If you open your closet and take a look at your fashion collection in it, how many pieces of garments of yours are designed by local fashion brands in Macao? In recent years, the fashion industry in Macao has been emerging. Quite a number of fashion brands have been trying to attract more consumers and increase their market exposure by integrating functionality into their fashion designs, making their fashion items more comfortable to wear and providing new features. In this issue, we have invited three local fashion brands from the pyjamas, shoes and swimwear sector to share their entrepreneurial journey and business philosophy with us.
MACON pyjamas: fun and entertaining sensations
The clothes manufacturing industry in Macao no long enjoys rapid growth in the status quo. But local clothes manufacturers are still making active efforts to facilitate changes in recent years, hoping to find new business directions based on their existing businesses. This was how the original fashion brand MACON came into being. After establishment, MACON is now rolling out fashion series that target the homewear scene. The company first launched fragrant pyjamas, which is an integration of not only aesthetic and design, but also fun and fragrance.
Increasing demand for fashionable homewear
MACON was founded in 2013. According to the brand’s general manager Jane Chan, considering Macao Fuson Group has been good at making and exporting casual clothes and the fact that Macao is perceived as a city of tourism and leisure, MACON therefore mainly targets the casual clothes for women. The company has opened two brick-and-mortar outlets in Zhongshan and has consignment points in Hong Kong and Macao. “After several years of development, MACON has accumulated a fan base. Our fans would consult with us from time to time on whether there are products suitable for their children or their loved ones,” Chan introduced. The slasher culture has risen in recent years and many people have chosen to work from home. That’s why there are now higher standards for homewears. This drove Chan and her team to prepare for a new homewear product line last year.
A combination of fun and fashion
The first product that homewear side line launched had been the Fragrant Pyjamas co-produced by MACON and local young designer Cheng Chi Auntie. The fragrant pyjamas with a delicate design are made of comfortable fabrics and can diffuse fragrance. Consumers can choose from six different fragrances, including bubble tea, sweet honey, peach, etc. According to Chan, the product adopts a technology that allows the pyjamas’ fragrance to be activated by consumers’ body heat. “Once our clients put on the pyjamas, their body heat will activate the fragrance and then the pyjamas will start diffusing perfume scent,” Chan explained. “The fragrance can stay with the pyjamas for at least a year and will not be washed away.”
After making its appearance at two fashion shows in Hong Kong and Macao last September and October, MACON’s six fragrant pyjamas then started trial sales at several outlets in the two cities since December. Macao Fashion Gallery was one of the outlets. “We got satisfying responses from the market, much better than we expected. We got the attention of many young consumers and families,” Chan explained. According to Chan, the company will continue to refine the side product line and is planning to roll out cushions and beddings with fun elements, such as fragrant cushions. “Similar to fragrant pyjamas, we are hoping that clothes won’t just look good, but can also bring new experiences to our customers. We want our customers to have other sensational experiences from a piece of garment,” Chan said.
For Macao’s fashion brands, products with special features can help them get closer to their customers. “Right now, local brands in Macao are not well recognised by consumers yet. Most of the local consumers will not buy our products for our brand name. So local brands need to roll out some appealing products that will attract consumers, and that will provide an opportunity for brands to gain exposure. That’s why the homewear side product line created a channel for consumers to know MACON.”
Crossover cooperation sparks inspiration
The homewear side product line will continue to work with other designers, illustrators and artists for rolling out more crossovers, which will spark more new inspirations and generate better collaboration in the industry. “Macao does have a number of talented designers and artists. They might lack the capacity and experience in making products and marketing. We are trying to solve this problem through crossover collaboration so that we can get more exposure for these designers while getting MACON to be seen by more people,” Chan said.
MACON originally planned to launch its side product line in February or March this year. But considering the impact of the novel coronavirus infection, the launch has been postponed to July or August. These products will be sold through consignment and online platforms, which will mainly target Hong Kong and Macao in the initial phase. “We pay great attention to online pop-up sales because online platforms allow us to reach customers from different backgrounds,” Chan explained. “And pop-up can be more memorable.”
Going beyond Macao
Chan believes that homewear designs such as pyjamas pay more attention to the application of technologies and materials when compared with previous casual wear designs. “Casual clothes value fashion aesthetics and design more. Homewears are relatively simpler. But they give us bigger challenges in term of how to apply innovative technologies on our products,” Chan said. “Take the fragrant pyjamas as an example. The biggest challenge we had when making the fragrant pyjamas was the fragrance technology. We needed to learn how to control the intensity of the fragrance. My nose suffered a lot when trying to master the skills.”
To survive in the industry, local fashion brands in Macao need to look beyond Macao. “Many designers in Macao mentioned that it is hard to find manufacturers to produce their products because the market in the city is too small and therefore the order volume is naturally small. Very few factories would be willing to accept such low-volume orders. Even if there are factories who are willing to take the orders, the cost will be high anyway, which to some extent decreases our competitiveness in the market,” Chan explained. “So the most important thing for local brands is to enter other markets, whether it is the Greater Bay Area or some other places.”
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