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Little Feet(HKTDC Fashion - Footwear, Vol 02,2008)



Children's Footwear

Sun Lik Shoes & Metal Co Ltd manufactures a huge range of baby and children's footwear such as this ballet-shoe model

Kids are sure to be swept off their feet by the fancy, cheery-coloured and comfortable range of children's footwear on offer from Hong Kong

Be it dainty ballerina slippers, gumboots for the rain or just plain Mary Janes, Hong Kong is the first stop for buyers from around the world looking for a shoe that perfectly fits any little foot.

Among local specialists in children's footwear is Sun Lik Shoes & Metal Co Ltd, which produces mainly under OEM terms for well-known chain stores operating in the US and Europe. These two markets account for 60% and 40% of the company's sales respectively.

Sun Lik firm primarily makes soft-soled (mostly stitch-and-turn) booties, sandals and trainers for babies and toddlers, as well as ballet slipper styles.

"Children's shoe designs are fairly standard, such as ballerina and classic Mary Janes, and girls' shoes are always more in demand than boys', but the current trend is for bright, metallic or glittery colours," observes Development Manager Venus Li.

Babies' shoes require the softest materials, and Sun Lik buys its leather - cow, lambskin and nubuck - from China and Korea, while PU is sourced from China and Taiwan. Fabric and EVA come from China.

Ms Li says that ballerina-style shoes are currently popular sellers, such as model GS 49, a square-toed ballerina shoe designed for walking outdoors. It features a metallic pink PU upper, a bow with contrast stitching, a die-cut rubber outsole, a PU insole and cement construction.

The FOB Hong Kong price for this style ranges from US$4-7 per pair. Leather shoes are US$6-9 on average, while PU or fabric shoes are US$2.50-5.00.

During the past eight years, Sun Lik has also become known for its canvas and leather ballet shoes for both child and adult dancers - a line that started after a customer asked for ballet shoes for one of its clients.

"Kids' shoes are 80% of our business and ballet shoes make up 20%, and we hope to develop more European customers for our children's shoes," says Ms Li.

Walkin' in the rain

When it comes to waterproof footwear, look no further than rubber boot and snow boot specialist, Vanguard Shoe Co Ltd.

"Before, our business was mainly children's rain boots," says Director Susan Sung. "Now we are half-half adult and children's, especially since ladies' fashion rubber boots have become popular around the world."

Every boot is 100% handmade from natural rubber sourced from Thailand and Malaysia. The rubber is cut piece by piece, wrapped around a mould and then glued. Next, a pattern is hand-printed before the boot undergoes vulcanization for one hour. The final step is waterproof testing.

"It is very labour-intensive - more than 40 processes are carried out by hand to produce one pair of rubber boots," explains Ms Sung. "Not many companies are doing this - it is hard work and needs a lot of investment."

The firm exports to department stores, shoe shops, local distributors, wholesalers and importers in Europe (70%), Japan (10%) and other markets (20%) comprising the US, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Half of the decorative patterns on the boots are exclusive designs to OEM customers, while the other half are the firm's own designs. Top-selling patterns for girls' boots are different kinds of floral motifs in pink and red. Boys prefer animal designs and shades of blue, black and green.

Children's rubber boots are available in European sizes 19-35, ladies' boots in European sizes 36-41, and men's boots in European sizes 42-47. Rubber boots are priced at FOB China (ex-Shanghai or Xingang) US$5-8 per pair.

Comfort counts

Style and comfort are important features when it comes to casual children's shoes, and one slip-on girls' model with both is proving a hot seller for Comfort Star Footwear Ltd.

The metallic PU shoe (model L85-429E), which features a PU upper with decorative stitching, an elastic strap, a rubber sole and a micro-suede lining, is available in European sizes 22-36.

"Customers like the styling, it is comfortable and the price is competitive," explains Manager Eric Tong. "The micro-suede lining is more comfortable than PU or PVC and it absorbs sweat, so it provides a better fit because the child's foot won't slip up and down as much."

Other hot sellers this year include sports sandals and low boots. "The sole of the sports sandal is flexible and when kids walk or run it is more comfortable," Mr Tong says, adding that FOB Hong Kong prices for all models are available upon request.

The firm exports to international chain stores, department stores and importers in Europe (especially France, the UK, Belgium and Romania), North America, Australia, and the Middle East.

Taiwan, Korea and China are the main sources for the PU, fabric and leather used to produce Comfort Star's shoes, with PU, micro-suede and suede leather the most popular choices.

Comfort Star also offers its customers peace of mind by providing a shoe-testing service to ensure that its products meet test standards such as pulling and colour fastness.

"We can either do the testing ourselves or send it out to an independent testing centre such as ITS, SGS or BV," says Mr Tong, adding that about 30% of the firm's customers request the service.

It seems that Hong Kong children's shoe manufacturers are more than ready to provide the perfect fit for every little foot.



Comfort Star Footwear Ltd
Unit 7, 22/F
Wang Cheong Enterprises Centre
65-69 Chai Wan Kok St
Tsuen Wan, New Territories
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2417-4166
Fax: 852-2417-2666
Year Established: 2005
Major Product Categories: children's, babies' and ladies' shoes
Own Brands & Certificates: -
Minimum Order: 1,200 pairs per style, 3,600 pairs per order
Monthly Production: 200,000 pairs
Delivery Time: 45-60 days
Factory Size & Location: 60,000 square metres; Guangdong
Workforce: 1,500
Leader Trading Co
Rm 2206
Hong Kong Plaza
188 Connaught Rd West
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2540-5330
Fax: 852-2559-6297
Year Established: -
Major Product Categories: children's shoes, boots and sandals
Own Brands & Certificates: -
Minimum Order: 600 pairs per style per colour
Monthly Production: -
Delivery Time: 45-60 days
Factory Size & Location: -
Workforce: -
Sun Lik Shoes & Metal Co Ltd
Rms 808-9
Harbour Crystal Centre
100 Granville Rd
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2332-3889
Fax: 852-2710-8469
Year Established: 1980
Major Product Categories: babies', children's and ballet shoes
Own Brands & Certificates: -
Minimum Order: 3,000 pairs
Monthly Production: 220,000 -250,000 pairs
Delivery Time: 3 months
Factory Size & Location: Dongguan
Workforce: 1,000
Sunbo (HK) Ltd
Units 5-7, 22/F
China Merchants Steam Navigation Bldg
152-155 Connaught Rd Central
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2369-7283
Fax: 852-2369-7109
Year Established: 1997
Major Product Categories: cemented shoes
Own Brands & Certificates: Angie Girl, Ale Shark
Minimum Order: 3,000 pairs per order, 1,000 pairs per style
Monthly Production: 60,000 pairs
Delivery Time: 60-90 days
Factory Size & Location: Shenzhen
Workforce: 250-280
Vanguard Shoe Co Ltd
Unit 11, 15/F
New Commerce Centre
19 On Sum St
Sha Tin, New Territories
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2645-0129
Fax: 852-2144-5806
Web: www.vgdboot.com
Year Established: 1999
Major Product Categories: ladies' fashion boots, marine boots, rain boots, industrial boots, hunting boots
Own Brands & Certificates: -
Minimum Order: 2,000 pairs
Monthly Production: 50,000 pairs
Delivery Time: 60 days
Factory Size & Location: Shanghai, Beijing
Workforce: 300