5 Oct 2005
A Friendly Future(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 10,2005)
Tiffany Int'l Trading Co
Fully aware of this trend, Tiffany Int'l Trading Co general manager Gladnix Chan says, "Almost all of our woven fabrics - made from cotton, linen, ramie, Tencel, rayon or Modal, and mixes with polyester, nylon and Lycra - qualify for the Oeko-Tex standard 100 certificate."
An ecological yardstick established by a consortium of leading European textile research institutes, Oeko-Tex currently offers four product classes, each with individual requirements regarding the content of harmful substances and other "human ecology" factors.
"The Oeko-Tex mark is the most widely-used international ecology standard for textile products," Chan explains. "Only manufacturers complying with the strict testing and inspection procedures, who are also able to provide verifiable quality assurance, are allowed to place the Oeko-Tex label on their products. Certification allows the successful manufacturer to apply a label stating the material has been 'Tested for Harmful Substances according to Oeko-Tex standard 100'."
Established in 1988, Tiffany's Hong Kong office is the sales arm for the company's fabricating plant in Guangdong Province on the Chinese mainland.
Tiffany's main business is the dyeing, printing and functional finishing processes of AA-grade grey-state cloth, often using woven fabrics such as Modal - the new "wonder fabric" made from beech wood chips that combines the benefits of natural fibre and the soft feel of modern microforms.
"We also use Tencel, which is made from natural cellulose found in wood pulp," Chan says. "The fibre is economical in its use of natural resources, and is fully biodegradable."
Tiffany anticipates that textiles with no harmful substances will become a general requirement as demand increases. "This is why we take the trouble to import azo-free dyes from Germany," says Chan. "However, the issue is not only the type of dye but the whole course of action, and our management and production teams retain tight control over each step of the dyeing and functional finishing processes."
Tiffany believes its approach provides a strategic advantage over competitors. "Our dedication to quality and human ecology enable us to achieve a better market position," says Chan. "It's not easy being a green-provider, but the demand is there and garment manufacturers have to respond and take the steps necessary to provide eco-friendly apparel."
The textile coatings applied by Tiffany result in functionalities such as temperature regulation, protection from moisture, elasticity and sunlight, and offer benefits for all. "The fabrics are then certified azo-free, anti-bacterial, wrinkle-free, dirt-proof, waterproof and oil-proof," Chan notes. "They are suitable for making outdoor clothing that is both long-lasting and comfortable, and we are seeing increasing demand from end-users for this range of finished materials."
Otherwise, Tiffany strives to keep up with the latest trends to ensure that its fabrics meet buyers' needs. "As consumers become more concerned about health and environmental issues, so eco-friendly fabrics and ready-to-wear garments will make their mark generally as well as in the fashion world," Chan predicts.
Tiffany's ISO 9001-certified, 400-worker, 50,000-square-metre factory is fully equipped with advanced machinery including: mercerizers, a multi-desizing and washing range, a continuous dyeing range and individual sueding, sanforizing and weft straightening machines that are imported from Germany, Japan and the US.
"We have a monthly production run of three million yards," Chan says. "Yarn and fibre are imported from Thailand, Pakistan and the US, with some local purchases from the mainland."
Minimum order is 10,000 yards per three-colour combination/pattern. Delivery depends on whether the fabrics are yarn-dyed, solid-dyed or printed, but goods generally ship out 60 days after order confirmation. "Europe accounts for 60% of our business, with the US taking about 30%. The balance is sold in Hong Kong," Chan says.
Tiffany has also started a new line producing uniforms in an effort to seek new outlets for its materials. "Schools, the medical and sanitary sectors, police forces and hotels are target prospects," Chan reveals. "Wah Yan College Hong Kong, a renowned, 85-year-old school, was the first client for our eco-friendly school uniforms, followed by a primary school, five hospitals, three in the sanitary sector, two police forces and three hotels."
The uniform provided was made of a CVC blended yarn, azo- and wrinkle-free, anti-bacterial and dirt-proof. Prices were approximately HK$50 each for a summer shirt and HK$50 each for a pair of summer shorts.
"Uniforms are always in demand and, if we can prevent textiles from damaging people's health and at the same time protect consumers from harmful substances, then we are on the right path to improving the quality of people's lives," says Chan optimistically. "In the meantime, of course, we also hope to generate more business opportunities for Tiffany."
With personal ecology firmly in mind, Tiffany appears to have a healthy future.
WRITTEN BY SHIRLEY LOK
Tiffany Int'l Trading Co
4/F Gold Swan Commercial Bldg,