29 Aug 2007
Fabrics(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 09,2007)
|Tiffany Int'l Trading Co enjoys good demand worldwide for its range of contaminant-free fabrics and garments|
Sold worldwide, but especially popular in Europe, Tiffany's fabrics are suitable for items of clothing, especially nurses' uniforms and doctors' scrub jackets, in addition to bedding and household items.
"Stringent regulations are being written to determine the manufacturing of modern fabrics to safeguard health," says general manager Gladnix Chan. "We comply with the existing criteria and will adopt all new measures."
She explains that Tiffany's major concern is with the production of contaminant- and azo-free dyed fabrics. "We work with relevant agencies in Europe that regulate the content of the types of materials that we produce, mostly woven fabrics made from cotton, linen, ramie, Tencel, rayon or Modal, which are combined with polyester, nylon or Lycra."
Azo dyes are commonly used to colour textiles but some dye by-products are toxic and potentially carcinogenic. The European Commission has passed directive 76/769EEC, which bans the use of certain azo dyes from any textile or leather product that may come in "direct or prolonged" contact with the skin or mouth. "Azo dyes and pigments also resist biodegradation under aerobic conditions, and are difficult to remove from an ecosystem," notes Chan.
"Our main business is the dying, printing and finished processing of AA-grade 'grey-state' cloth," she adds. "Both Modal and Tencel have ecologically-important features. Modal is derived from beech wood chips, and is known for its natural and soft, fibrous feel, while Tencel is from natural cellulose found in wood pulp, and lays claims to economical use of natural resources and biodegradable features."
Tiffany imports azo-free dyes from Germany, Japan and the US. "However, it's not just using the proper dye that determines ecological soundness," Chan cautions. "Care has to be taken step-by-step, and the production teams must implement tight management controls."
The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 mark, however, is still the most widely used international standard for ecologically-sound textile products. "Our dyed fabrics meet these criteria, and we offer properly-certified products," Chan assures. "This means that the end producer of any particular item can place the sought-after Oeko-Tex label (stating that the item has been tested for harmful substances according to Oeko-Tex standard 100) on the garment or fabric."
The net result is that Tiffany enjoys a competitive advantage over other producers. "We are fully certified in regards to the validity of our products," says Chan. "These certificates attest to the production processes, quality and environmental soundness of our range."
This gives Tiffany access to markets denied to others. "There is great concern, especially in Europe, about the content of various finished fabrics, and being a 'green provider' puts us in a special position in a specialised market," insists Chan.
She also mentions specific apparel demand from organisations such as the police. "We supply a uniform made from CVC-blended yarn that is azo-free, wrinkle-free and dirt-proof."
In the same vein, Tiffany has started to produce a new line of goods for the medical sector - especially using non-woven fabrics - for use in hospitals, clothing for medical workers, such as gowns, hats and masks, and shoe covers and gloves. "The line also includes items for sanitary workers and cleaners."
This range includes nurses' uniforms and doctors' scrub top jackets. They come with front crossover tops and contrasting trim around the neck, four pockets at the hips, and in a 71cm-standard length. "Our face masks tie around the ears so the user can easily flip them on or off," says Chan. "We also supply sterilized skin markers with measurement rulers for use on patients during operations."
Chan also believes that, as general consumers become aware of the importance of safe, eco-friendly fabrics, demand for ordinary ready-to-wear garments will also increase. "We intend to introduce apparel suitable for everyday wear, items that are fashionable and trendy," she says.
"We have noted that whereas previously people preferred 100% cotton, now the trend is changing more to 65% polyester/35% cotton, which actually allows the material to breathe better," Chan adds.
The various coatings applied by Tiffany also produces functional fabrics not only ideal for clothing but also able to withstand greater temperature fluctuations, offering better protection against moisture, improved elasticity, and protection from damage caused by direct sunlight.
"Our garments are eminently suitable for outdoors, with long-lasting qualities and greater comfort," says Chan. "We predict ongoing and increasing demand for our range of finished fabrics as end-users clamour for more."
Tiffany's Hong Kong office handles sales for its 400-worker, 50,000-square-metre, ISO 9001-certified fabricating plant in Guangdong Province on the Chinese mainland.
Tiffany Int'l Trading certainly appears comfortable with its eco-friendly approach.
TEXT BY TONY HENDERSON
Tiffany Int'l Trading Co
Unit A, 5/F,
338 Hennessy Rd,
Wanchai, Hong Kong