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FANCY FOOTWORK(HKTDC Fashion - Footwear,1998)


August
1998


FANCY FOOTWORK
Men's Dress Shoes

RETRO RULES
Platform Shoes & Sandals

SAILOR'S STYLE
Boat Shoes

TOTTERING TODDLERS
Baby Footwear

SLIP INTO COMFORT
Indoor Slippers

FANCY FOOTWORK
Men's Dress Shoes

DESPITE the phenomenal rise in the popularity of trainers and casual shoes in recent years, there are still occasions when something a little smarter is called for. Men's dress shoes are the answer. Whether opting for traditional or modern styles, there are plenty of companies catering for all market and budget requirements.

Established in 1986, Hang Lee Shoes Co Ltd manufactures and exports footwear, including men's shoes — from sandals to boots — in both leather and man-made materials, shoes, mainly in PU, for women, and children's shoes, in leather and PU, in its two factories in mainland China.

Production capacity for men's dress shoes is 20,000 pairs a month. PU comes from Taiwan and Germany, while leather comes from Spain, Germany and Brazil.

"We have recently introduced a new line in our men's footwear range. Taking their modern design inspiration from Italy, the shoes also feature a new PU sole that is much lighter and more flexible than before," says merchandiser Katima Khan.

Among this new range are suede lace-ups, leather loafers, and other slip-on styles, priced from HK$78 to HK$98 FOB Hong Kong a pair.

Minimum order is 700 pairs, with delivery taking 25-40 days after order confirmation. According to Khan, the company's main markets are Russia, Germany, Poland, the Philippines and the US, and shoes carry the brand name Max'De.

Men's dress shoes are a relatively new product for Topping Footwear Mfg Co, although the company has been manufacturing a range of men's, women's and children's shoes since its establishment in 1993. Modern styles in leather and PU include brogues, loafers and lace-up shoes in a variety of colours, according to marketing assistant Shanice Yau.

Minimum order is 500 pairs per colour and style, and delivery takes 50-60 days after receipt of L/C. The firm accepts OEM orders, and the main markets are Europe and Asia.

Eric Shen, assistant general manager of China Hua Yuan Co Ltd, says: "We are in the business of classic, traditional models which don't change too much from year to year. Ours is the more mature customer who wants shoes for a formal occasion."

China Hua Yuan is a trading company dealing in men's and ladies' shoes. It works closely with the manufacturer on the mainland, and provides the factory with materials, design specifications, market information and the brand name Plaudy.

Shoes, in genuine leather, are available in a variety of styles and colours — from dark brown loafers to red slip-on styles with a tassel detail — and sell for about US$16 FOB Hong Kong a pair.

Established in 1964, the company has been trading in shoes for the past decade and sells mainly to France, Canada and South Africa.

Minimum order size is 2,000 pairs for delivery 45 days after order confirmation. The company sources genuine kid leather and cowhide from India and South America, Shen says. "[Mainland] China is facing intense competition from other Asian countries, particularly from the sub-continent. We must, therefore, compete in terms of quality, service and styling."

Established in 1967, Noboe's Trading Co Ltd manufactures men's and ladies' leather and PU shoes.

The company produces 25,000 pairs a month, made of leather and PU from Italy, the US, Brazil, Japan and the mainland.

Styles are modern and practical. The B29908 is a matt black leather lace-up shoe that sells for US$16, the B21930 is a patent leather slip-on shoe priced at US$17, and the D24101 is a brown leather lace-up selling for US$16.50 FOB Hong Kong.

Manager Carol Kwan says the company accepts minimum orders of 3,000-4,000 pairs, depending on the model, and delivery takes 60 days after order confirmation. Main markets are Japan, Russia, the US and mainland China, where shoes carry the brand names R.A.M.O., London Collection, and Noboe's.

Dunruns Int'l Ltd specialises in the manufacture of traditional styles in leather and occasionally PU under the brand name Dunruns.

