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Tapping Trends(HKTDC Fashion - Footwear, Vol 01,2008)

Ladies' & Children's Shoes

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Medium-price ladies' footwear is a speciality of Trendency Footwear Co Ltd

An important year of transition lies ahead for Trendency Footwear Co Ltd, which will boost both its production capacity and its international customer base.

"We will move to a new factory, near our present location but much larger, that is currently under construction," explains Manager Katima Khan, adding that the new factory should be open by August and production will gradually be moved across. "Given our manpower and the proximity of the two, that should be no problem."

The new factory is the latest development in an ongoing success story that began when Trendency was established in Hong Kong in 1977, and continued when it opened its current factory in Dongguan on the Chinese mainland in 1986.

"We have two lines at the moment, but in the new facility we will have the option to run three or four simultaneously, depending on the business," Ms Khan says. "We will have much more flexibility."

Flexibility is clearly important for a company that in just over 30 years has established and nurtured enduring relationships with customers as far afield as Japan, Europe, Australia and the Middle East.

"We specialise in ladies' footwear for the Japan and US markets," Ms Khan says, adding that Europe is not its major market at the moment but it has "some" European customers and also does business in Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines.

"We also make some children's shoes for customers in Australia, which are only a small part of our business but we can make those if they are specially requested."

Trendency operates exclusively as an OEM/ODM supplier for customer brands, and over the years has manufactured licensed products for Barbie, Hello Kitty, Hush Puppies and Bubblegamers branded footwear.

Most of its production consists of ladies' and girls' shoes with either synthetic or leather uppers. "Synthetics account for around 70% of our production, and leather for around 30%," says Ms Khan. "We use PU, fabric and raffia, so sometimes the materials are natural, and source in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan."

Supporting its customer service strengths is a well-proven design capability, with four designers on the factory payroll and steady relationships with a number of creative freelancers in Hong Kong.

"We develop styles for exhibitions, but customers often have their own designs," Ms Khan notes.

She adds that Trendency's sample room is skilled in making new designs, and the company generates them continuously. "Taking into account our own and customers' designs, we are probably working with about 1,000 different models per year," Ms Khan observes.

FOB prices per pair for a minimum order of 240 pairs range from US$6 for synthetic flat shoes to US$20 for leather, high-heeled boots - if the pattern and mould are readily available.

Orders take 45-55 days from confirmation to delivery, Ms Khan says.

"Most customers place relatively small orders and then re-order if there is clearly a demand," she notes.

Trendency's products are in the medium-price range. "We don't do low-end footwear, so we're not usually working with huge bulk," Ms Khan remarks. "Sometimes orders for one style can go on being repeated for as long as two years."

The company's competitiveness stems in part from being able to anticipate trends in the markets in which it is active, and Ms Khan expects that bright colours will be a dominant element in ladies' shoe styles internationally in 2008.

"Women are looking for high heels and multi-coloured and bright-coloured uppers, and I think green and orange will be quite popular this year," she predicts.

However, Ms Khan advises that the Japan market is totally different and most of the designs Trendency produces for that region come from Japanese customers. "Sometimes they are quite conservative, but sometimes it's quite crazy," Ms Khan states. "They have different trends and they change frequently - so much so that customers from other countries go to Japan looking for ideas."

Whatever the region, all Trendency's customers will benefit from its investment in upgrading its computer systems to streamline internal communications and strengthen customer service.

"We compete on service rather than price," Ms Khan stresses. "Our strengths are quick response in sample making, prompt delivery and of course quality, which is why we have relationships with many clients going back quite a few years.

TEXT BY ROBERT PIERCE

Fast Facts

Trendency Footwear Co Ltd
Units 10-11
23/F, New Trend Centre
704 Prince Edward Rd East
San Po Kong
Kowloon
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2323-6690
Fax: 852-2352-5024
Email:
katima@trendency.com.hk
Web: www.trendency.com.hk
Year Established: 1986
Major Product Categories: ladies' and girls' shoes
Brands & Certificates: -
Minimum Order: 240 pairs per style per colour
Monthly Production Capacity: 80,000 pairs
Delivery Time: 30-45 days
Factory Size & Location: Dongguan
Workforce: 350