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Well-Heeled (HKTDC Fashion - Footwear, Vol 02,1999)

Vol 2

- Ladies' Dress Shoes

Style Bonanza
- Boots

Pint-Sized Steps
- Children's Casual Shoes

Right On The Ball
- Ball Game Sports Shoes

Ladies' Dress Shoes

FOOTWEAR manufacturers' use of innovative designs and a wide range of leather, fabric and synthetic materials is helping to boost Hong Kong's footwear industry.

According to Top Sun Mfg Co Ltd, its comfort pumps -- such as a low-heeled navy-blue imitation crocodile PVC model with pigskin lining, TPR outsole and light ABS heel, priced at US$6.55 a pair FOB Hong Kong -- are selling well in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Denmark, Finland and Belgium.

The firm uses leather and synthetic materials from Europe, Taiwan and mainland China to produce its range of footwear. Top Sun manufactures at a 200,000-square-foot factory in Dongguan, on the mainland, employing 1,000 workers, and at another 8,500-square-foot factory in Hong Kong with about 30 workers. It set up the Hong Kong factory to take advantage of the SAR's quota-free status for footwear exports to Europe, unlike the mainland, which is subject to footwear quotas.

"We employ one person in Hong Kong for quality control and 10 more in [mainland] China for the same task," says director Patrick Fung.

Founded in 1989, Top Sun produces 120,000 pairs of various styles every month. Minimum order is 1,200 pairs of shoes per style, for delivery within 90 days after order confirmation. The firm produces under the brand name Bella Rosa, as well as customers' brands.

Pacific Link Footwear Ltd, in the business since 1987, subcontracts production of ladies' fashion shoes to a number of factories in mainland China and sells them to Asian markets such as the mainland and Vietnam. Black high-heeled sandals feature thin straps and satin uppers, while pewter-colour sandals have PU uppers and low heels.

The firm has its own designers and quality controllers for its line, sold under the brand name Nicole. Materials such as leather, PU, PVC and fabrics are sourced from Europe, the US, South America, India, Pakistan and the mainland.

"We accept a minimum order of 1,000 pairs per colour," says managing director Steve Loeb. Delivery depends on how busy the company's contracted factories are and could take up to four months during peak season.

Pacific Link's parent company, which manufactures footwear in Brazil for export to the US, Canada, Italy, Spain and Russia, has more than 100 years' experience in footwear production.

Patty Co Ltd, recipient of the 1997 Hong Kong Award for Industry -- Certificate of Merit in Export Marketing, sells its ladies' footwear on the mainland and in Hong Kong. "We are expanding and are looking for agents in Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore," says managing director Keith Leung.

The seven-year-old company produces 300,000 pairs of shoes monthly at its 3,000-worker factory in Dongguan, on the mainland, and introduces 600-700 styles annually. There is no minimum order, and the firm tailor-makes footwear according to customers' designs, and provides style and design advice when necessary.

Patty Co employs a design team of five and is also supported by design agents in Italy. It produces and markets shoes under the brand names Patty, Patty Basic and G Vani Dat, and others on OEM basis. It has marketing offices in Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing and Dongguan.

Established in 1970, H & M Footwear Ltd specialises in producing ladies' sandals, shoes and boots using leather and PU. Typical prices range from US$7 to more than US$10 a pair, depending on the style, design and material. Its products carry the brand name Dona-lisa and are exported to Denmark, Japan and Australia.

The company, employing 100-150 workers, produces at a 2,000-square-metre factory in Zhongshan, on the mainland. "We produce 30,000 pairs of shoes monthly and will accept a minimum order of 2,500 pairs per colour and per style," says production manager Suki Cheung. Delivery is 75 days after confirmation of order.

Kam Fung Trading (Mfg) Co produces 5,000 pairs of shoes a month, using leather and PVC from Brazil, at its 2,000-square-foot factory in Wai Tung on the mainland. It sells most of its footwear to buyers in Norway.

The company typically sells a pair of shoes for HK$101-180. There is no minimum order and delivery is 30-45 days after order confirmation.

Written by Johnson Wong

Style Bonanza

THE rigours and demands of modern life mean that we need comfort and protection for our feet as well as style. A number of Hong Kong-based companies aim to meet this challenge: offering boots that combine good looks with practicality.

Sparkomax Int'l Ltd has been making boots and shoes since 1985. Manager David Lai says the firm aims to constantly "update our designs [and] improve techniques" to keep pace with an ever-changing market. "We do not make simple boots, we follow the latest styles and develop materials accordingly. Our boots are fashionable and durable," says Lai.

The company's factory is in Shenzhen, mainland China, where two production lines and 600 workers produce at least 80,000 pairs per month. Perhaps in reference to the unique qualities of its products, Sparkomax markets its boots under the brand name Only.

Typical men's boots are made of leather and sell for US$15.50-16.50 per pair FOB Hong Kong, while women's boots are made from either satin or PU and are priced at US$7 per pair. Materials come from Japan and Taiwan. Minimum order is 1,000 pairs, for delivery 60 days after order confirmation.

