Reed Travel Features
RICHMOND, Va. -- With the impending transition of Hong Kong to
mainland Chinese rule in July, one question has the world holding
its collective breath: Will hemlines go up or down?
Of course, there are more serious questions to be pondered, but
the above query might be on the minds of clients traveling on an
Asian haute couture tour offered by Richmond-based Fashion
To Pam Sexton, Fashion Perspective Tours' owner, Hong Kong's
frenetic fashion scene until recently was like an unpolished gem,
outshone by the higher-profile markets of Italy and France.
"Originally, I thought Europe was my whole focus," Sexton said,
"but then all of a sudden it dawned on me -- Hong Kong; that's
fashion if ever there was fashion."
This moment of clarity led Sexton to package a series of tours
to Hong Kong, mainland China and Indonesia that can be combined or
The longest tour visits China from May 10 to 20. From there the
itinerary visits Hong Kong from May 20 to 27 and the Indonesian
islands of Bali, Java and Sulawesi on May 27 with a flexible return
Sexton said this is the first foray into China for her small
firm, which typically runs four trips per year (two in spring, two
in fall) to European cities such as London, Rome and Paris. To get
business, she frequently networks through organizations such as
Junior Leagues and universities.
"[We are] a company that is 3 years old and will continue to add
destinations as [we] grow," Sexton said, "but I don't want to grow
too fast, so I'm not personally on top of what we're doing. I take
you places that you wouldn't think of going or don't have access
These places include out-of-the-way textile plants, small retail
shops and purveyors of haute couture.
Highlights include the Embroidery Research Institute in Suzhou,
outside Shanghai, and Hong Kong's Young Designers' Gallery, where
students who design apparel sell their wares.
The Asia Fashion Perspective tour begins in Beijing, where the
group will see the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and the Temple of
The next stop is Shanghai, with a visit the riverside Bund
district and the Jade Buddha Temple slated.
In Suzhou, the tour travels to the Embroidery Research Institute
and a silk spinning factory, and in Xian it visits the Terra-Cotta
Warriors and Horses excavation.
The mainland China portion of the trip ends with a cruise on the
In the shopping mecca of Hong Kong, the fashion portion of the
tour kicks into high gear, with highlights including trips to the
Young Designers' Gallery, Hong Kong Polytechnic School of Design
and the Institute of Textiles & Clothing.
Also on the excursion list are visits to Chinese department
stores and specialty markets, with optional day trips traveling to
Canton, Macau and the beaches of Lantau Island.
The community of Ubud, with its bounty of crafts, textiles and
assorted art mediums, seems to be the prime draw of the Indonesian
portion of the journey.
The tour also travels to the Balinese town of Kuta, famous for
its markets and beaches, the Javanese city of Yogyakarta, where
batik design classes are offered, and the relatively untraveled
island of Sulawesi.
As stand-alone tours, the cost of each component is $3,500 per
person, double, for the 10-day China tour; $2,050 for Hong Kong;
$2,700 for two weeks in Indonesia, and $3,200 for three weeks (one
week in Bali, one week in Java and one week in Sulawesi).
Clients originating on the West Coast can deduct about $175 from
the tour price.
The cost of the tour includes roundtrip air, accommodations,
breakfast, a half-day city tour and one-on-one appointments with
fashion industry people. The price does not include lunch, dinner
Depending on the country, the cost of public transportation
sometimes is included.
Optional add-ons are available to other cities in the region,
and accommodations are in three-star hotels -- at least on
"I always advertise three-star hotels, but my travel agent is so
good she gets me four-star hotels and three-star prices," she
According to Sexton, her fashion tours aren't for the soft or
people who like to complain.
"It's not a babysitting tour, and it's not for the elderly if
they're not in good shape," she said. "We walk and take public
transportation, but people get to do things with me that they
wouldn't get to do on a 'regular' package tour. The whole point is
not to spend mega-bucks, and our focus is on haute couture
designers and costume collections."
Sexton said that the typical group size is about 20, with a
limit of 44 participants (who are split into two groups).
Although the tour has a focus on fashion, Sexton said she gets
participants who want to experience the cultural offerings of a
destination at a bargain-basement price rather than merely running
from store to store looking for deals.
"On my trips, I do have people who don't give a hoot about
fashion but just come because the price is right, and that doesn't
bother me in the least," she said. "I [don't run] shopping trips,
per se. I like to think of myself on a more intellectual level, but
it doesn't mean we don't shop."
Sexton said that she is very "user-friendly" with travel agents
and works out a very low net price with them instead of offering
For details or to book, contact Fashion Perspective Tours at
(804) 285-3911; fax (804) 644-3155.