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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs                  9  September 2011

Bangkok becoming fashion center

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Bangkok is becoming a leading venue attracting global fashion brands, stimulated by increasing affluence of local consumers and rising foreign tourist arrivals, while the traditional role of regional markets such as Singapore and Hong Kong has diminished.

Larry Meyer of Forever 21 says local affluence and more tourists are attracting the labels.

After the political unrest of the past few years, the capital has witnessed a parade of the world's most popular brands here, be it Zara, Gap, Breshka, Forever 21 Inc and Uniqlo, the world's fourth-largest brand that opened its flagship store on the second floor of CentralWorld today.

Other brands that plan local debuts include H&M of Sweden, Givenchy, Alexander Wang and Lanvin, as the retail business is burgeoning, with the growth rate more than doubling this year. Fashion brands might also expect even greater purchasing power once the Asean Economic Community takes effect in 2015.

New malls will beckon the newcomers.

"Bangkok has a global market for fashion now the same way it used to be in Singapore and Hong Kong," said Chalit Limmpanavech, a marketing specialist and director of the Thailand Management Association.

Executives at Central Pattana Plc, the operator of Central shopping complexes and The Mall Group, the operator of The Emporium and Siam Paragon, agreed there are long waiting lists of international fashion brands wanting to rent space.

"Thailand has huge market potential because there are so many young people interested in trends. It is a strategically important country in Uniqlo's quest to become the leading apparel brand in Asia," said Tadashi Yanai, CEO of Uniqlo, during his visit to Bangkok yesterday.

Uniqlo plans to open its second branch in CentralPlaza Lardprao in October and a third at Central Rama IX in November, with a fourth early next year. It hopes to have 100 Uniqlo outlets here by 2020.

The CentralWorld branch is 2,750 square metres, its largest in Southeast Asia. It offers 500 items for babies, children and teens created in conjunction with the renowned designer Jil Sander.

Forever 21 Inc, the American fashion brand, just opened its second branch of XXI Forever on the ground floor at CentralPlaza Lardprao.

"Though there is an economic recession in many parts of the world, the business of Forever 21 was not impacted. Even so, the recession is only a cycle. Our job is to offer affordable products by maintaining low overhead costs and offering a low margin," said Larry Meyer, an executive vice-president of the company.



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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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