6 Feb 2008
Style Sells(HKTDC Fashion - Footwear, Vol 01,2008)
|China Island Enterprises Ltd's latest range of vulcanised canvas shoes includes basic white and printed models and a funky sequined lace-up version (centre)|
Whether cotton or canvas, worn for lounging around or looking good, fabric shoes are always in fashion
They really come into their own during the hot summer months, but fabric shoes maintain a loyal and devoted worldwide following throughout the year.
Lately, says China Island Enterprises Ltd Director Vicky Wong, European markets have been showing intense interest in non-leather alternatives.
The company produces a full range of comfortable, casual shoes for men, women and children, and Ms Wong says demand is increasing.
"Our canvas shoes come in some simple and basic designs, and the market right now in Europe is very hot," she says, adding that as a result it's not easy for new customers to gain production space and minimum order time is three months. "The US market is 'so-so' at the moment because of duties on imported goods, but even there our shoes are proving popular against expensive brand names."
The sheer simplicity of China Island's basic white vulcanised canvas shoes (A305-4822L-1) ensures they are always a favourite with buyers, while the attractive US$1.80 FOB China unit price is an added lure.
Ms Wong says a special new addition to the ladies' range this year is a sequined lace-up model in a variety of patterns and colours (C435-4936L).
"We are well established and conscious of our customers' demands, and provide a computerised colour and style selection service to save them time," she explains. "We also provide an independent factory inspection team to ensure that our customer demands are being met precisely."
Big John Industrial Ltd also prides itself on keeping tabs on the latest designs and providing clients with the latest market trends, according to Sales Manager Florence Lam. "Traditional men's and women's casual shoes are specialties, and the European market is the focus for manufacturers and clients," she maintains.
Ms Lam cites a pointed, women's lace-up sneaker (FC1636) with trendy lines and an ankle lace-up style as a proven favourite, but this year she says women's ballerina models are "a must" in Europe.
"They are a low-cut, lace-less adaptation of the men's style shoe, very casual and very lightweight, and proving very popular," she observes, noting that unit prices start at about US$3.50 FOB Hong Kong. "This season, also watch out for shaded PU sneakers."
She says Big John's Hong Kong design team is "always looking for something new" and regularly hunts through magazines and big-brand shops to keep on top of the latest designs. "Our advantages are being very quality-conscious, and flexible enough to let our customers order less than the minimum requirements," Ms Lam claims.
Manley Footwear Ltd is equally determined to catch the eye of clients with striking designs such as its cotton ladies' fashion shoes (307-0203) with polka-dot heels.
"This is designed in Hong Kong and shipping to Europe and the US in good quantities," says Director Lina Chan. "It's fashionable and popular and can be worn just about anywhere."
Ms Chan adds that her 28-year-old company makes clients' demands a priority for successful business relationships. "We put lots of hard work into following the client's intentions closely - making shoes is so much more difficult than making garments," she observes.
Unlike a T-shirt, Ms Chan explains, a shoe is no good if its lines are too big or long. "We provide fashionable products that meet specifications precisely, and we are just as precise with delivery demands," she insists.
"The demands of clients who often sell in small numbers over large distribution areas must be met - imagine the consequences for them if we do not get it right."
Getting it right is of paramount importance for Lavatex Apparel, whose clients include such prestigious global brands as Clarks, Hush Puppies, Cica and Oshkosh.
The company was originally established as an apparel manufacturer in 1989 and switched to shoes 12 years ago, specialising in babies', children's and ladies' footwear.
Merchandising Manager Iris Luk says fabric lines have always been popular with kids. "The LAX series offers a wide array of print designs on fabric, all with comfortable rubber soles," she explains.
The company's canvas elastic lace shoe (LAX-01) features cotton canvas fabric with print design, Visa terry lining and elastic laces, plus one hook-and-loop strap.
Also popular is Lavatex's striped canvas lace-up shoe with a heavy twill fabric with yarn-dyed stripes and cotton canvas lining in a solid colour, while LAX models that have options for lace-up, hook-and-loop straps or a combination of both start at around US$6 FOB Hong Kong per pair.
"Our company concentrates on footwear in the mid- to high-end of the market, and we provide professional service as well as reliable delivery," Ms Luk says, noting that Lavatex products are "mainly" marketed to the US, Australia, France, Italy, Belgium, Spain and the UK.
"When you're dealing with children's feet it's especially important to have good quality and comfort, and our clients appreciate our ability to cater to their design choices while delivering that quality."
Style sells as much for children as it does for adults, a fact which ensures that Hong Kong fabric shoe manufacturers show the rest of the shoe world a clean pair of heels.
TEXT BY JOHN CHURCH
Year Established: 1998
Year Established: 1992
Year Established: 1997
Year Established: 1989
|Manley Footwear Ltd
Flat B, 8/F, Hong Kong Spinners Ind Bldg
818 Cheung Sha Wan Rd, Lai Chi Kwok Kowloon
|Year Established: 1980
Major Product Categories: ladies' shoes, sandals, boots, sports shoes
Brands & Certificates: -
Minimum Order: 3,000 pairs per style
Monthly Production Capacity:100,000-150,000 pairs
Delivery Time: 45-60 days
Factory Size & Location: 50,000 square metres
Year Established: 1968