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Children's pants: Makers move toward direct exporting

More companies are applying for licenses to ship products abroad, improving capability to prepare for this endeavor.

China suppliers of children denim garments are revising their business strategies as part of efforts to bolster competitiveness and sustain viability. This comes as buyers purchasing habits continue to shift amid the global economy slow recovery.

Many clients, for instance, now prefer purchasing straight from manufacturers because it is more cost-efficient. Taking this trend into consideration, companies that usually course shipments through trading agencies are finding ways to eliminate the need for middlemen.

Children's pants
  Decorated with embroidery, this jumper dress from Quanzhou Taipeng is made of 10oz pure cotton denim.
Being able to transact directly with buyers is actually an advantage for makers. The commissions typically paid to intermediaries, for instance, can be allocated for other expenses. Likewise, businesses benefit from the tax rebates, which are normally given to the agents.

Consequently, suppliers are ramping up capability and strengthening customer relations. In line with these endeavors, more training is provided to enhance the technical and communication skills of employees. Additionally, manufacturers are improving salary packages to attract experienced migrant workers.

Businesses are also increasing participation in international trade shows to boost company and product exposure. Further, they are utilizing the Internet as a tool for promoting releases.

To remain profitable, several makers are developing their domestic market base in spite of keen competition. Others are opting to reinforce ties with long-term clients because the risk of bad debt is lower.

Suppliers that are open to securing new contracts minimize their vulnerability to losses by accepting payments via L/C.

Products & prices
Products & prices

Makers of children denim garments in mainland China offer various styles of jackets, dresses, skirts, shorts and pants. The last currently enjoys the highest demand and accounts for 80 percent of the industry output.

R&D in most companies is focused on improved construction. The latest pants, for example, consist of more than two pieces of fabric to match the curve of the hip and the legs better. Color-contrasting thread is used for the stitches to enhance visual appeal. Belts and other accessories are sometimes included with the products.

Prices depend largely on the type of fabric used. Models that come in pure cotton denim, for instance, are usually less expensive than those with a spandex blend.

Textiles are often procured locally, with Guangdong and Jiangsu provinces as the main sourcing locations. For upscale releases, however, makers prefer to adopt versions from Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.

Suppliers employ denim fabrics with a weight of 6 to 10oz, depending on the kind of garment to be produced. Heavier types are typically adopted for shorts and pants.

Trimming, washes and finishes also affect quotes. The value increases as more decorations and treatments are applied. Embellishments come in the form of beads, sequins, rhinestones, embroidery and patchwork. Common washes include enzyme, stone, bleach and monkey.

The clothes undergo sandblasting, tinting, tucking, grinding or handsanding to achieve a vintage or worn-out look. Many designs also have whiskers and crinkled effects.

Models for the low-end are made of pure cotton denim weighing 6 or 8oz. They can have one or a combination of two or three washes and finishes. Upscale products often come in both light- and heavyweight textiles blended with 5 to 10 percent spandex. Organic fibers are used occasionally.

Denim jackets are priced at $3 to $18, while dresses begin at $3.50 and reach $18. Skirts and shorts range from $2 to $13, and pants can go as high as $15.

Most businesses plan to keep quotes at current levels in coming months, although material costs have been going up recently. Cotton, for example, increased 15 percent to $4.40 per kilogram in 2Q09.

There are more than 2,000 makers of children denim garments in China, the majority of which are privately owned. Few companies specialize in the line. Most offer knitted and woven apparel for all age groups.

OEM orders account for at least 80 percent of the country exports. Midrange releases dominate output. They are sent to the US and the EU. Designs for the low end go primarily to the Middle East.

Suppliers are mainly based in Fujian, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. Those in the first area offer clothing in sets such as jackets or jeans with T-shirts.

Backed by flourishing auxiliary industries, Jiangsu and Zhejiang makers boast years of experience in denim garments production. Fabrics, yarns and other materials are abundant in these hubs, and can be procured at low costs.

Ninety percent of the manufacturing base consists of small and midsize businesses. The first have a workforce not exceeding 200 and can generate sales of up to $3 million annually. Small factories usually accept orders as low as 300 pieces. Employees often perform multiple tasks, which help in reducing expenses.

Midsize operations are run by 200 to 600 workers, about 20 of whom specialize in pattern making. Yearly revenue reaches $10 million.

Boasting upgraded management systems and production facilities, large enterprises have more than 600 personnel in their payroll. Their sales exceed $10 million.

This article "Children's pants: Makers move toward direct exporting" is originally posted in Global Sources.

Note: All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.

Disclaimer: All product images are provided by the companies interviewed and are for reference purposes only. Those product images featuring products with trademarks, brand names or logos are not intended for sale. We, our affiliates, and our affiliates' respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents or contractors, do not accept and will not have any responsibility or liability for product images (or any part thereof) which infringe on any intellectual property or other rights of a third party.

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