31 Aug 2007
Age-Old Accessories(HKTDC Fashion - Fabrics & Accessories, Vol 01,2008)
|Recent button designs from Kai Yat Mfg Co Ltd feature fancy plastic buttons with metal eyelets and crystal stones|
They may have been around since the Bronze Age, but buttons are still an indispensable accessory for all kinds of garments
The button has evolved into an essential fastener for clothes, but Hong Kong manufacturers of garment accessories have not overlooked its potential as a fashion item.
For example, 1991-established Brilliant Metal Button Fty & Co Ltd is creating new and exciting metal garment accessories. "We are developing some ODM styles especially for Hong Kong Fashion Week in January 2008," reveals merchandiser Carmen Chan.
"We will have buttons in shiny fabrics with brass parts and cut-through styles, and are also developing aluminium top buttons and mesh snaps in brass using photo and film production methods."
Traditional, round eyelets are also undergoing a makeover. "We are developing eyelets in different shapes like a square, frog, flower or horse," she says, adding that the firm can also print onto PVC buttons.
Brilliant Metal has two factories - in Hong Kong and Dongguan on the Chinese mainland - that turn brass, steel, zinc alloy and aluminium sourced from Japan, Korea and Taiwan into metal, snap and jeans buttons, rivets and buckles, as well as cufflinks, pins and key chains.
"All the advanced equipment work such as laser marking, CNC and wire cutting, is done in the Hong Kong factory to ensure quality, and the labour-intensive jobs such as sampling are done at our China factory," Chan adds.
The firm's OEM customers include clothing and jeans firms in Hong Kong, the US, the UK and Europe (especially Germany) as well as garment factories in Pakistan and Egypt.
The FOB Hong Kong price of popular 18mm zinc alloy jeans buttons is US$8.45 per gross, while 17mm brass jeans buttons cost US$3.06 per gross and S-spring 17mm brass snap buttons US$4.06 per gross for minimum order values of US$1,500 per shipment, delivered in 14-45 working days.
Kai Yat Mfg Co Ltd is another OEM producer that specialises in making attractive buttons, as well as hangers, zippers and draw cords, for fashion and garment manufacturers in the US, Europe, India, Pakistan and Asia.
Established in 1988, Kai Yat operates an 80,000-square-foot factory in Shenzhen on the mainland, where 500 workers can produce up to 30,000 gross of buttons a day.
German and Italian technology is employed to refine the shaping, drilling, dyeing and finishing steps, explains manager Ivy Li. "Our assemble-to-order process also allows more flexibility as production lead time is shortened," she says, adding that delivery time is 2-3 weeks.
Big sellers include 11.5mm imitation pearl buttons for men's shirts priced at HK$5.50 per gross, while imitation horn buttons used in men's trousers and jackets cost HK$13.50 per gross for a 17mm button and HK$8.50 per gross for the 11.5mm size.
Another popular seller, brass shank 17mm jeans buttons are HK$29 per gross, while fancier styles such as rivets set with a Swarovski crystal cost HK$60 per gross.
Plastic crystal buttons are also available as a cheaper alternative, priced for example at HK$25 per gross for 18.5mm buttons for minimum order quantities of 100 gross.
The intricate, handmade buttons of Man Cheong (Chong's) Development & Trading Co have earned the company "lots of customers from countries all over the world, including Hong Kong, France, the US, Australia and Canada," claims merchandiser Sandra Ho.
"Our buttons are not just made from plastic or stamping, they are complicated styles made of yarn, fabric, mixed fabric, crochet, trimming and thread."
Complex designs such as silk cufflinks, featuring Chinese knots in various cufflink styles, have proved popular for women's blouses. "Customers can choose a huge variety of colours from our colour chart, and we can also mix customised colours for an extra dyeing charge," Ho explains.
Among the 1,000 button designs in Man Cheong's catalogue are beaded buttons in large and small versions, hook-and-eye fasteners and elaborate, covered buttons.
Prices ex-factory range between US$0.10-1.00 per button (or pair) for all styles in the collection. "We have a very fast turnaround time for sampling and delivery can be made in 2-3 weeks," Ho says. "In some cases we have delivered in seven days, because we have the capability to push production."
Orders undergo quality control checks during production at the firm's 1,000-worker factory in Fujian Province on the mainland, and in Hong Kong prior to delivery.
"Our factory has a high reputation for quality products and punctual delivery - we have very few complaints," claims Ho, adding that Man Cheong is the OEM for many of the buttons advertised for sale by Hong Kong firms.
No minimum order size is required but the company has recently introduced a sample set-up fee of US$15/style. "If a customer wants 10 pieces, for example, then he will have to pay US$5 on top of the US$15 set-up charge," explains Ho.
It seems the sky is the limit when it comes to the variety, quality and quantity on offer from Hong Kong's button manufacturers, whose creations add that little bit of extra style to today's fashions.
TEXT BY HELEN WONG
Man Cheong (Chong's) Development & Trading Co
Tai Lee Mansion
165-167 Pei Ho St
Sham Shui Po, Kowloon