11 Sept 2006
Buckles(HKTDC Fashion - Fabrics & Accessories, Vol 01,2007)
|Mei Bond Int'l Co makes sea shell and coconut shell buckles using materials sourced from Indonesia, Fiji and Vietnam|
A bright shiny buckle often adds the finishing touch to any garment, shoe or handbag, and is therefore highly sought-after by manufacturers and consumers alike.
This same demanding audience, however, is constantly seeking something different, more exciting and fashionable than traditional metal buckles - and Hong Kong manufacturers are keen to oblige.
They are increasingly catering to buyers looking for non-metallic buckles by offering plastic, nylon and even clasps made of coconut shell, as well as custom-design services.
Take C & K Metal Mfy Ltd, for example, whose brass, alloy, iron and aluminium decorated buckles feature prominently on swimwear, leather goods and jeans.
"Our buckles range in price from US$0.20-3.00 each FOB Hong Kong, with a minimum order of 3,000 decorated and 5,000 plain buckles," marketing manager Cathy Lai explains. "Delivery is 14 days after order confirmation to markets such as the US, Egypt, Poland, Germany and the UK."
C & K's buckles are manufactured at the 21-year-old firm's 1,200-square-metre, 80-worker factory in Weizhou on the Chinese mainland, which is currently being assessed for ISO 9001 certification.
"We also accept special orders and this year we are seeing a lot of interest in 3D designs," Lai notes. "Although these designs are more complicated, we have to answer customer demand."
Taking a slightly different approach, Mei Bond Int'l Co uses only materials that are environmentally-friendly, such as coconut and sea shells and corozo, a nut that grows on palm trees and is sourced from South America.
Sales executive Ceci Wong says these products were originally developed in Japan, but were expensive and had long delivery lead times. "Production was moved to Hong Kong, where competition for these products is low," she explains.
Wong says sourcing the shells is "quite easy" as they come mainly from areas such as Indonesia and Fiji, while the coconuts are shipped from Vietnam. "The farmers take the flesh from the shells and throw them away, so we use the rubbish as our materials," she explains.
However, Wong admits that being environmentally-friendly is not without its drawbacks as demand for coconut buckles is low, while shells are fragile and break easily during production.
"Grade A shells that are thick enough for more elaborate designs are more expensive, and many customers cannot afford them," she reveals. "This in turn means designs are restricted."
Nonetheless, Mei Bond's buckles are being used by trendy shoe, handbag and garment manufacturers, as well as being eagerly snapped up by garment accessory wholesalers.
Customers in the US, Asia and Europe are supplied by the 21-year-old company's 5,000-square-metre, 200-worker factory in Dongguan on the mainland.
Wong says shell buckles cost HK$5 each and up FOB Hong Kong, depending on the type of shell used, while coconut buckles start from HK$1. "We accept order values as low as HK$1,000," she adds, admitting that Mei Bond doesn't accept special orders at present. "But we are a manufacturer, and we must go with the needs of the market."
As the name suggests, Brilliant Metal Button Fty & Co Ltd manufactures metal buckles, but has also extended its product line to include nylon buckles.
However, merchandiser Eva Chu says metal products are still the mainstay of the 15-year-old company's business. "We are not seeing as much demand for the nylon buckles," she admits.
Brass, aluminium and steel from Japan, Korea and Taiwan are used to manufacture Brilliant Metal's buckles, which are produced at a 350-worker mainland factory in Shenzhen.
Brilliant Metal buckles are sold "worldwide" in minimum order value quantities of US$1,500 per shipment, delivered in 14-45 working days depending on the quantity.
Equally convinced of the durability of the metal buckle sector is Multiplex Industries Ltd, which manufactures more than 800 different garment accessory designs.
Merchandiser Ruby Chan says that the nine-year-old company offers customers its own designs and can also accept special orders for client concepts. "About 70% of orders are for our own designs, with client requests making up the remainder," she observes. "Most clients want metal buckles, often decorated with rhinestones or Swarovski crystals."
Multiplex supplies leading US and European fashion companies such as United Colors of Benetton, Victoria's Secret and Sisley from a 500-worker factory on the mainland.
Minimum orders of 500 pieces per item are available at FOB Hong Kong unit prices ranging from US$0.20-10.00 FOB Hong Kong. "We deliver 3-4 weeks after order confirmation," Chan confirms.
Similarly committed to client satisfaction is Honda Button Co Ltd, which accepts special orders from clients in Vietnam, Thailand, the US and the UK.
"Most of our buckle business is customer designs," admits sales manager Rayman Wong. "They are commonly used for belt buckles, with customers often requesting their company logo be used on the buckle."
The 20-year-old company uses metal and polyester from the mainland in its buckles, which are manufactured at a 1,000-worker factory on the mainland.
"FOB Hong Kong unit prices range from US$1-20 for minimum orders of 50 dozen buckles delivered 10 days after order confirmation," Wong adds.
Which just shows that buyers seeking clever clasps should check out the army of eager manufacturers in Hong Kong.
WRITTEN BY SHANE ABRAHAMS
Multiplex Industries Ltd
Rm 14, 6/F, Blk C
Hong Kong Ind Centre
489-491 Castle Peak Rd
Lai Chi Kok, Kowloon