The firm's main market is mainland China. "We have classic designs, but we are also introducing new lines based on Italian designs which we think will be popular. In the past we have concentrated on the China market but this year we hope to break into some overseas markets, particularly Australia, where there is a large Chinese population, and the US. Rather than concentrate on the US$16 sector, we plan to aim for the high-end of the market," says director Seath Wong.

The company, set up in 1993, makes 25,000-30,000 pairs of men's and women's shoes a month at its factory on the mainland. Leather comes from Italy and PU from Japan. According to Wong, the company has applied for ISO 9001 certification.

The firm's range includes model 8702, a black leather slip-on shoe with snaffle buckle detail selling for HK$235 FOB Hong Kong a pair, model 8601 in black leather with patent mock-croc leather toe and snaffle buckle (priced at HK$205), and the 9301 tan leather slip-on shoe selling for HK$175 a pair.

Minimum order is 1,000 pairs per model and delivery takes 30 days after order confirmation.

Written by Vivien Jones


RETRO RULES
Platform Shoes & Sandals

WITH 90-millimetre chunky heels parading along international fashion catwalks, the platform shoe is no understatement. Since its re-emergence in the 1990s fashion scene, this quintessential 1970s shoe continues to grow bigger and bolder. The subtle roses and lemons of yesteryear have been reborn as psychedelic pinks and neon yellows, while ever-growing heels continue to challenge the most daring of trend-setters.

Fortunately for the wearer, the original clunky shoe has shed some weight. Today, lighter not only means more practical, but more fashionable. About half of the 120,000 pairs of platforms manufactured at Vanson Footwear Co Ltd each month are made of lightweight cork. "Cork platforms will be very popular during the next season [summer 1999]," says marketing manager Grace Lui. Cork platform sandals are typically priced at US$3.20 a pair FOB Hong Kong.

Platform shoes constitute 20% of Vanson's total monthly output of 600,000 pairs. Lui says the company has been manufacturing platforms for two years and expects the trend to last another two years. "We are receiving many more orders from Europe," she says. Other markets include the US, Japan and South Africa.

Minimum order is 3,000 pairs per style, with delivery one month after confirmation. Samples take 7-10 days to assemble.

Phoebe Yu, manager at Cheung Kong Trading Co, also predicts that cork platforms will be in high demand for the coming season. "Cork has replaced PU as the most popular type of platform shoe," she says. Production at Cheung Kong, which has been manufacturing shoes since 1968, is made up of 50% children's models, 35% women's designs and 15% men's shoes. It operates a 700-worker factory in Shenzhen, mainland China.

"We've been manufacturing ladies' platform shoes for export to the UAE, Lebanon and Israel for two years. We bring out more than 100 styles of platform shoes per season," says Yu. Inspiration for the designs comes from Italian fashion magazines.

Sparkomax Int'l Ltd is one of Hong Kong's few shoe manufacturers that produce platforms for both men and women. Managing director John Hung says the company has more than 1,000 designs and brings out 100-150 new styles each year, a third being platforms in leather and PU.

"Platforms have remained popular because there is so much space for creativity," says Hung. The highest heel of a Sparkomax design measures 80 millimetres. Designs are varied, such as trendy silver, white and grey platform lace-up trainers; smart dark-brown leather, buckle-up platform shoes; royal-blue suede boots with bold blue-and-white-striped 80-millimetre heels; and black lace-up platform boots.

"Most of our customers rely on us to come up with the designs," Hung says. "We've been manufacturing platforms for more than two years now and they are still popular, particularly within the Japanese market." Platforms sell for US$7-12 a pair FOB Hong Kong.

Aside from Japan, Sparkomax's major markets include the US and eastern Europe. Monthly production output at two factories in Shenzhen and Dongguan, on the mainland, totals 150,000-200,000 pairs. Clients must order a minimum of 1,000 pairs, for delivery 60 days after order confirmation.

Best Way Footwear Co Ltd also produces casual lace-up boot-platforms in canvas, suede, EVA and leather. Some shoes appear under the brand name Blue Suede Shoes and Jockey. Colour schemes vary from olive-green suede lace-ups to bold red-and-white-striped black platform boots.

