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[Video Available NOW] Dean's Distinguished Industry Lecture Series | Troubled Times: Opportunities for the Bold & Determined
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The second lecture of the Dean’s Distinguished Industry Lecture Series was given on 25 November by ITC and a close associate of PolyU - Dr Henry Tan, BBS, JP, LHD. Dr Tan is Chairman of the Textile Council of Hong Kong; CEO of Luen Thai Group Ltd.; Court Member of PolyU; and former member of the Advisory Committee of ITC. His session entitled, “Troubled Times: Opportunities for the Bold & Determined” provided an overview on where opportunities for the textile and fashion industry can be found during the current unprecedented times. The talk was offered in a hybrid live format. Nearly 120 staff, students and alumni either attended in person in the ITC 4D Theatre, streamed the session on Zoom or watched on the ITC Youtube channel.


(from left) Dr Tracy Mok, Ms Connie Hui, Mr Kenny Wong, Dr Henry Tan, Prof. Jintu Fan, Dr Chester To and Dr Chris Lo

In his opening introduction, Prof. Jintu Fan remarked, “Today, we are extremely honored and grateful to have Dr Henry Tan with us. As the Chairman of the Textile Council, I would say no one is in a better position to deliver this talk and to help our students and colleagues to broaden their perspectives about the development of the textile and fashion industry, and how we can equip ourselves better for all future eventualities.”

Certificate of Appreciate presented by Prof. Raymond Wong, Intrim Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science and Textiles

Souvenir presented by Prof. Jintu Fan, Head and Chair Professor of ITC

 

While the textile and fashion industry is facing a difficult time due to the pandemic, Dr Tan believes that challenges also represent opportunities. He suggested that Hong Kong has many assets that can help to expand the textile and garment industry, such as its unique cultural and historical background, role as the world’s textile garment supply chain management center, pioneer position in textile and fashion related research, and strong support from the government. Dr Tan emphasised that “This (the textile and fashion industry) is not a sunset industry. When there is novelty, many opportunities can be created. Our commercialization is not the best yet so we should try to do better, and utilize all the new ideas and products that are available.”

Dr Tan also pointed out several opportunities available in the expanding market of China and Southeast Asia, including the Belt and Road Initiative, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area, and China’s dual circulation economic strategy. Such policies would further connect Hong Kong with the world and generate a wealth of possibilities for Hong Kong to commercialize its innovative research results. Also, as the Chinese government is striving to reach the lower tier cities, Dr Tan also encouraged students not only to look towards the large cities, but also different tier cities when exploring opportunities in the industry, “You are young and can take a lot of risks. You should explore the world, whether it is a developed or emerging economy.”

Compared to previous years, the consumption ability of China online has shown palpable growth. During the Spring Festival Golden Week of 2021, the sales of key retail and catering companies across the country reached 821 billion yuan, which is an increase of 28.7% over Spring Festival Golden Week 2020 and 4.9% over Spring Festival Golden Week 2019. Dr Tan proposed that these statistics show that China has recovered from COVID-19 and Hong Kong should take advantage of their growing consumption needs.


Dr Tan answered questions from the floor and Zoom meeting room

Apart from retail and catering, there are also other opportunities in the Chinese e-commerce market. In 2019, over 30% of the Chinese GDP was in the digital economy and it is predicted to be over 50% in 2021. E-commerce has proven to be more adaptable than physical stores during the pandemic, and Dr Tan sees a bright future: “The changes in distribution can create opportunity since shopping in a physical store is no longer the only viable option. I also believe that there will soon be cross border e-commerce which will become more and more important in the years to come.” Meanwhile, the establishment of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has also allowed Hong Kong to “connect and trade throughout the region without duty, tariff and custom concerns, so that it is much more efficient and facilitates international e-commerce.”

Dr Tan concluded that Hong Kong’s textile and fashion industry can make use of China and ASEAN countries for further advancements. He pointed out that Hong Kong has always had the advantages of researching and developing new materials, yet Hong Kong also needs to develop new business models to help commercialize itself in the global market. He reiterated that the fashion and textile industry “is not a sunset industry…our future is boundless but we just come together to make things work.”

 

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