Wearbest Shoes Fty Ltd has been manufacturing footwear for more than 30 years, specialising in women's and children's shoes. Export manager Eric Tong says the company's longevity can be attributed to an emphasis on putting quality over cheap pricing. "I admit we cannot compete with some [mainland] Chinese companies on price, but our quality is far more stable and satisfactory. Our many existing customers are testament to that," says Tong.

Women's boots with imitation suede uppers sell for US$3.50-5 FOB Hong Kong per pair, while models with leather uppers are priced at US$9-12 per pair. Women's and men's work boots with PVC uppers are US$6-8 per pair, while children's, women's and men's casual boots with action leather uppers sell for US$5.50-8 per pair.

Tong points out that as well as emphasising quality, the company designs its boots to keep abreast "with the latest trendy styles". Wearbest's boots are marketed under the brand name Chariot.

Minimum order is 1,200 pairs per style, but Tong says the company is flexible. "We can consider less for a first order, if it is necessary for our customer," he says. Delivery takes 45-60 days after order confirmation.

Wearbest does most of its manufacturing at its factory in Guangdong, on the mainland, where 300 workers produce about 50,000 pairs of shoes a month.

Qualfoot Co Ltd celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. It manufactures 3,000-5,000 pairs of shoes per day at two factories in Longgang and Dongguan, on the mainland.

It produces a selection of boots with black PU uppers. A model with TPR soles sells for US$7.10 per pair FOB Hong Kong; boots with PVC and wooden soles for US$7.20 per pair; and a model with PU outsoles for US$7.35 per pair.

All materials come from Taiwan. Director Ammon Luk says Qualfoot pays particular attention to "the designs that are popular in Europe". Minimum order is 2,400 pairs per style. The boots are packed 12 pairs to a box. Delivery is 60 days after order confirmation.

Founded in 1992, Eastwood Int'l Ltd specialises in leather boots, for hiking and military use. Director KM Hung says the company exports "highly durable boots in large quantities; to be as cost-effective as possible".

Minimum order is one TEU containing 2,500 pairs, but Hung says Eastwood "mostly exports in 40-foot containers containing 5,000 pairs". "Sometimes we export to African countries, to equip their police forces. We have also provided boots for army use," he adds. Delivery time after order confirmation is 6-8 weeks.

Eastwood's boots are mainly intended for male wearers. Leather work boots are priced at US$11.50 per pair FOB Hong Kong; jungle boots at US$9.50 per pair; leather military boots at US$16.50 per pair; and riding boots at US$15 per pair.

All boots feature soles made of a rubber/ TPR compound, which Hung says is "lighter than other soles, yet harder", to withstand all kinds of conditions. The boots are produced at Eastwood's two factories in Fujian and Shandong provinces, on the mainland, both with 1,000 workers. Production is around 100,000 pairs of footwear per month.

Written by David C. Robinson

Pint-Sized Steps
Children's Casual Shoes

WHEN it comes to shoes, children prefer casual styles. The range of children's footwear from Hong Kong companies provides a good combination of durability and fashion.

Conasia Industries (Hong Kong) Ltd, which has been in the shoe business for more than 20 years, offers a wide range of children's shoes. A pair of attractive slip-on girls' shoes with flower detail (model 30070) sells for US$3.60 FOB Hong Kong for an order of 1,500 pairs, while a pair of burgundy buckled girls' shoes (30105) is priced at US$3.70 per pair.

The company also makes ankle boots (30114 and 30111) that fasten with a zipper or laces, priced at US$3.55 to US$3.60. Casual boots for infants (10006) sell for US$2.85 a pair.

Conasia asks for a minimum quantity of 1,500 pairs per order per colour, and delivers within 45 days upon receipt of order confirmation.

Assistant manager Kobie Yan says the trend in the US, South America and Europe is towards casual shoes that are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Conasia is happy to make to customers' specifications. "New designs are welcome," says Yan.

For trendy nubuck or suede-look shoes, Centennial Chinese Technology Ltd provides a great range of casual and fashion footwear. "In western Europe casual and fashion shoes are very popular," says manager Mei Chow. "Whereas in eastern Europe and the US, casual and jogging shoes are popular."

Black lace-up ankle boots with PU nubuck uppers and thick TPR soles (model C9402) reflect the trend for rugged outdoor-style shoes. Other sports shoes include models with EVA phylon soles and lace or hook-and-loop tape fastening.

Centennial, which employs more than 1,000 workers at its factories in mainland China, also makes footwear to customers' specifications. "We have a strong R&D capacity," says Chow. "We also custom-make moulds for patent designs, which is a new business area for us."

Its main export markets are Poland, the Netherlands, Austria and the US. Centennial delivers in 60 days, for a minimum order of 2,000 pairs per style.

Best Way Footwear Co Ltd exports all styles of footwear, mainly to the US. Its range of children's shoes shows a splash of style and colour, such as its girls' fashion boots with ankle zipper and patchwork design (model 290/821/22), or higher-heeled boots with hook-and-loop tape fastening (299/822/20). Prices range from US$4 to US$6.50 FOB Hong Kong per pair.

