ECO-BOTTLES made from corn, creative home appliances, eco-friendly electronic gadgets as well as artworks that integrate trendy fashion with traditional Chinese elements are but a few of the many innovative and funky items that can be found at the upcoming In Style Hong Kong (ISHK) Expo 2017.
ISHK Expo is making its debut in Kuala Lumpur to introduce Hong Kong’s leading products and services to the Malaysian trade community after a successful launch in Jakarta and Bangkok.
Organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), the trade exhibition will host 40 exhibitors across five main categories – gifts and premiums; eco-friendly products; electronic gadgets and home appliances; fine jewellery and watches; and fashion accessories and optical products.
The two-day event will be held at the Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur’s Diamond Ballroom and Foyer from Nov 7 to 8.
Visitors at the In Style Hong Kong Expo 2015 in Jakarta.
In an exclusive interview with StarMetro at HKTDC headquarters in Wan Chai, Hong Kong, HKTDC product promotion department manager Elvin Law said trade visitors from various sectors such as quality importers, distributors, mass retailers, e-tailers, mail-order houses, department stores and specialised stores are expected, along with 20 delegations, mostly from Malaysia.
Malaysian buyers have a strong presence in Hong Kong trade fairs and look out for lifestyle products, he added.
“Malaysia is Hong Kong’s fourth largest export destination in Asean, after Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand. Increased exports by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.6% was recorded from 2009 to 2013.
“Apart from electronic parts and components, Hong Kong’s export of consumer goods to Malaysia experienced robust growth with a CAGR of 11.4% over the same period, reaching US$741mil (RM3.1bil),” he shared.
The Eco Concepts drinking mugs incorporate eco-friendly materials and designs.
The majority of consumer goods exports were lifestyle products such as jewellery, clothing, accessories, watches and digital cameras.
With its gross domestic product (GDP) ranking third among Asean economies, Malaysia is an important emerging market, Law added.
He pointed out that Malaysians were already familiar with Hong Kong’s celebrities and lifestyle while products and services have been well received by Malaysians.
This was evident through a HKTDC survey on Hong Kong as a lifestyle trendsetter for South-East Asia’s middle-class consumers in which 73% of Kuala Lumpur respondents regarded Hong Kong’s fashion and accessories as the region’s most admirable asset, followed by electronic products, food and entertainment.
“Through this expo, we aim to establish Hong Kong’s role as a lifestyle trendsetter in the region, offering quality products to Malaysia’s market while targeting Kuala Lumpur as the hub to reach nearby countries such as Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines,” he said.
Programmes taking place alongside the expo include the In Style Hong Kong Symposium on Nov 7, highlighting how Hong Kong service companies could facilitate Malaysian companies to stay competitive and expand their global business, especially in China’s market.
The PMQ, located in the middle Central District Hong Kong, offers a creative platform for local designers.
There will also be an exclusive gala dinner on the same day at Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur for 500 prominent officials and business leaders from Hong Kong and Malaysia.
A Frequent Buyer awards ceremony, networking luncheon and CEO dialogue entitled Engagement with Business Leaders under 45 make up the highlights for Nov 8.
Complimentary onsite business-matching service will also be available during the two-day event as well as lucky draws for buyers.
“The ISHK allows for various networking opportunities, trade talks and business meetings. We are confident of boosting the value of trade transactions between Hong Kong and Malaysia,” said Law, adding that for 2016, it recorded US$15bil (RM63.6bil). So far this year, for the period between January and August, it has reached US$10.83bil (RM45.85bil).
Hong Kong creativity
StarMetro also had a chance to view HKTDC’s Design Gallery, located on the ground floor of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, right below the council’s office.
Products such as premium gifts, electronics, household appliances, toys, watches, jewellery, clothing and accessories lined the racks neatly, each brand clearly labelled with their individual stories.
The Design Gallery offers a retail platform for Hong Kong’s homegrown designers and manufacturers to create brand awareness while promoting Hong Kong as a regional creative capital.
Among the interesting brands were Eco Concepts, which has a green agenda to protect Mother Nature through its range of poly lactic acid (PLA) products while inspiring people to go plastic-free.
A chat with its director Phoebe Wong at the store gave a better understanding of the brand concept.
“Our products look like they’re made from plastic, but they are plastic-free. We use PLA, a 100% natural material, made from plant starch extract.
“Our range of drinkware products are heat-resistant, microwave-safe, and more importantly, safe for our bodies when consumed,” explained Wong, adding that the biodegradable mugs can last up to three years with proper care.
She added that Eco Concepts may be the only Hong Kong company producing PLA durable items at the moment.
“ISHK 2017 would be an ideal platform to venture into the Malaysian market,” said Wong.
Kitchen appliances with cute rooster designs available at Design Gallery.
Other products under the brand include fashion accessories such as luggage tags, pouches and passport holders.
The company also collaborates with talented artists for exclusive collections, and organisations such as Singapore Zoo and WWF Hong Kong.
Also promoting the local creative industry is PMQ, the former Hollywood Road Police Married Quarters which has undergone revitalisation and transformed into a creative hub.
Remnants of the original heritage site, which was Central School, have been conserved with information for visitors to learn about its past.
Stepping into PMQ which is located in the busy Central District, gives you instant serenity, but only because it was a weekday; it is usually crowded with visitors on weekends.
Housing over 100 tenants, the hub comprises design studios, offices, cafes, along with flea markets. It also periodically hosts events.
Meanwhile, another first at ISHK 2017 is Underthepillow Limited, the licensor for Sing Sing Rabbit, an up-and-coming Hong Kong homegrown cartoon character.
The character, a mysterious girl underneath a huge rabbit head resembling a lamp shade, was created in 2011 for a music video titled 1 song 10 sing on YouTube.
Founder of Underthepillow Limited, the mysterious girl underneath the rabbit head who only wanted to be known as Sing Sing Rabbit, said the character has much positive energy, inspiring people to think out of the box and go for their dreams.
“This is in line with its tagline ‘Live Your Dreams’. Within a few years, Sing Sing Rabbit has achieved a lot since releasing her debut album, from shooting a space music video in Perth, Australia, collaborating with Henderson Group for Easter mall decorations and merchandise, to signing with a Japanese management agency collaborating with Japanese mobile game giant Donuts for a theme song, among others.
“Participating in the ISHK 2017 expo will be another step closer to establishing Sing Sing Rabbit as an international brand,” she said at an interview at Sigema store in Langham Place, Mong Kok.
Sing Sing Rabbit currently has its own line of merchandise such as beauty accessories, plush toys and gadgets in over 40 counters across Hong Kong.
It is also working together with some stores for exclusive collections, and teaming up with charitable organisations while promoting eco-education.
In conjunction with the upcoming ISHK 2017, HKTDC has rolled out its ISHK Citywide Promotion across participating stores and malls in the Klang Valley to highlight Hong Kong’s vibrant lifestyle and creativity through its design-led products, trendy fashion and culinary experiences.
Until end of this month, the campaign has engaged 30 Hong Kong and Malaysian brands, featuring over 140 restaurants and retail outlets, to offer exclusive deals and discounts to customers.
There will also be pop-up stores as well as on-ground activities.
For details on ISHK2017, visit instyle-hk.com