Bangkok Fashion City to hit runway again

Bangkok Fashion City to hit runway again

Project budget slashed in light of past failures

The Bangkok Fashion City project begun by ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's government is making a return, but with a much smaller budget of 160 million baht, says a senior Industry Ministry official.

Models display creations of leading designers at the 2005 launch of Bangkok Fashion City.

Project manager Virit Viseshsindh said the budget was cut on purpose to avoid the mistakes of the original project, which started in 2003 as a bid to establish Bangkok as a world fashion leader on the level of New York, Paris and Milan. The 1.8-billion-baht project was scrapped in 2006.

Mr Virit said the budget was too high for such a short period, and Bangkok Fashion City was the first real fashion project the country ever committed itself to.

The idea of reviving the project emerged in mid-2012, but it was not incorporated in the Industrial Promotion Department's policies until this year.

"We learned our lesson back then, which was pretty much like flushing money down the toilet," Mr Virit said.

"We will start out with a small budget and see if we can make it successful."

The planned fashion shows and contests sound similar to previous activities, but Mr Virit says they are different.

Contests, for instance, will attract people to the industry, while fashion shows will grab the attention of foreign media.

"All Asean members hold fashion shows on a regular basis except Thailand and Cambodia," Mr Virit said. "In Thailand most are organised by shopping malls, and some are showcases for experienced designers."

The new project involves related industries such as leather and jewellery.

It also aims to develop 2,200 designers and highlight four fashion business venues: Siam Square, Pratunam, Bobae and Chatuchak.

But Chanin Jitkomut, president of the Thai Footwear Association, sees the new budget as too low, reasoning that the previous enormous budget failed because of misdirected spending.

"To be a fashion city is not about holding fashion shows or having the longest catwalk but developing products and people," he said. "The first thing to do is change mindsets. The government does not understand fashion."

Bangkok Fashion City is one the Industrial Promotion Department's five main projects for small and medium-sized enterprises this year, in line with the goal of raising SMEs' share of the economy.

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