The company welcomes special design specifications, taking about 10-15 days to make a new mould. EVA comes from the US and Japan. Delivery takes 45 days, and the minimum order is one TEU.

Article Ltd specialises in children's shoes and offers an assortment of suede, leather and PU nubuck shoes and boots. For trendy colourful unisex models, try the lace-up suede shoe (44/F465), or PU nubuck model (44/F455). Cowhide, suede and PU nubuck come from Taiwan and South Korea.

Models are priced from US$3.20 to US$5.50 FOB Hong Kong. Minimum order is 1,800 pairs per style, for delivery 60 days after order confirmation. Sales manager Bassanio To says it takes two weeks to make a custom design, for which the minimum order is 2,400 pieces.

For slightly older children, the range from Kam Lee Yun Kwok Co Ltd offers up-to-date designs. Boys' leather boots in brown suede with hook-and-loop straps (model LB119SLV) are priced at US$5 FOB Hong Kong per pair.

Footwear for girls include ankle boots with a zipper or hook-and-loop straps, which are priced between US$4.20 and US$4.50 per pair. Many have thick platform soles that are fashionable with teenage girls.

Kam Lee, which has been in business since 1994, exports to Europe and the US, using materials from Taiwan and South Korea. The minimum order is 1,000 pairs per style, with delivery 45 days after receipt of L/C.

Written by Carol Holmes

Right On The Ball
Ball Game Sports Shoes

WE can thank Michael Jordan for turning the humble trainer into a high-powered style item. Where once they were used on the field and then shoved into lockers, these items have become trendy, everyday fashion gear.

Sports, hiking and casual shoe producer Mega Perfect Development Ltd, which has been in the footwear business since 1994, makes heavy-duty basketball shoes with trendy monster soles. Model 5524 basketball shoes (US$7.20 per pair FOB Hong Kong) come with two-inch treads and the pleasing lines of low ankles. Its swirly, lava-lamp patterns in multiple colours give the shoes an arty, urban look.

Says export manager Alex Tsoi: "These days, designs in sports shoes are very similar. We do our own designs, with suggestions sometimes coming from the customers, but we find our clients really focus on quality and cost. But we do very well on those points."

Mega Perfect also makes tennis shoes. Model 1796 (US$5 per pair) features thick, basketball-style soles and the heavy, foamy laces in favour right now. The basic white upper with red and blue styling looks clean and sporty.

Mega Perfect sources materials, such as cow suede and PVC, from Taiwan and mainland China. It manufactures under brand names such as Donnay and Ascot, and finds its main markets in France and Poland. Minimum order is 1,000 pairs, with delivery in 45 days.

Water-Well Footwear (HK) Co Ltd, which targets the US, South American, African and European markets, has put its efforts into fashion-oriented basketball shoes. "Customers like our styling," says spokesperson Iris Lam. "But the main buying points are always price and quality. We focus on this and we get a lot of loyal clients."

The striking W6AO112 model is futuristically styled with a silver base and black "flame-lick" patterns. The TPR sole is a bold combination of yellow, black and white.

The W6950 is a more subdued black-and-white model, with a white PU upper matched with black mesh fabric. The buyer's brand is set in the heel in three-dimensional, opaque green lettering. The shoe has high ankle support.

Water-Well's basketball shoes are in the US$5 per pair price range, FOB Hong Kong. The company requests a minimum order of one TEU, for delivery in 45 days.

Another Hong Kong company in the basketball shoe business is Grander Industrial (HK) Ltd. Model GM6330, made under the Grander label, is a heavy, aggressive-looking shoe in solid colours of red, black and blue.

The GM6678 features black-and-white PU/nubuck upper, padded ankles and heavy-duty TPR soles.

Grander's other shoes also have a similar look -- tough but neat -- with features like heavy soles, padded ankles, thick tongues and restrained design. The price range of models GM6330 and GM6678 with colour box packaging is about US$4.50-5.50 per pair FOB Hong Kong, for men's sizes 40-45.

"We always follow the trend of each season and make new fresh designs for our customers, and we are also very concerned with quality control," says spokesperson Nettie Lee. "We can have a very competitive price because we sell all our shoe products directly from our factory."

Grander manufactures to a minimum order of one TEU, with 30-45 days' delivery time.

Juniper Shoes Fty (China) Ltd makes a range of sports, casual and work footwear, and excels in football shoes. Model JL1409 football boot is a lightweight, stylish boot. The item is black and blue with white speed stripes, and a large, thick tongue protects the foot when striking the ball. Good for gripping the turf, the boot comes with six metal-tipped cleats.

Model JC6027 is nattily designed with a basic black upper styled with neon-green patterns. The boot is light and made with firm rubber cleats. The company will release unit prices to all interested parties.

"We can hit a monthly production of about 40,000 pairs -- our factory has more than 1,100 workers," says director Patrick Fuk. "We manufacture under our customers' own brands."

Juniper exports mainly to South America, Europe and the Middle East. The company asks for minimum order of one TEU, with delivery in 40-50 days.

Written by Jasper Moiseiwitsch

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