Viet Nam News
Inner Sanctum: Do you think Việt Nam really has a fashion industry ?
Not yet! Việt Nam does not really have a fashion industry. Our TV reality programmes about fashion and international fashion weeks have just created a start for the fashion industry and given a new face to the country’s fashion. Asian countries likes Japan, South Korea, Thailand and China have a developed fashion industry.
Việt Nam is ranked fifth for garment outsourcing worldwide. Several international famous fashion brands have their products made in Việt Nam. Our workers have the ability to create sophisticated clothes. We have not built our own brands or taken advantage of our resources. Việt Nam has a lot of potential which has not been exploited well.
Fashion is not the only thing displayed on the catwalk. It is lifestyle. When people ride a beautiful car, they love to dress in beautiful clothes and shoes, nice hand bags, and luxurious jewelry.
Inner Sanctum: What conditions should Việt Nam have to develop a fashion industry like other countries in the region?
First, we should build fashion brands for ourselves. The government has not seen the potential and importance of the fashion industry.
In South Korea, the government invests a lot in movies to promote their culture. More than 10 years ago, nobody knew about Korean fashion. Korean films introduce cars, mobile phones and fashion, creating new lifestyle trends that influence the younger generation. In order to do that, the government had to invest a lot of money.
We also need an army of skilled designers. Currently, schools of fashion design in Việt Nam are rare. Only a few schools have the ability to the world’s fashion trend. Fashion is a harsh sector. It changes every six months.
Having skilled designers is still not enough. The other important thing is the source of materials. Most materials used in Việt Nam are imported. Our old weaving factories have been closed for a long time. I think we should revive craft villages. We used to have a strong silk weaving trade at villages. The government should create favourable conditions to revive the villages. I know that several international famous brands buy silk fabrics made in Việt Nam for their products.
The workmanship of Vietnamese workers is very good. World-famous fashion brands have their products made in Việt Nam and their products meet international standards. If we have our products made and sold in Việt Nam, the business sector will benefit.
Việt Nam has 90 million people. If 30 per cent of them wear Vietnamese clothes, the country’s economy will benefit. At that time, we would not have to import clothes.
Inner Sanctum: You have been to several countries with Vietnamese models and designers to attend fashion events. Which country’s fashion industry impressed you the most?
Before entering the fashion sector, I sold television copyright. I visited South Korea often to buy their films and sell to local television stations. I was their client, so they offered me free hotel accommodation and air tickets. After every visit, I bought several US$100,000 films. The films were screened in Việt Nam. Unintentially, Korean culture, including tourism and fashion, was promoted in Việt Nam.
In the last two years, when I began organising international fashion weeks, I returned to South Korea to study more carefully the country’s fashion industry. The money for organising their international fashion weeks is paid by the government.
I have to pay myself for a similar event. When they organise an event, the people of Asia rush to South Korea. They not only receive a huge amount of money from the fashion industry, but also from tourism and other services.
Inner Sanctum: You have successfully paved the way for Việt Nam’s future fashion industry by training a new generation of models and designers acknowledged by the world. Has any garment corporation come to you for cooperation?
Major garment companies in Việt Nam focus on outsourcing. They don’t really have a design staff. We are not ready to cooperate with the companies. We want to assist those who are enthusiastic about fashion such as designers and local fashion brands including Canifa, Ivy Moda and others. The private fashion brands are very dynamic and active. They are willing to change and keep up to date with the world’s fashion trends.
I realise that local garment companies are not really enthusiastic in developing the domestic fashion sector. Việt Nam should have a fashion association to develop the local fashion industry. The association that I have proposed would coordinate with the Việt Nam Textile and Apparel Association.
Inner Sanctum: As an industry insider, what can you do to influence regional countries as South Korea has done in Việt Nam ?
Recently, we worked with Chinese Hong Kong, to promote the fashion sector. When we have an association for fashion, cooperation between countries will be more convenient. There will be more cooperation opportunities and we will work with other countries to promote Vietnamese fashion.
Organising international fashion week is also a way to promote Vietnamese fashion. Beside inviting foreign designers to Việt Nam for the events, in the future, I will send Vietnamese designers to introduce their collections in foreign countries.
Embassies of several countries including France, Italy and Japan have paid a great deal of attention to Việt Nam International Fashion Week. The ambassador of Israel wants to invite Vietnamese designers to attend a fashion week in Israel and Israeli designers will visit Việt Nam.
I hope that after 10 years Vietnamese fashion will become a new market in Asia. Several foreigners were surprised to hear about international fashion week in Việt Nam. They thought we would not be able to organise such a professional event.
After our fashion weeks, several local fashion brands have become more popular and more people have started wearing dresses of Vietnamese brands.
Inner Sanctum: You originally were not trained in the fashion field. Did you face challenges in reaching these achievements?
I am neither a model nor a designer. I began my career as an accountant. Later, I had an opportunity to work in the television industry. Without my experience in finance and accounting, I would not have reached today’s achievement. Working in fashion, I look at everything with the eye of a business person.
When I brought designers Hoàng Minh Hà and Lý Giám Tiền to attend international fashion weeks in other countries, instead of sitting in the hall to see the wonderful world of fashion, I chose to sit backstage to see how the fashion world operated. VNS