Challenge Accepted: Hong Kong’s CENTRESTAGE 2020 Debuted a Transformative Digital Fashion Week Experience for Spring/Summer 2021 Collections

In Behind-the-Scenes, Fashion & Culture, Fashion Events, Fashion Week, Hong Kong by Katharine Shuman

As the global pandemic continues to challenge the usual routines of the fashion industry, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) has redefined what is possible with CENTRESTAGE. Sponsored by Create Hong Kong (CreateHK) of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region*, the fifth edition of HKTDC’s CENTRESTAGE took place September 17-19, 2020 completely online. A showcase of designer labels and fashion brands on 6 virtual runway shows featured over 40 Asian fashion designers that transformed into a “A World of Phygital”, delivering a brand new experience where the physical and digital worlds converge. 

The HKTDC remarked that “these unique showcases drew the attention of fashion lovers and media from around the world,” while their Deputy Executive Director, Benjamin Chau, noted that “the new format enables buyers and fashionistas to view the latest designs anytime, anywhere while helping designers gain broader exposure and foster connections.” Amidst the strain that many designers have felt this year, the CENTRESTAGE 2020 digital debut created a global platform from which these designers can benefit from. 

The Making of CENTRESTAGE 2020


From the outset, it was clear that CENTRESTAGE 2020 capitalized on the potential of digital art and videography as a means of enhancing the runway experience. “Fashion Hong Kong” kicked off the event with the theme of “Space Odyssey,” featuring an array of Hong Kong design units from both New York and London Fashion Week. An added focus on the peripheral visual and audio aspects of the show created a variety of unique environments, catering to the clothing being shown and grounding them in an identifiable context. This augmented the ability for viewers to imagine ways in which they could interact with the pieces, increasing the appeal of styles that might have been overlooked in a traditional environment. 

Each successive runway show, which included “Next in Cheongsam,” “FASHIONALLY #15,” “Taipei in Style,” “Hong Kong en Vogue,” and finalists from the Hong Kong Young Fashion Designers’ Contest (YDC) 2020, continued to emulate these same qualities and manners of presentation, challenging the audience to question any preconceived notions of the bounds that define traditional fashion events. 


Next in Cheongsam Runway Show - CENTRESTAGE

Next in Cheongsam Runway Show – CENTRESTAGE

The series finale showcased up-and-coming designers of YDC 2020 on the evening of September 19, preserving the participants’ well-deserved opportunity to introduce their work to the CENTRESTAGE audience. This year’s YDC host Asha Cuthbert remarked that the move to a virtual runway “has not dampened the enthusiasm of our finalists,” whose eager spirits were clearly expressed in their clothing. From outerwear to accessories, the contestants demonstrated their knowledge of all things fashion through expert combinations of material, shape, and color, striking a balance between convention and invention as a means of defining their own specific vision. 

The overall efforts of each individual involved in these events culminated in a strong determination despite unanticipated circumstances, setting a powerful example of commitment for the fashion industry as a whole. By striving to nurture design both internationally and regionally through highlighting the new collections of local designers on the HKTDC website, CENTRESTAGE 2020 has proven itself to be an innovative advancement for the future of runway shows. The admirable willingness to adapt that was exhibited by each designer resulted in nothing short of worldwide success, allowing creativity to be harnessed and shaped into a form of inspiration during a time in history that can feel dominated by stagnation. 

You can still experience the CENTRESTAGE 2020 runway shows on their website or YouTube channel. This is truly a higher standard in the production of digital fashion shows that fashion weeks around the world will struggle to top in 2021. 

Lead Sponsor of CENTRESTAGE 2020: CREATE HONG KONG of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region 

Disclaimer: The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region provides funding support to the project only, and does not otherwise take part in the project. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in these materials/events (or by members of the project team) are those of the project organizers only and do not reflect the views of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Communications and Creative Industries Branch of the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, Create Hong Kong, the CreateSmart Initiative Secretariat or the CreateSmart Initiative Vetting Committee.

About Katharine Shuman

Katharine is a second semester junior at Kenyon College who is majoring in English and Studio Art, and finds connections to the fashion industry through her jewelry, photography, and quest to uncover sustainable methods of pursuing this expressive art form. Her passion for using her work to better our world as a whole manifests itself in her small business, KJ Creations, where 25% of all proceeds are donated directly to the Surfrider Foundation.

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