5 Aug 2008
A Relaxed Pace(HKTDC Fashion - Footwear, Vol 02,2008)
From classic to funky, sandals from Hong Kong run the gamut of styles to please every wearer who refuses to have totally "bound" feet
Freedom-loving women eager to break away from restrictions all the way down to the toe will certainly have a fixture in their shoe cabinet - the sandal. Casual and comfortable, the sandal contributes to a relaxed lifestyle while flattering the feet in warm weather and at special occasions.
Classic or cutting-edge, an extensive array of designs is available from Hong Kong, which apparently has a leg up on its competitors as a global sourcing hub for sandals.
One local manufacturer, for example, is Vitamin Industries Ltd, whose latest offerings include model 43721, which comes with a black patent leather upper, metallic leather lining, kid leather sock and an 8cm heel.
"The insole features a special black-and-white contrast design, which we believe is visually attractive to the wearer," says Sales and Marketing Manager Bonnie Leung, predicting that the product will be popular, especially in Europe. She adds that another in-demand style is model 43811, a black leather mule with a wedge heel.
Both items can come in other colours according to customer specifications, Ms Leung advises. Selling to the UK, Japan and Hong Kong, Vitamin Industries continually designs and introduces new models to ensure that it is always offering the latest styles and trendiest looks. "As for upcoming trends, we think that embossed leather, crocodile, and snake leather sandals will be popular," Ms Leung reckons.
Buyers after fun styles will certainly find favour with new creations from Shui Cheong Hong Enterprise Ltd. Model SC933, for example, is a flat sandal with minimal PU straps adorned with hearts in plastic. Model SC926, meanwhile, sports a 6cm-high wedge and a PU upper.
"We provide customers with the flexibility to choose their own specifications. For example, with these two models, the upper material can be synthetic, fabric or leather. The sole can be made from PVC or rubber," advises Managing Director Patrick Ng.
"These sandals have been selling well and come in just about any colour the customer wants, and we can even do a special colour if the sandals are ordered in bulk," he notes. Their key selling point is comfort. "They have a highly elastic footbed and use durable materials for the sole, such as rubber. Comfort has become an important trend for ladies' sandals." Both models are priced from US$4.50-7.50 FOB Hong Kong per pair depending on the materials used.
The company also makes children's sandals and knows the secret of winning over kids. "For example, one that features a famous cartoon character will be a successful seller," Mr Ng observes. "Other than that, children's sandals should be colourful and lightweight.
Selling mostly to wholesalers in the US, Europe, Australia and Japan, Shui Cheong Hong focuses on OEM although it can also provide up to 30 designs for customers to consider. "We are always researching the newest materials and design trends, often referring to lifestyle magazines and fashion shows for inspiration," Mr Ng says.
Perennially modish looks, meanwhile, are the aspirations of Solidfirm (Asia) Int'l Ltd, which prefers to focus on leather shoes featuring a classic yet chic style that the wearer will feel comfortable wearing for more than one season.
"For leather shoes, we focus on simple and basic designs, which sell better than 'trendy' styles that do not stay popular for long," explains Sales Director Sarah Chan. "Shoes made from leather are also more durable than synthetic shoes, which means that people may wear them for a year or more."
Among the firm's hot sellers are three slingback, peep-toe styles - model SF-4050L boasts a bow and a wedge heel, while models SF-4096L and SF-4327L are fitted with buckles on the upper.
"These shoes are sharp and summery and can also be worn in spring, and all models come in a wide choice of spring/summer colours," says Ms Chan, adding that colour options include red, yellow, fuchsia, blue, turquoise, beige, black and white.
"The sandals are made from patent cow leather - they have a leather lining and insole, as well as a metallic PU sock. The use of leather makes these shoes very comfortable to wear and the metallic sock looks smart," she notes. "Patent leather is a current trend and popular heels are wedge and platform."
Solidfirm designs shoes for sale to retailers, wholesalers, importers, chain stores and department stores in Europe, the US and Asia.
With such a wide range of sandals conveniently available locally, buyers making Hong Kong their first port of call can certainly be spared lots of unnecessary legwork.
TEXT BY VICKI WILLIAMS