The 63-year-old Nan Fung textile factory is being revitalized as The Mills. Photo: Asia Times
The 63-year-old Nan Fung textile factory is being revitalized as The Mills. Photo: Asia Times

A grand opening is planned early next year for a 63-year-old textile factory in Tsuen Wan – the former Nan Fung factory, which is being converted into an innovation and cultural hub to serve startups and host cultural exhibits about the apparel sector in Hong Kong.

The Mills heritage conservation project will have 40,000 square feet of exhibition space and a 50,000-square-foot incubation center, Cherry Chan, the person-in-charge (PIC), told Asia Times in an interview.

Cherry Chan, who heads The Mills conservation project. Photo: Asia Times

The exhibition space, which aims to promote the culture and history of Hong Kong’s apparel industry, will operate under MILL6 Foundation, a non-profit arts and cultural institution and a registered charity in Hong Kong, Chan said.  

The incubation center will be operated under a social enterprise – The Mills Fabrica – and is aimed at supporting young entrepreneurs, rather than making a profit, she said. It wants to attract startups engaged in material science, wearable and circular production businesses. 

The Mills will become a cultural and innovative hub for Hong Kong’s apparel industry. Photo: The Mills

The project, which will cost some HK$700 million (US$89.5 million), excluding the land premium to convert the factory site into a commercial site, will also include 100,000 square feet of retail space, namely The Mills Shopfloor, to generate current income, she said.

Another 70,000 square feet of gross-floor-area in The Mills will be used as public space, she said.

The old Nan Fung textile factory. Photo: The Mills

Chan said Nan Fung Group, owner of The Mills, is still negotiating the land premium with the government.

In 2014, Nan Fung Group announced its plan to revitalize the Nan Fung textile factory, established by Ningbo businessman Chen Din-hwa in 1954, into The Mills. Construction work kicked off the following year and will be completed next year.

Vanessa Cheung, Chen’s granddaughter, is the founder of The Mills. 

DBS BusinessClass Apparel Disrupt

【共同創造新生態 顛覆時裝紡織界】今日嘅香港,傳統工業逐漸式微,昔日興盛嘅成衣業亦被視為夕陽行業,要將夕陽變朝陽,需要業界唔同伙伴支持同推動,今次DBS BusinessClass特別邀請咗由紡織起家的南豐紗廠The Mills嘅創辦人張添琳小姐分享佢對呢行嘅睇法。想知更多關於活化項目同新生態圈嘅發展,快啲Click入以下呢條link 報名參加7月25日嘅成衣業創新科技活動喇!座位有限,報名從速!活動將以廣東話進行,並須受有關條款及細則約束。Traditional apparel industry is becoming a sunset industry. It needs a joint effort from all market players to revitalize it. DBS BusinessClass invites Ms. Vanessa Cheung, founder of The Mills, to share her views on the apparel industry in this video. If you would love to know more about the revitalization project and the development of a new ecosystem, don’t miss the chance to join DBS BusinessClass Apparel Disrupt on 25th July 2017. Seats are limited and secure yours now! event will be conducted in Cantonese, and it is subject to the Terms and Conditions.

Posted by DBS BusinessClass on Thursday, 13 July 2017

Cheung wants to commemorate the glorious time of Hong Kong’s textile industry through The Mills heritage conservation project, Chan said. “The textile industry will not disappear as people need to wear clothes. What the industry needs is an evolution.”

Chan said the heritage conservation project would help preserve Hong Kong’s history. 

Last month, Chan attended the DBS BusinessClass Apparel Disrupt event, which was organized by the Singapore-based DBS Bank, and shared her views on the apparel industry to the audience. DBS BusinessClass, launched in October 2014, is a program delivered through a mobile app, which aims to help startups and SMEs seek business advice and opportunities.

Textile workers work in the Nan Fung textile factory in the 1960s. Photo: The Mills