Major markets include US, Europe and Africa. The 600-worker, 30,000-square-foot factory in Zhongshan, on the mainland, manufactures 600,000 pairs a month. Delivery time is 45 days after confirmation of order.

Sun Ya Shoes Mfy Ltd produces about 300,000 pairs a month at its 1,600-worker factory in Dongguan, on the mainland. Since its establishment in 1993, the company has been producing platform shoes, mainly of the sporty type. Sun Ya's brand names, PNN and Key Foot, are tagged to a casual yet comfortable line-up of shoes which includes platforms in various styles, such as sports shoes and walking boots for men, women and children.

Sun Ya offers 250 styles of platforms for women and children each year. Although demand over the last three years has focused more towards sports platform-trainers and boots, sales executive Carmen Cheung says the European market now favours more fashionable day-wear styles. "Demand for sports shoes and hiking boots is decreasing; more people want fashion shoes."

FOB Hong Kong prices average US$4.70 a pair for children's sizes and US$5.16 for women's sizes. Minimum order is 2,000 pairs, with delivery 45 days after order confirmation. Major export markets are Europe and North America.

Globe Distributions Co produces extremely light summer platforms made of EVA from Taiwan. The models are very bright and bold and feature fitted heels measuring up to 90 millimetres. "We don't make any higher shoes," says manager Billy Su. "Otherwise it could be quite dangerous."

The company offers more than 20 platform designs for women, with typical prices ranging from US$4.50 to US$9.80 a pair FOB Hong Kong. Platform styles include wavy purple, mauve and pink summer slip-ons, bright yellow and black striped sandals, and blue platforms with rippled heels.

Established in 1989, Globe manufactures mainly for the UK market and requires a minimum order of 6,000 pairs. Monthly production runs to 400,000 pairs. Delivery takes 75 days after order confirmation.

Manley Footwear Ltd also has a bright selection of summer platforms in bright youthful styles, including orange suede, yellow and black polka dot-heeled sandals, and yellow and blue striped heeled sandals. The firm specialises in sports, dress and canvas shoes and EVA sandals.

EVA fashion sandals range in price from US$3 to US$3.95 per pair FOB Hong Kong, on average.

Major markets include the US, South America and eastern Europe. Monthly production at the 500-worker factory in Guangdong, on the mainland, is 300,000 pairs. Manley requires a minimum order of 2,000 pairs per style and delivers 45-60 days after order confirmation.

Written by Zoe Lynch


SAILOR'S STYLE
Boat Shoes

MOST people who wear boat shoes will probably never go near a boat in them. But these landlubbers still want the same attributes that a yachtsman would demand — durability, comfort, a firm grip and protection from the elements. Rolling all those up into a shoe that also looks stylish is a tall order, but not too tall for Hong Kong's footwear manufacturers, which produce a range of boat shoes, whether using high-quality Italian leather or less expensive PVC.

Road Mate Int'l Ltd has been making footwear since 1957 and can produce boat shoes with any kind of construction, including Goodyear welt, cement, injection and stitch-down. Export manager Sam Ng is proud of Road Mate's technical ability: "The most difficult type of construction is Goodyear welt because the upper leather, mid-sole and welt are all stitched together on the inside. It costs the most because it produces a very sturdy shoe and needs some work by hand.

"The workers need about a year's training to do Goodyear welt construction and not many factories here can do this. If buyers get this kind of work done in Europe or South America, it costs a lot more than here," Ng says.

Included in Road Mate's product range are shoes in the full range of high-performance footwear leathers, including oily full-grain, oily pull-up and crazy horse finishes. Most of the leather comes from South Korea, famous for its high-quality but reasonably priced footwear cowhide. "Apart from [South] Korea, we also buy our leather from Taiwan and the US as all three have good quality control and timely delivery," adds Ng.

The company considers Europe as its main market, but sells all over the world, including the Americas, the Middle East and Asia. Road Mate's boat shoes typically range in price from US$17 to US$20 a pair FOB Hong Kong.

