31 May 2005
Hats & Caps(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 06,2005)
Proving that if you want to get ahead, get a hat (or a cap), Hong Kong continues to provide full cover for international buyers in the headwear sector. Furthermore, while Hong Kong has talented local designers, they can also quickly adapt to clients submitting exclusive hat and cap designs.
A typical example is Radar Top Ltd, established in 1992. "We produce hats and caps for many big name firms that want to use their own brands. These range from Gap, with its Old Navy brand name, to other big firms and brands such as Bossini and Baleno," claims manager Carol Ham.
"Usually, clients such as these require 100% cotton goods, but canvas is also in wide demand for a hardier product that might be pitted against the elements," she adds.
According to Ham, most hat and cap styles are six-panel assemblies with either an embroidered or printed design depending on requirements. "The final price depends on the materials, the quality and complexity of production," she says. "Our 100% cotton baseball caps, for example, might sell for about US$1 each, FOB Hong Kong, in quantities of 20,000 per style."
However, for minimum order requirements of 3,000 caps per model or style, the unit price is more likely to be about US$2. "The final price is also determined by the country of destination," she says.
In general, raw materials come from the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong. Special requests can be handled through the firm's suppliers in Indonesia, Taiwan and Korea when the quantity is large enough.
Delivery is 21-30 working days after confirmation of order, and major markets are the US and the UK. Manufacturing takes place at a 400-worker factory in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland.
Another firm, Gazelle Enterprises Ltd, is a manufacturer of a wide range of hats and caps - from inexpensive designs to high quality, cut-and-sewn products. "We produce hats and caps, scarves, gloves, knitted items, bags and fashion accessory items," says manager Apple Tse.
"We have also developed a new cap called Side-Mark, which is a patented design. By being innovative like that we are able to produce for famous names such as Marks & Spencer, Benetton and Disney. Our products go to the US and Europe, especially Germany, Spain and the UK. Other markets include South Africa, Malaysia, the Philippines and Japan."
Gazelle has more than 1,000 workers at its Dongguan and Shanghai factories on the Chinese mainland. The firm obtained ISO 9002 certification in 1994, and in 2000 became the first hat and bag manufacturer to be accredited by Bureau Veritas Quality International's SA 8000 for Social Accountability Standards.
Gazelle's minimum order requirement is 1,000 pieces per style and colour for delivery 30-45 days after receipt of order.
Goldway Mfy Co Ltd, established in 1992, is a producer of medium- to high-end priced goods. "We make mostly baseball caps, fashion hats and sun visors from cotton twill and sometimes canvas, polyester and nylon. Nylon mesh caps are the most popular and buyers want bright colours and metallic shades," says sales manager Sandy Ng.
The company, which has its own embroidering machines and silk-screen print department, also handles various brand names. "We produce on an OEM basis and do not have our own brand because in this business it is too difficult to establish an image, given that well-known companies can sell under their own names so easily," observes Ng.
Accordingly, Goldway produces for Disney, Quiksilver, Roxy, Kappa, Paul Frank, Rip Curl and others. "Prices for OEMs depend on how complicated the logo is and the materials required," she adds.
A minimum order is 1,000 pieces per style, for delivery 30-45 days after sample approval. The firm's 400-worker factory is in Guangdong Province on the Chinese mainland, and major export markets are Australia and Europe, including Italy, Germany and the UK.
Meanwhile, Hatfash Ltd marketing manager Fiona Chung says the 23-year-old firm specialises in ladies' fashion headwear. "We do so in great variety," she adds, "using materials such as sinamay, wool felt and raffia straw. These materials and others allow us to manufacture hats, fascinators, headbands and toques for our discerning international clientele."
In addition to this broad range of headwear, Chung says Hatfash also works closely with clients to exclusively design coordinating casual handbags in straw, felt and fashion forward fabrics.
The company's 1,600-square-metre, 120-worker factory is in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland, where many of the delicate details found on a Hatfash product are finished by hand to enhance the beauty and appeal. "Raw materials come from across Asia, with sinamay from the Philippines, raffia from Madagascar and the more general fabrics and straw braid from the Chinese mainland," says Chung.
Minimum order size is 100 dozen per style for delivery within 45 days of order confirmation. Shipments go to customers in the US, Europe, the UK and the Middle East, as well as Australia and Japan.
It seems that Hong Kong cap and hat manufacturers are determined to stay ahead of the competition with fine designs and competitive prices.
WRITTEN BY TONY HENDERSON
Acclaim Development & Industrial Co Ltd
Goldway Mfy Co Ltd