Building on the success of the two previous years with C-level contributions from policy makers, brands, vendors and other industry stakeholders, the Global Footwear Retail Conference (GFRC) will resume the debate on the key issues impacting the future of the retail footwear industry.
There is a lot of uncertainty about the future of global commercial development. De-globalisation and increasing protectionism prevail in some parts of the world such as in the US which recently withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Yet, at the same time trade facilitation reforms such as the first Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) concluded by the World Trade Organization (WTO) which entered into force in February, aim at expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods across borders. China, which still heavily relies on exportation to continue its economic growth, is also taking the lead in promoting bi-lateral agreement with individual countries.
All these new commerce and trading systems have an impact on the sourcing, the production sites and on the prices of footwear. “The FDRA was very supportive of the TPP, which would have saved our industry $6 billion over ten years and we worked for years to advance this important agreement,” recalls Thomas Crockett, Director of the Government & Regulatory Affairs of the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America (FDRA).
This 12-nation agreement involved key markets for the U.S. footwear industry, including Vietnam and Japan, and would have saved U.S. footwear companies and consumers more than half a billion dollars a year, according to the FDRA.
Despite its disappointment, the FDRA pledged to continue to support efforts for U.S. bilateral free trade agreements and to work on trade agreements that will deliver real value for American footwear consumers and strengthen U.S. footwear companies.
The TPP, the role of China and other hypothesis will be discussed at the coming GFRC. Thomas Crockett will be joined by Peter Mangione, Managing Director and Founder of the Global Footwear Partnership LLC, Felix Chung Kwok-Pan, member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong for the textiles and garment constituency and by Frank Leung Yat Cheong, President, Federation of Hong Kong Footwear Ltd to debate about these issues.
Find out about Hong Kong’s Fashion Disruptor
Successful brands are the ones capable of creating compelling products and stories through personalised experiences. In the topic about “disruptive technologies” footwear specialist and founder of the Hong Kong based “Fashion Disruptors” community, Ashok Jayaraman will provide examples and tools to illustrate the various existing and future technologies that enable to craft the personalised experiences that will bring customers back to retail. The “fashion disruptors” community of about 100 members includes entrepreneurs, designers and industry professionals and is a platform for networking and for helping entrepreneurs bring disruptive fashion concepts to market.
Despite all the buzz about multi-channel retail, surveys show that shopping in-store is still the dominant means of buying for consumers both in the US and in the Asia-Pacific region. While the majority of US consumers have purchased apparel both online and offline, brick-and-mortar is still the most-used transaction channel for apparel and footwear purchases. In November 2016, 62 % of footwear was purchased online versus 39% online and 10% over mobile phones, according to the survey US Consumer Analysis: Apparel and Footwear, released in February 2017 by Fung Global Retail & Technology. In fact, US consumers’ attitude towards fashion and their purchase behavior has changed little over the past five years.
“We expect brick-and-mortar to remain the dominant store format for US apparel and footwear retail in the near future,” says Eddie Wong, Senior Research Associate, Fung Global Retail & Technology. However, a majority (78%) of consumers search for footwear online before they go to the store to buy shoes, which shows how necessary it is for footwear vendors to offer a seamless online to offline experience to their customers. “The internet is not yet a significantly large channel in terms of apparel and footwear purchases but it increasingly influences how consumers shop for apparel offline,” Wong adds.
Wong will also speak about the increasingly important senior market and how to cater to them.
Please click here for the full programme and speaker profiles.
Media registration now open
Complimentary registration for members of the press is available here until 27 March. For media enquiries, please contact Ms. Kennise Pang, Senior Marketing Communications Executive at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also while you are there for the conference, take advantage of visiting the two major trade shows for the global leather and fashion industries – APLF-Leather & Materials+ & Fashion Access held concurrently from 29 – 31 March by registering here for a complimentary press badge.
For more information on the two trade fairs, please visit www.leatherfair.aplf.com or www.fashionaccess.aplf.com.
We would like to thank our partners InvestHK (www.investhk.gov.hk), Italian Trade Comission (www.italtrade.com), Hong Kong Footwear Association (www.hkfootwear.org), Federation of Hong Kong Brands (www.hongkongbrands.org) and Total Shoe Concept (www.totalshoeconcept.com) for their support.