Working in markets closer to home, Peerich Investment Ltd produces a wide range of men's and women's casual shoes, including boat shoes. Its factory in Shunde, mainland China, turns out about 26,000 pairs a month. Sales are split equally between Hong Kong, Japan and mainland China. The company's ability to process a variety of different shoe orders is one of its advantages, and technically demanding products like boat shoes are ideally produced by a quality-conscious factory, explains director Rod Lau.

"We sell on quality rather than price, and because we are quite a small factory, can survive the ups and downs of the market better than big factories," Lau says.

Peerich's range of boat shoes includes both slip-on and lace-up models for men and women in rich, soft leathers from Taiwan, the US and South Korea. Other materials and accessories can now be sourced on the mainland.

"Ten years ago it was impossible to get the materials we needed in [mainland] China, but in the last three or four years we have found them. This has helped our production a lot because it cuts down the lead time and so cuts down on costs," says Lau.

As well as working with customers' designs, Peerich has its own product development officer and also sells under three of its own brand names — Le Paia, Napoli and Shun Fa. This has helped sales on the mainland, where Peerich sells directly to department stores rather than through wholesalers, Lau says.

Peerich's boat shoes are priced at US$13-15 FOB Hong Kong, with lead times of 45-60 days.

Channel Shoes Co Ltd can shoe a whole family in its range of boat shoes, which includes models for men, women and children. One children's item is made of multicoloured patent PU, a design fun enough to catch a child's eye but sturdy enough to appeal to parents, too.

Set up in 1993, the company makes 20,000-30,000 pairs of casual shoes a month in both PU and leather. Leathers and PU upper materials are sourced in Taiwan as well as Italy and Germany. Main export markets include South Africa and Asia.

Minimum order can be as little as 500 pairs for one style, one colour, and turnaround time is 30-45 days. Prices for Channel's PVC boat shoes with leather lining range from US$3.20 for children's models to US$6.60 for men's styles.

Buyers looking for lightweight boat shoes can start their search at Fortune Trader Industrial Ltd. The product range includes both men's and women's shoes with soft slip-on uppers and a light PU sole. Prices range from US$9.50 to US$11 FOB Hong Kong, with a minimum order of 500 pairs per colour.

"We sell our boat shoes in [South] Korea, Singapore, Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as in eastern Europe," says director Liu King Cheung.

Good Fit Mfg Ltd received a lot of business from the Russian market last year but when the latter took a nosedive in November, the company was able to swiftly turn its attention to other markets around the world. "Our markets are spread around the world and we are very flexible. We can react to the current market in terms of quantity and price very quickly, and this gives us an advantage compared with bigger factories," says export manager Donien Mak.

By specialising in PVC and PU uppers, Good Fit is able to keep prices at an economical level (US$3.85-6.80 for boat shoes). It tries to be innovative, especially important with a classic product like boat shoes where the style changes little from year to year.

"We have some basic styles and try to use different types of materials in order to offer the customer some development," says Mak. The company can do both cement construction and cement with top-stitching and requires a minimum order of 2,400 pairs in two colours.

Written by Jane Parry


TOTTERING TODDLERS
Baby Footwear

TODAY'S range of baby footwear will satisfy even the most discerning parent. Some are soft, some hard-soled, some squeaky and others have fluorescent colour pads that glow in the dark — but all are specially designed with delicate, growing feet in mind.

Models such as walking boots or sneakers are miniatures of adult styles, but manufacturers also produce fun baby footwear with three-dimensional stuffed animals and multicoloured geometrical designs that stimulate and entertain babies.

For those not doing much in the way of walking yet, Honest Enterprises Co Ltd offers a collection of soft-soled fabric bootees. Model 2875 features a toe panel with a court jester's face in red, yellow and green felt against a navy background. A pair sells for HK$11 FOB Hong Kong.

Winnie the Pooh features on the front of a soft bootee, with his yellow body in his customary red top and a three-dimensional head and arms protruding from the toe. This model (2885) is priced at HK$10 per pair.

"Our 3D and soft-material shoes, made of interlock knitted fabric, sell very well," says general manager Jimmy Wong, adding that the company follows whatever safety regulations are stipulated by importing countries. "There are different regulations in different countries, such as with the use of azo-free dyestuff and formaldehyde-free textiles," Wong says.

