While Asia Fashion Exchange 2012 was less than an hour’s flight away from home, the sheer scale and intensity of the week’s events made the distance a lot more pronounced. Seeing homegrown labels on the international platform was absolute comfort, and in turn, brought tingles of patriotic pride to the TiC team. At Blueprint in particular, it was great to see Thirtyfour, KLutched and PU3 do their thing at one of Asia’s most prominent fashion platforms for East-West exchange. We caught up with the ladies behind each brand (Shuennkee, Yiu Lin and Azalea respectively) right after to ask about their experience.

Azalea, Yiu Lin and Shuennkee at Blueprint 2012.

Describe your preparation and journey to Blueprint.
Yiu Lin (Y): We created a special collection for it, on top of our Autumn/Winter 2012 looks that were showed in Paris in March. With KLutched being partly owned by a Singaporean company, we leveraged on our team out in Singapore so the logistics and set up wasn’t too much of a nightmare.
Shuenkee (S): We showed Thirtyfour’s Cruise 2012 line alongside the classics. The setup was a bit tricky because we couldn’t do much to the walls and because we aren’t locals, we didn’t know any contractors or printers, and had to use ones introduced by Blueprint, which we found a tad pricey. I feel the management could have given more aid to international exhibitors in this matter.
Azalea (A): The preparation was crazy as we were also preparing for three other trade shows, working on Raya pieces and clients orders. We drove down because we had to lug sufficient stock for the trade show and emporium, while avoiding the excess baggage that would’ve come with a flight! As my sister Yasmin and I were busy with the designing process, I had my mom monitor the entire production of prototypes at the workshop. We had a team of seven at the workshop and five of us at PU3 including myself to do the paperwork and packing, while Yasmin did the costing, pricing and currency conversions. My husband helped us out a lot in terms of carrying all the heavyweights! It was hectic, especially during the last few days, trying to meet the deadline but we managed.

The Thirtyfour booth at Blueprint 2012.

What was the aim for your Blueprint trip?
Y: We expected more from Blueprint than last year due to it being more costly in participation fees, so we expected more international coverage and also the presence of better and quality buyers. We were pleasantly surprised with BP2011 due to the coverage we received in Vogue Italia and Harpers Bazaar UK, and also by managing to secure two new buyers.
S and A: We wanted to create brand awareness and acquire more stockists and consignees.

The KLutched booth at Blueprint 2012.

Describe your Blueprint experience.
Y: The Blueprint staff and team that I dealt with were most gracious and helpful with all matters. Blueprint is definitely a more intimate trade show and as such we got to meet a handful of quality buyers, who perhaps are not with big budgets for this mid season buy, but its a good point for us to build the relationship with them.
S: It started off a bit hectic, but overall its a good experience. The emporium was good for us, but there should be more centralised credit card payment counters – we heard quite a few customers complaining about the distance.
A: It was a wonderful experience because we met so many great talents, which is both inspiring and motivating. We also met some potential buyers, but they weren’t as aggressive as we’d hoped – like the ones in Paris. But we did receive enquiries and we are currently following up with them. I also realised that the market there is slightly different – they like either black, prints or vibrant colours. Our currents pieces are mainly nudes and dusty hues, so they were not as well received!

PU3 showed monochromatic nudes at Blueprint 2012.

How would you like Blueprint to evolve, personally?
I feel there needs to be more genuine buyer-brand mingling sessions, whereby brands are not placed below the buyers, in fact all positioned on the same playing field. Brands wouldn’t be anything without buyers, and buyers can’t be anything without the brands. I also hope that BP carefully positions itself well in the fashion trade show circuit as at the end of the day, its a numbers game for brands. The returns needs to always justify the investment, hence we will always be making decisions using that rule.
S: In the future, the management could give more assistance for set up and display, especially for international exhibitors.
A: The booths could probably be slightly bigger, preferably with better locations. Also, more structured individual business meetings would be great.

The KLutched booth at Blueprint 2012.

What do you like most about Blueprint?
That its still quite a young show, and that the room for opportunities and growth are immense. The team is young, spirited and determined so that’s especially exciting.
S: I think its great to have an international trade show in our region.
A: Love the designer showcase that spotlights each country during its launch day. It was an honour for PU3 to represent Malaysia in this sense.


Images by Jonathan Liu, and courtesy of PU3 and Thirtyfour.