11 Feb 2004
Trailwear(HKTDC Fashion - Footwear, Vol 01,2004)
Vol 1, 2004
Men's Casual Shoes
Hitting The High School
Ironsteel Worldwide Ltd's waterproof hikers are made with sympatex lining and vibram outsoles for walking in all kinds of weather and terrain
These days hiking shoes and boots not only have to be sturdy and practical, they also need to be available in a wide variety of good-looking styles at the right price.
This can be a real challenge, but one that several Hong Kong shoemakers such as Ironsteel Worldwide Ltd have met successfully with their varied trailwear ranges.
Ironsteel concentrates on providing waterproof styles and has nearly 100 designs in unisex adult trailwear. "About 70% of our range is waterproof, and more than half are made using sympatex uppers," says director Sam Ng.
He stresses "it's very important" that Ironsteel uses top quality materials to make sure its products are waterproof.
"We source genuine cow leather from the US, Korea, Taiwan and New Zealand, and buy our vibram outsoles from Italy and our sympatex waterproof membranes from Germany."
The company's most recent trailwear items include a waterproof hiker with sympatex lining and vibram outsole; a wolverine water-repellent leather hiker with vibram outsole; and a hiker with phylon rubber outsole.
Ironsteel's general hiking shoes meet the QAS standard for Australia and New Zealand, and the company has recently developed a new range of hiking shoes that meet the EN345-1 safety standard and also boast CE markings.
"This series comes with steel toe caps and insoles and is antistatic and waterproof," Ng explains. "It is aimed at the younger market, which is always looking for new designs and features."
All Ironsteel's footwear is made in its 800-worker factory in Dongguan on the Chinese mainland, which produces about 40,000 pairs of shoes and boots per month.
The company's minimum order size is 500 pairs per style per colour, which are available at FOB Hong Kong prices ranging from US$18-40 per pair.
While the vast majority of the factory's output is shipped from Hong Kong to customers in Australia, Malaysia and Europe, shipping can be arranged from mainland ports.
Ironsteel is planning to expand into the children's trailwear market, and its new ranges will be ready for delivery from August 2004. "We are applying the same technical functions and use of high quality materials in the kids' styles as we do for the adults," notes Ng.
Europe is also an important market for Forum Footwear Co, which exports a combination of low- and high-cut hikers in UK sizes 0-12 to various countries, including Sweden and Germany as well as Israel, Australia, the US and the Philippines.
Manufacturing takes place in factories in Fujian and Guangdong provinces on the Chinese mainland, which produce minimum orders of 1,000 pairs per style per colour delivered 45 days after an order is confirmed.
Forum's prices fall in the mid-market range, with a low-cut hiker costing US$5.80 and high-cut versions selling for US$5.80-12.80. All prices are for men's shoes and are FOB the Chinese mainland.
"Our prices may be middle market, but we provide high quality products and good customer service," claims manager Eddie Leung. He points out that Forum Footwear uses cow and buffalo leather for its trailwear uppers. "We also use microfibre and some waterproof materials."
The same care and commitment in selecting materials is evident at Jumbo Holdings Development Ltd, which produces various types of sports and casual footwear and both low- and high-cut hiking shoes. Jumbo's trailwear is created by an in-house design team --- although it also manufactures client designs --- and is available in European sizes 35-40 for women and 40-45 for men.
Sales representative Ruby Chau says the company makes trailwear to suit different budgets depending on the materials used. "For high-end budgets we use leather from Korea, but if the client wants to spend less we can use leather or PU sourced from the mainland," she adds. "Whatever the budget, our quality is good --- our factory has ISO 9001 certification."
Jumbo Holdings produces approximately 150,000 pairs of shoes per month in its 33,600-square-metre, 1,500-worker factory in Dongguan. The minimum order quantity is 1,000 pairs per style and colour, and delivery takes about 45 days from the time an order is confirmed. "Most of our customers are in Europe and the US, with our larger markets in Turkey, Italy and Greece," explains Chau.
The Mediterranean also looms large as an export market for Kong Cheong Int'l Trading Ltd, which has major customers in Malta although its main overseas sales destination is Europe in general and Ireland in particular.
Kong Cheong's in-house design team develops 10-15 new trailwear styles each season using long-lasting nubuck or nubuck and nylon for its uppers and PU injection, sometimes combined with rubber, for the outsoles.
Based in the company's 500-worker mainland factory in Guangzhou, the design team focuses on creating low-to-mid price shoes and boots, according to customer service officer Zoe Wong.
"Our pricing is competitive, and we are a reliable company to deal with," she claims. "We have a minimum order quantity of 500 pairs per colour per style, and delivery takes 45-60 days after order confirmation."
So whatever consumers worldwide need --- men's, women's, children's, high- or low-end trailwear --- Hong Kong footwear companies will make sure that the hiking shoe fits.
Written by Caroline Biebuyck
Tai Int'l (Far East) Co
Flat E, 14/F
1 Capevale Drive
Ironsteel Worldwide Ltd
49 Hoi Yuen Rd
Kwun Tong, Kowloon
Holdings Development Ltd
Laurels Ind Centre
32 Tai Yau St
San Po Kong, Kowloon
Kong Cheong Int'l Trading Ltd
Rms 12-14, 6/F
Trans Asia Centre
18 Kin Hong St
Kwai Chung, New Territories
Man Cheong (Chong's) Int'l Investment Ltd
9/F, Tai Lee Bldg
165-167 Pei Ho St
Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
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