Why I went to Hong Kong to buy fabric

Let me tell you the story of how I ended up here in the first place. I could go way back, about a few months to a year, when it all really started, because I had this obsession with getting myself a silk kimono style dress that I refused to sew for myself (I hate sewing). I don’t know why I had this issue about the dress, but I wanted one badly. I mean, I was going nuts for a kimono dress.

This led me to eBay where I found this seller who made designer inspired copies, in China, but she was based in California. Have I told the kimono dress story before? Dunno. Anyhow, the problem was she used polyester for everything. Cheap polyester. I tried to convince her to use silk, even offered to send it to her myself. I mean, what is the point of custom made if you’re going to use cheap fabric? She said no, that she had problems with that in the past. I tried to convince her that I was different, after all, I knew what I was doing. I could sew, I was getting into manufacturing, I had read Kathleen’s book. No dice.

Well, she ticked me off so much that I vowed to find a way to get my kimono dress custom made in China, one way or the other. By the way, I do not have that dress, I lost interest, I have the attention span of a child.

So, back to the story. Some time later, I actually found someone to fill all my fantasies and make custom clothing for me. After placing a few orders, I asked her about fabrics and she offered to send me swatches. What I expected to receive, literally, was an envelope with small cut pieces of fabric stapled to a card or something. You know, really low budget. What I got was a huge package of headers.


So me, being me, said, ooooh, I need to go to Hong Kong.

Yes, a package of headers is what got me here. What I expected was an area with different fabric showrooms. At best, I thought there would be a couple dozen companies in this area, selling fabric. I expected to only find a few good leads as I expected most to cater to larger manufacturers. When I tried to settle on a time to go, I tried to pick a time during which there would be a trade show. Early October just worked out for me (time-wise) considering my other stuff, I had MAGIC in August, I have to go to NYC later this month and I have 3 young children so my international travel actually involves prayers, moving mountains, putting people under trances to get their cooperation, fairy dust, lots of bribery and crying, begging and screaming. Oh and lots of guilt trips. Heavy on the guilt trips.

After searching the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center’s website, I found Interstoff Asia. Yes! A trade show! Later, random browsing of the Amethyst Handbag Library led me to discover that the APLF Fashion Access show is being held at the same time. Now, this gives credibility to my travel. This way, when people ask, why are you going to HK, I can say “two trade shows” as opposed to “oh, there was this kimono dress and some headers and…”

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  1. Josh says:

    Omg, you so sound like me. When I want something I want it and I gotta have it. I’ve been in search of leather suspenders that are a certain style and can’t find them. I’m thinking of having that leather guy make them for me. I want them brown, feathered edge with brushed metal buckles to adjust them. .75 inch width, Y back. I thought about making them myself but I haven’t a clue where to get stuff to make suspenders.

  2. Grace says:

    OMG, I have to go fabric shopping in Hong Kong.

    Do you think business travel is experienced differently by mothers and fathers?

    What will your home look like when you get back?

    I am a little obsessed with this topic as I am married to a man who travels 30% time; I travel 10% time and we have a young child. With a two career family, we have to run as fast as we can, all the time. If one person is gone, a backlog at home develops. It can take several weeks to work off the backlog of one parent away for one week. So, in our household, we have a perpetual backlog.
    Even astronaut mothers are not immune (read the first blog entry link).

  3. Lisa Bloodgood says:

    When you say “headers,” do you mean like when they have the special order samples of home dec fabric with the ~18 x 18″ squares folded and stapled to the cardboard with the fabric info on it? Because if so, that is really cool that she sent you that. Wow!
    Is it true that it’s really inexpensive to get custom made clothes in HK?

  4. Miracle (MW) says:

    The headers are not as large as 18 x 18, but yes, the concept is the same. There will be photos later.

    Yes, it is really inexpensive to get custom made clothes here. That’s actually the first thing I did when I got here. Since I got here Oct 1, which was a holiday, I took the train to Shenzhen and got some stuff made. I will pick it up Saturday or Sunday. I had 2 coats for myself ($50-70 each), a suit for my cousin ($60), 2 dresses for myself ($30) and the rest are actually (don’t laugh) product samples.

    I don’t sell wholesale so I don’t need sales samples, I need press samples, which can have more variations from the finished product than a sales sample (i.e. it doesn’t need to have the right fit, a press sample can actually be the first fit sample). So what I did was go to the tailor and get them made.

    Probably could have gotten it for less.

    I had initially planned to subsidize my trip by getting “church lady” suits made for my mom and her friends and family, but nixed the idea. But the next time I come, I’m definitely subsidizing my trip by marking up “church lady” suits. I’m not ashamed to say it, they don’t read blogs.


    Yes, business travel is different for mothers than fathers. My mom is actually staying at my home for the week so it probably will look the same. I’m praying that I don’t come back to her imposed redecorating. Men don’t really have to think about travel. They can just go. I had to coordinate schedules, make arrangements, I typed out this six page document for my mom that included everything from directions and a map to the kids school, to the garbage collection days and procedures, to minutae like how and when to turn on the sprinklers. Dads don’t have to do that, they can just go.

  5. kimberly owen says:

    I am green about your trip! How awesome!

    I thought I was alone when stressing out about going to the LA Textile show for 2 days and leaving my 17 month old with my husband. Glad other moms feel the same!

  6. Kay says:

    Please can you tell me where you have your custom clothes made in HK I am looking for some high end evening clothes to be made? thanks

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