Gems and jewelry industry instrumental in Thailand’s push to be a fashion capital

Thailand’s Ministry of Industry has launched its aggressive “Bangkok: Fashion City” project with a series of “mini fashion shows” held at Bangkok’s International Airport, the ministry said in a statement. The fashion shows are just one of several strategies by the government and private sectors to promote Thailand as a fashion capital. The country’s $2.5 billion gems and jewelry industry will be a major player in the $57 million effort.

The fashion shows, held along the departure concourse, are seen as a warm-up activity prior to launching the project, the ministry said. The international airport was selected as the venue for the fashion shows for its openness, as well as for its continuous flow of overseas tourists, the statement said.

The Bangkok: Fashion City project calls for Bangkok to become a regional fashion center by 2005 and a world center by 2012. The government approved more than $45 million for the project and plans to implement the plan by 2005. The private sector added another $12 million.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said the gems and jewelry industry will receive $2.5 million for several projects to be implemented immediately.

One project calls for the Thai Gem & Jewelry Traders Association to begin a training program for current and future jewelry industry workers. Training will focus on jewelry design, gemstone, and diamond cutting skills, as well as the technology used in jewelry manufacturing areas of casting, setting, filing, stamping, welding, plating, and mold making. These areas of production are expected to take a giant leap forward with the use of computers and sophisticated machinery that will be acquired under the new project, the ministry said.

Another major strategy is the development of a Fashion Institute that will focus on jewelry design. Courses will be created to hone the skills of young talented artisans looking to enter the workforce in the gem and jewelry industry.

Shinawatra was quoted as saying that Thai people have good workmanship in fashion products, but they still lack venues to present their achievements. The new project will help companies move into brand building and help of Thai designers to improve their design skills and marketing abilities, he said.

The challenge for the gems and jewelry industry will be to create a way to build Thai brand names and make them popular in the international market in order to increase their export value.

Extensive public relations campaigns to promote Thai-brand fashion products will be launched in Thailand and abroad.