3 Aug 2007
Striding Ahead(HKTDC Fashion - Footwear, Vol 02,2007)
|Solidfirm (Asia) Int'l Ltd makes great use of brown PU and synthetic materials to create these fashion boots for women in Europe, South Africa and North America|
No matter what the season, there is always strong demand for stylish and attractive boots for men, women and children
Boots may be made for walking, but they are also high-fashion items that combine good design, quality materials and competitive prices in a classic combination that wins wearers worldwide.
The Hong Kong footwear industry is adept at meeting the diverse needs of different international markets, its subtle blend of all these elements keeping it ahead of the global competition.
For example, Solidfirm (Asia) Int'l Ltd's designers create styles for all ages from the finest materials, both natural and man-made, although the company focuses on ladies' fashion shoes.
"European customers tend to demand traditional, classic styles, while the most fashionable designs are requested by South African customers," sales executive Sonia Chan explains, adding that the North American market has "no particular preference".
Solidfirm has its own Jasmine brand, but customers are welcome to provide their own designs for the 600-worker factory in Guangzhou on the Chinese mainland. "Minimum orders can be as low as 1,000 pairs per style and can be delivered five weeks from order confirmation," Chan adds.
Currently popular is Solidfirm's high-heeled, knee-length boot range that includes model 3310, a synthetic PU boot that costs US$8.50 per pair FOB Hong Kong, and model 3400, a brushed PU boot available for around US$9.50 per pair.
Top-quality workmanship is also a priority for Comfort Star Footwear Ltd, according to manager Eric Tong. "Good workmanship is especially important when making babies' and children's booties, as they are so small," Tong notes.
"Regardless of the materials used in construction, safety and comfort are the main priorities and we continually lab-test our products in order to maintain ISO 9001 certification."
The two-year-old company employs 3,000 workers at eight factories in the mainland's Guangdong Province, which together produce some 150,000 pairs of babies', children's and ladies' shoes per month.
Typical of Comfort Star's line is model H65-424, a child's bootie sporting gold metallic PU uppers, which, depending on size, falls within the US$4.30-5.00 FOB Hong Kong per pair price range.
"The gold colour is made from a special foil," Tong explains, adding that another popular child's model is K65-621, featuring micro-suede and fur-like EVA uppers, that costs US$3.90-4.50 per pair. "It looks like suede, but is finer and more comfortable."
The company's traditional markets include Europe, North America and South Africa. "We are keen to break into both the Eastern European and the Australian markets," Tong reveals, adding that Comfort Star is constantly experimenting with new materials in order to be able to offer a wider range of styles.
Men's leather footwear is the focus of Nison Trading Co, which has been steadily exporting the output from its mainland factory in Dongguan to Europe, Canada and Australia since 1997.
The company's 150 workers craft leather products that are both stylish and classic, such as the lace and slip-on ankle boots that are one of Nison's most popular styles according to owner Ng Yee Man. "We use 80% cow leather in our men's footwear and require minimum orders of 1,000 pairs that are delivered within 45 working days of order confirmation," he adds.
Lailink (HK) Ltd, meanwhile, prefers to use goat skin in its extensive range of footwear for all genders. "Goat skin is thinner than cow's skin, allowing us to make a more elegant-looking boot," claims sales manageress Jenny Chan, adding that "sheep's skin is also very popular in the Australian market as it is so soft."
The seven-year-old company's footwear is also attractively priced, with its ladies' boot models XLGO680-103 and XLC4013-3 available in minimum order quantities of only 100 pairs at US$35.70 and US$33.40 per pair FOB Hong Kong respectively. "Customers are welcome to submit their own designs," Chan adds, admitting that the firm is very keen to expand business in Europe for both its men's and ladies' ranges.
Longer-established OEM counterpart Hop Yuen Int'l Trading Co Ltd has been supplying footwear to Europe using only German cow leather in the uppers for some 15 years.
"We manufacture at a seven-floor, 200-worker factory on the mainland that can produce 5,000 pairs a month," explains manager Fanny Wong. "Our minimum order requirement is 2,500 pairs delivered 45-60 days after order confirmation."
Finally, leather boot specialist Eastwood Int'l Ltd is happy to produce buyers' own designs at its 2,000-square-metre, 300-worker factory in Jiangsu Province, according to director K.M. Hung.
"As well as being a popular fashion accessory, our military jungle boots such as model JB-38025 are very popular in certain African countries as standard government issue," he claims.
This particular model costs US$14 per pair FOB Shanghai, while the rugged AI-197 safety boot, which conforms to all current European safety standards, is available at US$15.50 per pair.
Always tracking global trends and offering fashion-savvy buyers cost-effective solutions, Hong Kong boot and footwear manufacturers are literally strides ahead when it comes to quality, service and value.
TEXT BY DAVID MOORE
Comfort Star Footwear Ltd
Unit 7, 22/F
Wang Cheong Enterprises Centre
65-69 Chai Wan Kok St
Tsuen Wan, New Territories
Eastwood Int'l Ltd
Rm 1206, Golden ERA Plaza
39-55 Sai Yee St
Mong Kok, Kowloon
Hop Yuen Int'l Trading Co Ltd
Rm 610, Blk A, Sun Fung Centre
88 Kwok Shui Rd
Tsuen Wan, New Territories
Lailink (HK) Ltd
Rm 1304, Premier Centre
20 Cheung Shun St
Cheung Sha Wan, Kowloon