8 Feb 2005
Fabric Shoes(HKTDC Fashion - Footwear, Vol 01,2005)
|Experienced footwear manufacturer Hua Hui Enterprise Co produces a wide array of infant shoes|
Cloth's numerous advantages over traditional shoe-making fabrics such as leather and plastic have won firm favour with Hong Kong footwear manufacturers.
A cool-to-wear natural fibre, it can be dyed any colour, printed with any pattern or motif, purchased in a variety of different qualities and still confer price benefits on the end-user.
As a result, Winsful Trading (F.E.) Ltd director Mandy Chau believes fabric shoes bestow several benefits on wearers.
"We use a high-quality canvas which we source on the Chinese mainland for our production range of sneakers and slippers," she says. "We also find that canvas has the advantage of being cheaper and lighter to wear than leather."
Design matters in the shoe business, Chau says. "Sometimes customers bring us their design ideas and sometimes we offer designs to our customers, who are chain stores, importers and wholesalers all over the world," she observes. "Whichever happens, the idea goes to our sample department, where we have 40 people permanently employed."
Winsful makes nearly a million pairs of fabric shoes a month at its factories in Shenzhen and Jiangsu Province on the Chinese mainland, which employ 3,000 workers.
The five-year-old company sources canvas, PU fabric, laces and trimmings on the mainland for its slippers and sneakers, which are fastened with either hook and loop straps or laces.
Winsful's products, Chau notes, sell well in Europe, Asia and the US. "We have a minimum order size of 1,000 pairs per style, which we can deliver 30-45 days from confirmation," she adds.
Jumbo Holdings Development Ltd sales executive Ruby Chau agrees that design is important. "We deal with a variety of different accounts in various areas, including the US, Italy, France, Turkey, Greece, Spain and Japan," she explains. "Since we make a lot of sports shoes we have to back up our offering with design services, both OEM and for our own Double Star brand."
Jumbo Holdings employs 10 dedicated design personnel across the company, and its sample rooms on the Chinese mainland and in Hong Kong employ more than 20 people.
Canvas is a favoured material due its manufacturing flexibility. "We make slippers and sports shoes - Double Star is the biggest brand on the mainland," Chau claims. "Canvas is a useful, lightweight and easy-to-use material for that type of production."
The eight-year-old company's 20,000-strong workforce, spread across 30 production lines in Dongguan and Qingdao on the mainland, manufacture 500,000 pairs of canvas shoes per month.
Jumbo, which sources materials such as canvas, rubber and PU on the mainland, has ISO 9001 certification. "We have a minimum order quantity of 3,000 pairs per colour and style which we can deliver in 33-45 days," Chau adds.
Manufacturing in fabric helps the design process considerably, says Lenny Lam, marketing manager of 10-year-old WSBE Ltd, a Kowloon-based company that manufactures shoes for infants.
"Our clients are all OEM customers," she says. "Canvas offers extensive design options because of the many available colours and prints, which also makes it attractive to kids, and it also enjoys a price advantage compared with other materials."
WSBE employs 560 workers at its mainland factory and numbers Adams, Target, Mothercare, Disney, Bass, Wal-Mart, Fila, Burberry and Elle among its distinguished client list.
Infant, children, ballet and doll shoes made of canvas fabric, PU, leather and PVC sourced on the mainland are sold in England, the US and Europe.
WSBE manufactures 300,000 pairs of shoes a month and has a 2,000-pair per style minimum order quantity, which it can generally deliver in 60 days. "We are currently turning over US$700,000 a year and business is just getting better every day!" Lam enthuses.
The cost benefits of canvas appeal to Fu Xiang Footwear (HK) Co Ltd, which has produced Vieki- brand footwear for 10 years at an ISO 9001-certified factory in Fujian that employs 600 workers.
"Keener prices are a feature of this market," admits marketing executive Andy Leung. "But the fabric itself is much more flexible to use than leather."
Leung says Fu Xiang designs its shoes to meet the demands of the US market, which is home to its biggest customer, Wal-Mart. "We also sell a lot on the mainland and around Asia in countries and regions such as Taiwan, Hong Kong and Malaysia, as well as the EU to a lesser extent," Leung adds. "Our minimum order is 3,000 pairs, which will be delivered 45 days after order confirmation."
It's hardly surprising that Hong Kong fabric shoes find universal favour with consumers who appreciate the myriad benefits of footwear that not only looks good but also feels good to wear.
WRITTEN BY JOHN NEWSON
Hua Hui Enterprise Co
Flat G, 16/F
Kim Tak Bldg
328 Nathan Rd
Jumbo Holdings Development Ltd
Laurels Ind Centre
32 Tai Yau St
San Po Kong, Kowloon
Winsful Trading (F.E.) Ltd
Advanced Technology Centre
2 Choi Fat St
Sheung Shui, New Territories
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