A closer look at Chinese Fashion Market during COVID through PV Shenzhen

While China fought the epidemic resolutely, various regions of the country took varying degrees of control measures to contain new waves of the pandemic in the first half of 2022. The planned “bustling” large-scale order fairs and upstream and downstream trade shows had to be postponed or canceled in March and April. Concurrently, the regional restrictions limited consumption scenarios, and a shift in consumer priorities forced fashion brands to be more cautious than ever in their R&D, production, and sales processes. Both PVSZ and the exhibitors faced a major challenge at this stage.

However, opportunity came along with challenges.

When PVSZ announced that the exhibition would be postponed in March, the team responded swiftly by setting up the PVSZ 1-to-1, closed-door business matchmaking event, which is aimed at high-end fashion buyers’ sourcing needs and exhibitors who are R&D-oriented. This event was necessary to keep the R&D schedule and sourcing on track.

In less than six weeks, the PVSZ team organized 74 business matchmaking. The matchmaking provided end-to-end matchmaking for commercial brands, fashion e-commerce, independent designers, ready-to-wear studios, and customization studios from five segments of high-end fashion brand in China.

Before the release of this article, there had been a total of 57 successful cases, and the number is still growing. The data indicated that 90.9% of exhibitors were able to connect with at least one core sourcing decision maker of their designated target brands successfully.

While, 57.14% of exhibitors were able to connect with three or more sourcing or R&D key decision-makers from their designated brands.

This accomplishment surpassed all expectations, especially in the first quarter of 2022, when epidemic prevention and control had a significant impact on the market. Unique products with ultimate creativity were the biggest advantage of PVSZ’s exhibitors, not absolute cost-effectiveness.” According to Zhang Wenyu, PVSZ project director, “All PVSZ exhibitors went through a rigorous evaluation of PV systems to ensure that they can continuously provide continuous products with ‘ultimate creativity.’ To put it another way, it meant that the exhibitors would have to heavily invest in preliminary research and development behind the scenes.”

So, which companies are particularly popular with buyers at this time? What are the most important factors affecting the success of the trade? What are the most pressing needs and opportunities created by the recent market downturn?

We’ve sorted out the key factors to “swimming against the tide” in the business matchmaking process to provide some business inspiration for our industry colleagues.

1. Among the exhibitors:

Three incredible success stories from three different fields, all of which are equally awesome.

 RECYCTEX, Sirena Textile, and ÌZHANG had all accomplished impressive feats in this round of business matchmaking. As a first time PV exhibitor in China, RECYCTEX was able to connect with 8 brands including Chinese high-end luxury fashion brands and highly prestigious independent designers. The company had made a significant first step into China’s fashion market.

What are the characteristics that make them particularly favored by the market? What were the brand’s current perspectives on their own development and market challenges? Following the business matchmaking, we spoke with the company leaders of the three brands to get their thoughts on the process and their understanding of the current market.

Opportunity 1: Opting for sustainable materials is an irreversible future trend.

Long-term reform in the fashion industry must begin at the source. Hence, replacing traditional raw materials with sustainable materials is gradually becoming the key to a company’s and fashion brand’s long-term sustainability. According to this philosophy, textile companies and material companies are constantly developing new environmentally friendly materials which exceed the limit of people’s imagination in every way.

RECYCTEX founder Steven Chueng said, “We were quite surprised to learn that we were the most popular brand with the most buyers in the business matchmaking. We have a low profile in China compared to our success in Europe and North America.

In terms of why we’re popular, I believe it’s because our products align with a current trend that Chinese companies or fashion brands are interested in exploring or working on, namely the sustainable trend.

A brand must be able to keep up with current trends and react quickly to consumer feedback. We are committed to making recycled, eco-friendly, bio-based, and biodegradable materials. Our current work is closely related to many of the country’s policies or slogans, such as sustainable fashion, circular economy, eco-friendly, waste segregation, plastic waste reduction, biodiversity protection, and so on.”

“The adoption of environmentally friendly materials by domestic brands is on the rise,” Steven said of the current state of environmental-friendly material adoption in China. “As the public’s awareness of sustainability grows, it will take an ever increasing share of the market. The reason why the use of sustainable materials is not as widespread in China as it is in other countries is primarily due to a major roadblock: some brands simply follow the trend and lack a deep understanding or respect for sustainable materials. A company or brand will only recognize the importance of using renewable, bio-based, or degradable materials if it is sufficiently motivated. The impact would be transformative if all domestic brands shared this ideology!”

Opportunity 2: The trend of internationalization, combined with the ability to provide localized service.

Sophie, the director of Sirena Textile, shared her thoughts on business matchmaking with us. “PVSZ’s business matchmaking was very professional and friendly. The team did everything they could to keep the connection going till the end. In terms of the matching degree, the number of matches was small, but they were extremely precise in terms of compatibility. They were well matched to our company’s expectations and plans.

We’ve already scheduled site visits with the newly matched buyers after the pandemic. In the future, we hope to see more of these types of activities, which will benefit all three parties.” Sophie also mentioned that, The domestic market has abundant resources.

As a platform that valued development capabilities, PVSZ had gathered new domestic brands with R&D capabilities and actively responded to the development needs of local brands.”

“Fashion trends are important because the changes will drive market direction. It is critical for brands to research and study seasonal trends. PVSZ provides PV trend reports and PV color ranges to exhibitors, which are extremely practical tools for us to get more inspiration during the development process.” Sophie said of capturing market trends.

Opportunity 3: The market favors creative and unique products.

ÌZHANG, a new exhibitor specializing pattern design who joined the PV system in 2022, did well in the first round of business matchmaking.

“The market is changing due to the constant changes in the brand’s demand for pattern design, and the overall demand tends to be diversified and inclusive to make the pattern design more unique.” explained by Guo, who is in charge of the company.

“When it comes to the market, we always follow the same design philosophy: creativity is an expression of ingenuity, and the result of that expression is a unique product. We’ll keep pushing the limits of print design, color distribution, and pattern layout, while keeping an eye on industry trends.

Together with PVSZ, we will provide one-of-a-kind print designs for domestic and international markets!”

2. PVSZ’s determinant factor: Prepare ahead of time to match buyers’ requirements with exhibitors’ core competencies.

Moreover, no success can be achieved without meticulous planning. Long before the start of the business matchmaking, PVSZ had conducted targeted interviews and research with representatives of high-end fashion brands to summarize the key factors that influence buyers’ decisions. PVSZ worked carefully with exhibitors to ensure that key information gathered for decision-making was objective and accurate. The core advantages of suppliers were presented to the buyer brands the moment they came into contact with supplier information. These steps significantly improved the efficiency of the selection process.

3. From the buyer’s perspective: Differentiated products or ultimate cost performance are the new requirements of buyers, but the products must also be eco-friendly.

Through interactions with a large number of high-end fashion brands during this business matchmaking, we also noticed that the buyers’ procurement needs had gradually changed.

According to Xiao Shuang, buyer manager of PVSZ business matchmaking, “Today’s high-end brand buyers would like to upgrade their brands, so they’re more focused on finding the right suppliers, paying special attention to those with R&D capabilities.

Meanwhile, many buyers will prefer an outstanding single item that can achieve the best cost performance, even if it is a product in a common mass-market category. 

Finally, in today’s market, where environmental friendliness has become an essential decision-making factor influencing consumer purchases, buyers are clearly on the lookout for a clean and environmentally friendly manufacturing process that is consistent with a sustainable green supply chain.

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