Following our AFC Session on Exporting to Hong Kong last year, we caught up with guest speakers and AFC Members; Dan Tse and Eugene Leung from INJURY.
WHAT’S YOUR INDUSTRY BACKGROUND AND WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO FASHION?
Eugene was trained professionally as an architect and he is also a music composer, a cult-film fan and a vintage toy collector. He turned his enthusiasm in sub-culture into founding his own fashion label INJURY in 2004.
Dan joined INJURY in 2008 as the Womenswear Design Director, established the womenswear line and expanded the business to a global network, with a strong focus in Asia.
YOU’VE ALSO BEEN INVOLVED IN A NUMBER OF OTHER PROJECTS AS CONSULTANTS, TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THIS AREA OF YOUR WORK…
We work as Curators and Creative Directors on fashion campaigns, events & alternative culture festivals, to promote independent fashion brands and unite the fashion industry; Many of these projects are in Hong Kong, for example, FFFRIDAY 2018 organised by Fashion Farm Foundation, which is all about mixed reality. We created the first-ever Hong Kong virtual girl model - Fynn, as the ambassador of the year, with a 30 seconds CGI promo video showing on the biggest TV screen in Hong Kong. The highlighted campaign is ‘FFFRIDAY Create Your Avatar’ - a high tech scanning machine that the public can scan their face within 60 seconds and create their very own avatar to dress in Hong Kong designer-wear in the virtual world.
AND HOW DID ‘INJURY’ COME TO BE?
INJURY has begun as a Street Art Collective in 2002, Eugene created the brand to pursue his vision for a multi-disciplinary creative brand that applies appropriation and refinement of alternative culture into fashion products.
We started our first collection with a massive baby “Cyborg Arm” hinged swing-tags that takes inspiration from vintage hinged paper doll and ours is over 40cm in size in length, to goes with every piece of garment for our debut collection, a visual impact we are trying to create, and many of the later collections include mini films and music tracks to let the customers dive deeper into our brand universe.
Since 2019, we have established INJURY as a music label and has released a vinyl album called ‘Groundwork’, the music we created was a special cross-disciplinary collaboration for an architecture exhibition - a massive inflatable art that is over 3,000 sqft.
HOW DID YOU FIRST APPROACH YOUR EXPORT STRATEGY FOR INJURY?
Like many other Australian brands, we started off joining Australian fashion week to gain retail shop orders and distribution deals from local and overseas. In 2004, the brand has launched a full unisex collection at Mercedes-Benz Australian Fashion Week in Melbourne, where the collection was sold to Orson & Blake and Incu. We also met the top buyer from BEAMS Japan and they invited us for a formal meeting in Tokyo to discuss our distribution deal for INJURY. The Year after we signed a distribution deal with Jack of All Trades - one of the biggest distributors in Japan at that time.
In Year 2008 we started showing at trade shows in the USA and Paris, and signed a 3-year deal with a Hong Kong multi-label showroom. Since then we were selling to over 15 stores in Hong Kong, such as I.T., Harvey Nichols, D-mop, Liger Store, etc. We have also started to sell in other Asian countries like Singapore, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Macau.
In Year 2014, we joined the first-ever independent fashion designer brand showroom in Shanghai. There were only 24 designers invited to participate in this showroom and INJURY was the only foreign brand alongside the best independent Chinese fashion designer brands. The collection was very well received in the Chinese market and we gained orders from very good select stores instantly, most of them from Shanghai, Beijing, and Chengdu.
We have also showcased our collections in multiple international fashion weeks, while expanding our product line to include also eyewear and footwear; These shows include Resort 2015 at MBFWA here in Sydney, on-schedule runway show in on schedule New York Fashion Week in SS16, and on-schedule runway show in on schedule Paris Fashion Week for both Autumn-Winter 16 and Spring-Summer 17, which have been very well received and helped a lot in promoting our brand into different market segments and gaining more exposure.
HOW HAS THE BRAND BEEN RECEIVED BY GLOBAL CONSUMERS AND INDUSTRY?
Over the years, INJURY has earned continuous support from celebrities in Australia and overseas, such as Guy Sebastian (AU) , Ronan Keating (UK), Huang Xiao Ming (CHINA) , Sammi Cheng (HK), Eason Chan (HK), and Charlene Choi (HK). Our brand was featured on international and local press coverages including WAD magazine (USA), WWD (USA), So-en (JP), Men's non-no (JP), Sense (JP), ELLE magazine (HK), Marie Claire (HK), Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, etc.
INJURY was stocked in over 80 of the most exclusive retailers in Australia and Asia, including Harvey Nichols, I.T, D-mop, Alter Style, Wut Berlin, OAK NYC, etc.
WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR OTHER AUSTRALIAN BRANDS TRYING TO BREAK INTO THE ASIA MARKET?
You always have to think about global market when running a niche business in such a fast-changing environment. There are multiple ways to get into the Asia market, by joining international fashion week, tradeshows, finding a sales agent or virtual showroom, etc. It is important to note that no matter which ways you use to run your B2B, these are all platforms or mediums for you to reach your potential buyers, it is simply a meeting place for you when you go overseas. There’s a lot of preparation work involved to make the most out of the resources and effort you spend on doing so. You will have to keep evaluating and be persistent.
ANY MISTAKES THAT YOU’VE MADE AND LEARNT FROM ALONG THE EXPORT JOURNEY?
During our Melbourne Fashion Week show in 2005, Eugene met the top buyer from Beams Japan and they invited us to further meet in Tokyo to discuss our distribution deal. We made a few more appointments with different sales agents in Japan on the same trip, thinking we should make the most out of the trip.
The meeting with Beams went very well until they asked if we were meeting any other distributors in Japan. Our appointments with other distributors has eventually made them unable to take us on board, as the common practice in Japan was that you are supposed to only meet with the company who invited you to come over. This was something that we learned after this experience.
Anyhow, we got picked up by another distributor that got our collection into Isetan Department Store in Japan.
WHAT DOES ‘AUSTRALIAN’ FASHION & STYLE MEAN TO YOU?
Australian Fashion & Style is all about not making a big statement, but at the same time showing individuality. We think that there are two main styles in Australia, one that is very clean, modern, elegant with architectural touch, while the other one is more carefree, art-sy streetwear.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR INJURY? ANY EXCITING PROJECTS ON THE HORIZON?
INJURY has been invited to exhibit at Shenzhen Design Society, Eugene created a 12-minutes ambient music track ‘Every Tiny Bit’ to exhibit together with Groundwork architect and Folo Studio for an immersive gigantic inflatable art ‘Soft Space’ Exhibition’ until April 2020.
For our fashion line, we are now more focused on creating store-specific capsule collections that promote slow fashion, we have recently created two sustainable collections for ANMO Art Gallery in Dusseldorf, Germany and planning on the next collection.
For a curation and creative direction project, we are now curating and creative directing ‘Heart of Cyberpunk’ fashion festival that we created, it is organised by Hong Kong Design Centre and funded by Tourism Board Hong Kong as a creative tourism Project. We have invited creatives from Sydney, Melbourne, London, and Hong Kong to join forces and work together for some very exciting event, videos and photos that will be happening later this year.
YOUR GLOBAL TEXTILE & FASHION GO-TO’S?
These are our go-to websites for daily inspirations!