1 Sept 2003
Linen Fabrics(HKTDC Fashion - Fabrics & Accessories, Vol 02,2003)
Vol 2, 2003
This selection of floral print linen and burnt-out sheeting from Easy Way Textile Ltd is linen blended with man-made fibres such as polyester and rayon
Cool and comfortable, and capturing the trend for all things natural, linen is back in fashion. Especially popular are crease-free linen and easy-care blends in textures, colours and prints that will delight even the fussiest of fashion aficionados.
A classic example is Tongtex Ltd, which has 16 years' experience in woven fabrics. Linen accounts for one-third of all business in a production that includes pure linen and blends with cotton, rayon, silk and spandex, as well as ramie, flax and hemp.
With joint ventures and partnerships with dyeing, yarn dyeing and printing facilities in Jiangsu and Guangdong Provinces on the Chinese mainland, Tongtex caters to a growing demand for quality fabrics.
"We sell one million yards each of dyed and yarn-dyed linen and 500,000 yards of printed linen every two months for the spring and summer fashion seasons," says merchandise manager Virginia Tam.
Tam says the cool, natural qualities make linen a popular choice. "Our specially finished wrinkle-free 100% linen is popular, creating a silky feel while retaining its natural look," she explains. "Linen blends with silk, rayon and spandex are now also popular in the US."
Tongtex develops its own colours and fabrication to keep abreast of the fashion industry. "Trends are moving towards romantic candy-coloured pastels, and lots of customers are looking for dobby texture, even for men's shirts," says Tam. "Stretch linen is still popular, but in a lighter mix of 1-2% Lycra."
The US accounts for some 80% of the company's linen exports, with Europe another major market. Prices vary according to product and quantity, and minimum orders are 3,000 yards per pattern per colour for yarn-dyed linen, 3,000 yards per colour for piece-dyed and 8,000 yards per design for printed linen.
Star Enterprise (HK) Co Ltd is another veteran of the linen business, manufacturing yarns, fabrics and nonwovens. The company has 600 workers, 15,000 spindles and 150 weaving looms producing linen fabrics and some 400 kilos of pure linen yarn per day at its 50,000-square-metre factory in Hunan Province.
About 70% of the company's linen is 100% linen, with the remaining being 30% blended with cotton, ramie, and polyester, all exported under its own Blue Star brand or to customers' requirements. It also produces ramie and hemp.
"We sell more yarns than fabrics but in 2003 and 2004 we will be focusing more on fabrics as the profit potential from finished products is higher," says company spokeswoman Adeline Lam.
Lam says prices vary according to the flax season, and that there is no minimum order requirement. The major markets are in Europe, while Taiwan, Southeast Asia, Turkey, India, Brazil and the Chinese mainland are also destinations.
Fa Tin Textile & Fashion (HK) Ltd, established in 1985, manufactures garments and quality fabrics including one million yards of linen per year. Linen accounts for around 60% of the company's total fabric business, and production includes 100% linen and blends of cotton, rayon, tencel, ramie and stretch.
There is a 40,000-square-foot factory and showroom in Shenzhen on the southern Chinese mainland, which employs some 600 workers. Fa Tin also has co-partnership arrangements for fabric production in Heilongjiang, working with especially selected mills and production facilities on the mainland and in Hong Kong.
The company produces fabrics under the Fa Tin brand, drawing on the expertise of its own design team or working to customers' requirements.
"We have some 200 regular customers and develop new patterns and advise them on weaving techniques," says garment merchandising manager Teresa Shum. "Textured linen is popular, and customers like colours in earth tones such as camel and beige and also pastels."
Linen product prices range from US$1.50-4.50 per yard FOB Hong Kong, for a minimum order of 30,000-50,000 yards for delivery in 60-75 days. Raw materials come from France and the mainland. Major markets are the US and the UK, accounting for 60% and 30% respectively, with the remainder going to Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere. "We offer flexibility for smaller orders and a fast response to new patterns and developments," says Shum.
Red House (HK) Co Ltd, established in 1990, has some 700 workers producing a wide range of fabrics at its 286,000-square-foot factory in Zhongshan in Guangdong Province on the Chinese mainland. The company acquired ISO 9001 certification in 2001.
Red House produces some 10,000 yards of linen per month, including 100% linen, cotton/linen in a variety of mixes and linen/rayon. "Linen is a relatively new development for our company," says marketing executive Kathy Cheng. "Many of our customers were expressing interest in this fabric, responding to an overall fashion trend for all things natural."
The company has taken its interest in linen into new spheres by developing wrinkle-free and waterproof linen in cooperation with a specialist linen factory on the mainland. "Our new special care finishing overcomes creasing and we can waterproof the fabric as well," says Cheng.
The company's linen fabrics range in price from US$1.30-1.50 per yard FOB Hong Kong, with the special finish linen costing US$3.50 per yard. The minimum order is 3,000 yards, for delivery in 15-20 days. Yarn comes from the mainland and Taiwan.
Major markets are Europe and the US, which together account for more than 80% of exports. Other markets include the mainland, Southeast Asia, Chile, Belgium, Eastern Europe and South Africa.
WRITTEN BY SANDRA JENNER
Easy Way Textile Ltd
5/F, Blk D
Hung Cheong Fty Bldg
3 Kwong Cheong St
Cheung Sha Wan, Kowloon
Fa Tin Textile & Fashion
1/F, Blks C-D
554 Nathan Rd, Kowloon
Kin Hing Hong Textiles Ltd
167-169 Yu Chau St
Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
Red House (HK) Co Ltd
Units 1-4, 5/F, Blk A
Po Lung Centre
11 Wang Chiu Rd
Kowloon Bay, Kowloon
Star Enterprise (HK) Co Ltd
12/F, Units A-D
82 King Lam St
Lai Chi Kok, Kowloon
Swire & Maclaine House
19-23 Austin Ave
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
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