Honest Enterprises operates a 2,000-square-metre factory in Guangzhou, mainland China, which can deliver within 45 days of order confirmation. Minimum order is 2,000 pairs.

Bornshine (Babywears) Co Ltd has also taken this three-dimensional approach on some of its designs. Model BS-64, a soft-soled bootee in blue felt, features a protruding smiling dinosaur wearing a yellow crown. Another flamboyant design, model BS-265, shows a knitted smiling bear's face in a ring of criss-cross stitching on the toe panel against a navy felt background. Prices are available on request.

Manager Joy Chan explains the shoes' safety features: "Most of the fabric we use is cotton. We check that all the shoes have no sharp points and, most importantly, use a needle detector to check that each pair of baby shoes has no broken needles or pins."

Bornshine produces a range of baby wear from its factory in Shantou, mainland China, which employs 200 workers. It delivers 60 days from order confirmation and accepts minimum orders of 120,000 pairs.

Capital Shoes Fty Ltd offers snazzy sandals for the summer, including model 7119/798, a pair of hard-soled, strappy gold-coloured PVC sandals with small silver daisies (US$1.70 per pair FOB Hong Kong), and model 7069CB3/KK, a multicoloured pair with straps in solid green, blue, red and yellow and a buckle on the toe strap and ankle (US$1.85 a pair).

For parties and formal occasions, Capital makes traditional black patent cross-bar shoes with a heart and velvet ribbon detail on the toe panel, and a cotton twill dotted sole. This model, ST-7045, is priced at US$1.85 per pair.

Capital has its own in-house designers. However, "most of our designs are brought from our customers, especially since we produce shoes for brands like Disney, Warner Brothers and Barbie", says manager Susan Chiu.

Capital operates a 50,000-square-foot factory in Shenzhen, on the mainland, and employs 400-500 workers. It accepts minimum orders of 3,000 pairs for existing styles and 6,000 pairs for new styles, and delivers 30-45 days from order confirmation.

Among Good Luck Baby Shoes Co (HK) Ltd's range of soft-soled shoes for very young babies are red and white T-bar cotton shoes with a teddy bear detail on the toe panel. This model (GL-17401/BE) sells for US$0.45 per pair FOB Hong Kong. Model GL-283AR, a pair of white cotton slippers with a satin ribbon and lace rose detail on the rim of the shoes, sells for US$0.50.

Marketing manager Catherine Chow says, "Satin shoes are popular in North America, especially for christening." To provide maximum safety in its products, Chow says there are "no pins or dangerous materials. We are very careful about the decoration, using soft fabrics".

Good Luck accepts minimum orders of 700 dozen pairs and delivers 60 days from order confirmation.

Monthly production totals 10,000 dozen pairs.Bud Industries produces trendy boots and sneakers for toddlers. Included in its collection are a pair of hard-soled, multicoloured boots with red, navy-blue, mustard-yellow and bottle-green panels with a red felt interior. This model (2068) sells for US$3.50 per pair FOB Hong Kong.

Soft-soled, white corduroy boots with yellow piping (model 6005) feature a pink rabbit sitting next to building blocks on the toe panel and cotton patterned interior. A pair is priced at US$1.50.

"Each of our products must pass safety tests and meet the standard requirement of different countries' customers," says sales co-ordinator Doris U. "We search for good-quality raw materials and match them with competitive prices." Bud manufactures shoes for B.H. Bass, Mothercare and Goldbug.

The company takes minimum orders of 5,000 pairs. It delivers within 75 days of order confirmation from its 800-worker factory on the mainland.

Written by Meiling Voon


SLIP INTO COMFORT
Indoor Slippers

THE first thing people do after a hard day's work is to kick off their work shoes, slip on a pair of slippers and relax. Hong Kong manufacturers of indoor slippers certainly appreciate the value of relaxation, whether they specialise in elegant slip-ons or offer zebra-print slippers.

