1 March 2004
Buttons(HKTDC Fashion - Fabrics & Accessories, Vol 01,2004)
Vol 1, 2004
Bigger And Better
D & G Industrial Co Ltd's buttons and snaps are made using materials such as brass, stainless steel, alloy, iron and aluminium
Traditionally a labour-intensive field, the production of buttons is shifting more towards the use of sophisticated machines as manufacturers strive to dazzle the market with elaborate designs and exciting new materials.
"It's easier to control operations when relying on machines rather than people," says D & G Industrial Co Ltd manager Wendy Chiu. To date, this 16-year-old company has installed two new machines at its mainland Dongguan factory that also employs 500 workers.
Apart from the Dongguan plant, D & G has mainland offices in Shenzhen, Shanghai, Nanjing and Xiamen, and offices in Hong Kong.
When it comes to design, this manufacturer of jeans' buttons and rivets, snap fasteners, snap buttons, buckles, dress hooks and eyelets puts the emphasis on colour. The upcoming months will see rusty colours, primarily deep browns and reds, coming off the assembly line. "More machines also means our colours can be improved and we can create more variety," says Chiu.
The company is ISO 9002-certified (since 1999), and Chiu believes product variety - on average 20 new designs are created daily - will keep D & G ahead of the game. "We have a vision," she says.
Brass and alloy are the main raw materials, usually from Japan, Korea and Australia. The minimum order size is negotiable, while delivery time is nominally 12 days after confirmation of order.
Another button maker believing its competitive advantage comes from choosing not to focus solely on OEM designs is 24-year-old Winget CYC Industrial Ltd. According to departmental assistant Karen Chan, the drive now is to create more own designs.
"In general, we are making larger buttons and accessories," says Chan, adding that an average button size is now 54L. "Just a few months ago, most of our designs were 24L or 32L." Metal and polyester buttons in blue or red are popular sellers.
At the end of 2002, Winget moved from Shantou to a larger site in Shenzhen, both on the Chinese mainland. "When we moved to the new factory we also ordered 50-100 new machines," says Chan. As a result, the plant's 500 machines equals the number of workers. Chan also estimates production at the new factory will increase 5% by year-end, up from the existing total monthly production of 10 million gross.
The minimum order for Winget depends on the design and size, and delivery time to main markets like the US, Europe, Australia and Japan is 2-3 weeks after confirmation of order.
In a different approach, eight-year-old New Century Buttons Mfg Ltd puts the emphasis on different materials. In May, for example, this manufacturer of buttons, cord locks and stoppers combined rubber with nylon. "I think there are only a few companies in Hong Kong that have done this," says marketing manager Elkai Lau.
Early in 2004, New Century intends introducing titanium. "Titanium is used in a lot of other products on the market and we want to use it for buttons," says Lau. The titanium buttons will be targeted at the US market initially, followed by the mainland.
New Century turns to Korea, Taiwan and the mainland - where it has a network of more than 100 suppliers - to source unusual raw materials. "Obtaining many different materials has never been a problem for us," says Lau.
Most of the production at its ISO 9002-certified, 20,000-square-foot Dongguan factory employing 150 people is OEM designs. However, New Century intends to focus on a line of vintage-look buttons with an antique silver finish. Designs will also gradually increase in size.
A maker claiming to "have the advantage of elegance" is Hon Lung Button Mfg Ltd. According to marketing assistant Alexis Hung, design is the focus for this six-year-old manufacturer of buttons and buckles.
A heart-shaped wooden button is just one example of Hon Lung's elegant design work, primarily the creations of the company's managing director who has more than 20 years' experience in garment accessories.
In line with most other manufacturers, Hon Lung intends to make larger buttons. Automation will also play a more important role. "For example, now the entire printing process for a monthly production of 900,000 gross at our mainland Chao Yang factory is done by machine," says Hung. "Hand printing is not very stable."
Regarding raw materials, Hon Lung opts for a more mainstream approach and focuses on polyester and, to a lesser extent, wood. A minimum order is 20 gross per size, for delivery to major markets in Europe, Asia and the US one week after confirmation of order. "We can also do rush deliveries," says Hung.
Clearly it's time to button up with some of these great creations from Hong Kong.
WRITTEN BY TAMARA CHEUNG
D & G Industrial Co Ltd
Unit C, 19/F
Mei Luen Ind Bldg
23-31 Kung Yip St
Kwai Chung, New Territories
Luk's Brothers Metal Button Fty & Co Ltd
Wing Ming Ind Centre
15 Cheung Yue St
Cheung Sha Wan, Kowloon
Mexwell Industrial Ltd
5/F, Blk E, Phase 2
Kwai Shing Ind Bldg
42-46 Tai Lin Pai Rd
Kwai Chung, New Territories
New Century Buttons Mfg Ltd
Flat D, 6/F
21 Hung To Rd
Kwun Tong, Kowloon
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