4 Sept 2008
Fabulous Fasteners(HKTDC Fashion - Fabrics & Accessories, Vol 01,2009)
Nothing beats a good strong zipper for safety and security, which is why they are best sellers all around the world
They may be commonplace accessories but zippers demand the same commitment to quality and innovation as any other item in the fabrics and accessories catalogue.
The key to success for many Hong Kong zipper manufacturers is perfecting customers' designs, providing innovative in-house research and development, delivering on time and remaining cost-effective.
Hang Sang Zipper Co Ltd is one such Hong Kong company that realised long ago that innovation is vital when it comes to producing fashion-oriented zips.
The company's specialities include ultra-fine special zippers and coloured zip accessories, with the one- and two-way zippers available in trendy bright or fashionably muted colours.
"We make them in plastic, polyester and metal - our biggest seller is the metal version," explains Manager Edward Hung. "Our biggest asset is our capability to develop and design different components, such as pullers, on our own premises."
Hang Sang has an in-house laboratory and an independent QC team supervising all testing to ensure it complies with international standards and meets customers' demands for speedy order fulfilment.
The zipper teeth are made in antique silver, pewter, aluminium and other finishes to match or contrast with the supporting tape, Mr Hung explains.
"Mostly, we produce zippers according to customers' specifications, and some of the orders come indirectly from top fashion designers," he claims.
He reveals that Hang Sang is also working on new trends, "not in the zippers themselves, but we are working on new innovations in pullers in our labs right now."
That's also the focus for Albert Zips HK Ltd, which was established in Belgium and now has offices and factories in several locations around the world.
"We use polyester, and aluminium from China or Turkey depending upon customers' budgets," spokeswoman Reese Kwok says, adding that the company also uses brass, POM and zinc alloy for the sliders and pullers.
Albert Zips produces "top quality" zippers in its four factories, she says, adding "we also make related components, using materials sourced mainly from Europe, China and Taiwan."
The company manufactures a variety of stylish sliders and links in colour finishes of gold, bronze, silver, antique and brass, along with completed zips in different colours. "We make them in many versions, including invisible closures with lace tape for fragile garments or knitwear," Ms Kwok notes.
Many of the zippers are water-repellent, in line with demands from customers in different climates. "We manufacture to customer specifications and are very flexible and creative as we number many world-famous fashion designers among our customers, including Esprit, Sonia Rykiel and Paul Smith," Ms Kwok claims.
She says Albert Zips works to "very high" standards. "Strong or fine, the zippers are created to meet a variety of uses and are always made as perfectly as possible," Ms Kwok maintains.
Fashion dictates much of the design focus for zipper producers, and D & D Zipper Trading Ltd's flagship products lie firmly in the fancy garment category.
Trendy and decorative, they are designed with polished golden brass teeth and satin tape, while the pullers may be heart-shaped or made to customer specifications.
One of D & D's most popular items has rhinestone elements with red, green and fancy rainbow-coloured teeth, while the company's closed-end waterproof zippers are also highly sought after. "All our materials are sourced in China," says manager Chong Suk Wai.
U.C. Co Ltd also sees the puller as the key component for zipper manufacturers. "Without it you cannot operate the zipper," Sales Executive Stanley Kwok states. "It is also the main element offering opportunity for innovation."
He says U.C. Co is producing nylon zippers with plated teeth in different colours - golden, silver and rainbow-hued. "But it's the design of the puller that marks the difference in zipper product development," Mr Kwok adds.
Like many progressive manufacturers in Hong Kong, U.C. has a 15-strong, in-house design team and an in-house mould development department for pullers and small accessories such as buckles for garments.
"We work to keep to very high standards," Mr Kwok insists. "We're always on the lookout for new ideas and new trends - even in other accessories such as buckles."
Meanwhile, New Kowloon Zipper Co Ltd acquires its raw materials of alloy and brass from China. "Our thin or double-shaped zippers have teeth in a range of finishes from shiny nickel to golden coloured," says Marketing Manager Branda Tong. "The zippers are made with EU-style or top-and-bottom stoppers."
When it comes to satisfying the most exacting requirements of the garment trade, it seems Hong Kong zipper producers have the edge trade - and the sales to prove it.
TEXT BY MAGGIE BEALE