Qualfoot Co Ltd was established in 1989 and has bases in Hong Kong and mainland China. It creates a range of footwear for customers in Europe, the US, Canada and Australia. Its latest collection includes bootee-style slippers with animal prints, priced at US$1.85-3.10 per pair.

Manager Stanley Chu explains why Qualfoot enjoys an annual turnover of about US$15m: "We use the best materials to make the highest-quality slippers. Our factory has been established for a long time, so our workmanship is very good."

Qualfoot requires a minimum order of 2,400 pairs per model, for delivery 60-70 days after receipt of confirmation.

Zhong Shan Light Industrial Products Co Ltd operates a factory in Jiangsu, on the mainland, which produces more than 240,000 pairs of indoor slippers a year. The company offers elegant, classic styles using vibrant colours and embossed or embroidered motifs.

Its latest collection contains an elegant gold slip-on and a summery floral brogue with a jazzy trim of multicoloured stars. Details include cross-stitching and cosy padded insteps.

"We bring out new styles twice a year and try our best to give our clientele what they want," says spokesperson Juliet Sun. "We can produce any style. We are flexible and adapt to market needs. Some customers give us their own designs, and we supply designs to others."

Established in 1988, Zhong Shan exports to France and Greece under the brand name Friendship. Minimum order is 5,000 pairs, and typical prices range from US$0.87 to US$1.24 per pair FOB Jiangsu or Shanghai. Customers should contact the company directly for delivery lead times.

Tulip Ltd exports its slippers primarily to the US, Japan and Canada, using fabrics sourced from the mainland, Taiwan and South Korea. "Our slippers are very comfortable because of the fabrics we use," says spokesperson Daisy Lam.

Tulip designs its own slippers but also creates shoes from customers' patterns, taking around 2-3 weeks to produce a sample from a buyer's sketch. Prices of the slippers vary from about US$1 to US$2 per pair for a minimum order of 3,000 pairs. Delivery takes 45 days after confirmation.

Founded in 1992, Tulip has an annual turnover of HK$40m and employs 400 people at its 40,000-square-foot factory in Dongguan, on the mainland. According to Lam, Tulip has a large market in Canada. "We produce footwear with Disney characters for Canada, mainly for children," Lam says.

JSP Pacific Ltd operates a factory in Guangzhou, on the mainland, and sources fabrics and original materials from Taiwan and the mainland. Founded in 1993, the company makes slippers and bags and yields 300,000 pieces per month. The minimum order is 5,000 pairs, which take 45 days to deliver.

"Our slippers are sold to hotels and companies," says sales manager Paul Ngan. "We sell [slippers] to big hotel chains like the Sheraton, Holiday Inn and Shangri-La for their customers' use. Our slippers are therefore used internationally, at hotels in Europe and the US. We also sell washable slippers for use in bathrooms to the US."

Like other Hong Kong firms, JSP Pacific tailors its designs to its clients' needs. "Our designs depend on our customers' requests. Our main markets are Germany, the UK and Japan and we listen to our customers' requirements," Ngan says.

An important part of Mandarin Shoes Fty's output are indoor slippers. The latest models are made from vibrant PVC in a medley of colours. One style for men is a maroon slip-on with tartan insteps and jaunty gold studs. Styles for women include lilac pull-ons with an embossed floral design, or an elegant black pump with silver and teal detail.

Sales manager Selina Lam says: "We mainly make indoor slippers. We can silk-screen a company's logo on to our shoes if necessary. We have some buyers, for instance, who have already produced night wear and want to create matching slippers in the same material and/or style to complete the full set. We are able to do this easily."

Mandarin sources materials such as PU, PVC, cotton, nylon and boa from the mainland, Taiwan and South Korea. A workforce of 100 assembles 50,000 pairs of shoes per month at a 12,000-square-foot factory in Shenzhen, on the mainland. Minimum order is 2,000 pairs per item and colour, for delivery 45-60 days after order confirmation.

"We also make children's bootees with cartoon designs. We use suede, leather, PVC or cloth, depending on what is most suitable," says Lam.

Written by Liz Moscrop

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