Fashion season continues with Asia Fashion Exchange 2012, held from 16 to 20 May. AFX comes with 4 events under its umbrella: the 5-day Audi Fashion Festival, trade show and public emporium Blueprint, Asia designer reality competition Audi Star Creation and fashion business conference Asia Fashion Summit. Our second peek into AFX takes a look at Blueprint that will showcase Pre-Spring 2013 collections down the runway in the trade show. Also, we preview the brands that will be setting up shop at the open-to-public Blueprint Emporium, where you can shop the best of rising designers.

Blueprint has gained strong buzz since its inception in 2010, when Asia Fashion Exchange was once mooted. The trade show was meant to live up to the objective of a fashion show: to get managers from stores worldwide to buy the collection and stock it in their shopfronts. Since then, it has been one of Asia’s most representative trade shows in profiling rising designers side-by-side, indeed living up to its umbrella brand’s namesake. There is a sense of newness in Blueprint that cannot be ignored once you traverse each label booth by booth; at times, it is wondrous as to the sheer number of fashion labels coming into the market (more than 120 brands will show this year).

This year, fashion maven Tracy Phillips has been chosen to be the project director for Blueprint. She is most famously known for mooting A Curious Teepee at *SCAPE, before it closed its physical store and moved online. Those within the creative community will also know her for heading creative consultancy Present Purpose. It is a good move to select someone who is familiar with rising designer labels in the region and the world, having stocked some for her multi-label boutique. Already, the move to expand the brand repertoire at the trade shows is paying off well, but so is the focus to have a concurrent fashion show for buyers and media as well as boosting the public Emporium sale event.

Tracy Phillips (left) with Mark Lee

Tracy Phillips (left) with Mark Lee

On the buyers’ list for Blueprint 2012 is international online retailer ASOS as well as Hong Kong’s On Pedder and Lane Crawford teams looking to snap up some labels to add to their roster. Country collectives are also grouping brands to show, such as South Korea which will bring in Men’s Fashion Week 2012 label D.GNAK that impressed with their whimsical Charlie Chaplin-like attitude. Besides all Future Fashion Now brands showing, a strong Singapore showing is set to wow, with stalwarts like sifr, SUNDAYS, Depression, MAE PANG and Sabrina Goh’s Elohim and Light fashion houses. Amongst new showings, buzzed-about labels MILS, Ong Shunmugam, By Invite Only and L’ile Aux Ashby will grace Blueprint’s trade show.

It must be said though that the market for urbanwear in Singapore has been far more successful in the mainstream than in other fashion types, judging by the mix of high-street and urban fashion generally seen in Singaporeans. Thus, it seems apt that urbanwear Barcelona trade show The Brandery will be setting up an Asian trade show at Blueprint. The co-location will see some 20 established and up-and-coming brands, including BAGGU, Feiyue, FEMMEX, Flesh Imp and N.Tyler.

Blueprint will also showcase selected brands in Cruise 2013 shows, which differ from Audi Fashion Festival’s Fall/Winter 2012 shows. By keeping the focus on the closed-door fashion shows for media and buyers to follow the current fashion cycle, the divide makes sense and is probably one of the best ways forward of how fashion should move into rather than just descending into a heap of chaos trying to design six months early for the wrong audience. Expect the editors to turn out in droves when labels such as UK’s Oswald Helgason and Singapore’s Possi-tilly-ty walk the runways. A show where editors do not have to contend with the public? We are sure magazine scribes are gloating in their seats as we speak.

That is no means for the public to be up in arms over, as the Blueprint Emporium opens from 19-20 May with a selection of most brands at the tradeshow plus new ones to buy from. Multi-label boutiques are all the rage now retail-wise with their added layer of brand curation and are set to make their presence heard at Suntec, including Singapore shopfronts threadbare & squirrel and Curated Editions. Expect labels such as bespoke jeansmith Ober.Blünck.Denim and womenswear label ZAAK to sell and, yes, those urbanwear brands at The Brandery Asia are up for sale as well. A slew of promos and giveaways (first 50 in line each day will win Gruuve Wood headphones) will make this shopping event one to head to.

Touting itself as Asia’s only tradeshow showcasing Cruise lines and one with emerging designers will bode well for Blueprint as it begins to place its foothold on the regional fashion scene. All it needs is more media to recognise its trump cards and buyers to flock to where the buzz is beginning to build. We shall have to wait and see how this year’s showing turns out but Blueprint may very well be the dark horse of the AFX lineup: one that still needs some time to get warmed up to due to its largely insider pandering but a well-crafted, curated and focused trade show that may yield some handsome results down the road.

Visit Blueprint on Facebook here. Admission to Blueprint Emporium on 19-20 May is free, at Suntec Singapore, Level 2, Ballrooms 1-3.