HK designer sees upside in "made in China" label
By Susan Fenton
HONG KONG (Reuters) - It's not usually seen conferring cachet in international fashion, but for up-and-coming Hong Kong designer Dorian Ho the "Made in China" label is an asset that he hopes will establish him as a global name.
Tapping into the popularity of Western-style weddings in Asia, Ho has built a brand of "haute couture" and ready-to-wear bridal and evening gowns that he sells in Asia, the United Sates and soon plans to launch in Europe.
It might not be a Valentino or Oscar de la Renta, but at $2,000, a Dorian Ho silk taffeta ball dress is a third of the price of a Valentino or Versace equivalent.
"Few people can afford to own many Valentino gowns, but for one Valentino, they can afford to own two or three of my gowns," said Ho, 37, whose collections carry his name including Dorian Ho Couture, Dorian Ho Bridal Collection and Dorian Ho Collections.
Using couture fabrics shipped in from Europe, the gowns are stitched at Ho's own factory in southern China and embellished with intricate beading by highly skilled seamstresses.
Relatively low production costs in China, says Ho, allow him to liberally use the highest quality imported silks, lace and other fabrics and accessories.
But the burning question is whether customers will fork out thousands of dollars for premium gowns that are made in China.
Many European fashion houses believe they won't and are keeping at least their high-end designs close to home so they can control quality and optimize their "Made in Europe" labels to fend off low-priced competitors such as Ho. Continued...