4 Aug 2005
Perfect Prints(HKTDC Fashion - Footwear, Vol 02,2005)
Vol 2, 2005
York Wah Trading Co
|The high-quality ladies' fashion shoes manufactured by York Wah Trading Co feature delicately crafted, hand-cut printed PU|
To date, York Wah has been an OEM-only operation but Wan is now keen to push ahead with a line of high quality fashion shoes made to the company's own designs, which he expects to launch towards the end of 2006.
Headquartered in Hong Kong, York Wah's factory in Dongguan on the Chinese mainland employs 70 workers, who produce ladies' fashion footwear to Wan's exacting standards.
"We make about 20,000 pairs per month," Wan explains, adding that they all have to be handmade. "Because of the printing they require very specialised workmanship."
His commitment to printing quality comes from his background in printed PU, a material extensively used in footwear but seldom used for the high-quality shoes York Wah produces.
The printed PU used for the company's shoes has to be painstakingly hand-cut, so that no matter how intricate the printed pattern each pair is a precise match.
Wan notes that the process requires a high level of craftsmanship and the shoes are also hand-stitched. "It wasn't easy getting the hand-work up to that standard, but we have the process under control now," he claims.
"We need special material and the printing work is complicated, which restricts the quantity we can produce, but not many mainland manufacturers can do this type of work."
The printed PU, which comes from mainland suppliers, is mounted on leather uppers sourced in Pakistan. "We use a special kind of printing - not standard screen printing, but a form of offset process," Wan explains. "Obviously the printing has to be colour-fast."
One problem with cheap printed PU footwear, Wan explains, is that colours tend to run if shoes are exposed to excess moisture or the wrong kind of cleaning materials.
"Our shoes have a special surface coating that ensures that the designs are absolutely colour-fast - resistant to both water and chemicals such as dry-cleaning fluid," says Wan.
These attributes have won York Wah a small number of regular clients, mostly in North America and Europe, and the volume of the business, although not large, is steady.
"Although it's a low-volume business we can command viable prices for high-quality goods," Wan observes. "What we do is too complicated for companies who are manufacturing shoes on a much larger scale, so that leaves us a niche in the market."
He adds that York Wah can generally deliver within 45 days if the company has the moulding. "But if we are working from a totally new design it can take longer," Wan admits.
Currently, both the shoes and the PU printed patterns are designed by York Wah's customers, but the company now has sufficient experience to develop its own designs for the York Wah brand while also continuing with its OEM business.
"Whatever design customers come up with, we can make it," Wan insists, adding that quality control is very important. "Because of the small quantities involved in each order, quality requirements from our customers are very strict."
Wan intends to focus on the European and Japanese markets when the new brand is launched at the end of the year, because he believes York Wah's high-quality manufacturing and design values are most likely to be appreciated by consumers in these markets.
"High-quality shoes like these have to go to well-developed, sophisticated markets," he maintains, adding that long-term plans for the brand include working with other factories to produce a range of coordinated leather and printed PU accessories.
"If demand grows we will look at expanding our production capability, but it is a costly business so we need to take it a step at a time," Wan concludes.
WRITTEN BY ROBERT PIERCE
York Wah Trading Co
Flat F, 17/F,
Wing Yip Industrial Bldg,
21-27 Wing Yip St,
Kwai Chung, New Territories,
|Hong Kong Buyers Request Form||Overseas Buyers Request Form||More Publications|