Cinco, Sebastian Gunawan and Frederick Lee. The ACF has also played a critical role in building a link between Western Australia and Asia, and this ‘gateway to Asia’ concept is one that we look forward to developing over the coming years.
Likewise, the collaboration with the Vietnam International Fashion Week (VIFW) heralds further efforts to reach into exciting new markets, especially Vietnam which has emerged as a dynamic and creative hub for design talents and creativity. The VIFW 2014 organised by Multimedia JSC – the producers of Project Runway Vietnam and Vietnam Next Top Model and FIDé Fashion Weeks – Asia’s most innovative fashion weeks is set to be a key milestone in Asia’s fashion landscape. Working in partnership with the ACF, it will be an opportunity to present leading Asian Couturiers alongside Vietnam’s foremost fashion talent. More importantly, it will help to expand the ACF’s reach and influence, and serve as a platform for cultivating new members and governors. In November, the federation will be holding the ACF Awards Gala at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. A fitting occasion to mark the ACF’s first anniversary, it will also be a celebration of the individuals shaping the Asian and global fashion industries. The first fashion awards ceremony in Asia of an international calibre, it will honour leading fashion influencers, designers, and media personalities. It will also pay homage to the world’s leading couturiers with fashion presentations from designers representing not just Asia, but also France, Italy and the Middle East. With the presence of a special couture exhibition, the creativity, beauty and artistry of this highest form of fashion will be clear for all to see.
In one year, the ACF has made great strides. It has expanded its reach, influence and remit. It has gained also respect from leading fashion organisations and most importantly made great gains for its members in raising the profile of Asian couture talent. The last year has been a fulfilling year for the federation and we are looking forward to the year ahead and the many successes we are certain it will bring!