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Asian Producers Cast Wary Eye Towards China

Chinese apparel and textile firms are boosting production with the lifting of quotas, but concern lingers over further limits on their exports.

NEW YORK — Many of the textile companies showing off their goods to buyers at Innovation Asia last week were also looking over their shoulders at the region’s giant — China.

Sunny Kim, overseas business manager for Dongducheon, South Korea-based Namkwang Textile Co., which specializes in knit fabrics with rayon, said the show was strong with lots of buyers from large vendors.

She said it is a “hard time” for South Korea now, though.

“China is too big,” she said. “Korean exporters and manufacturers should make a higher-quality [product to continue to grow].”

Kim said China, while a threat, doesn’t necessarily provide all the enzyme washes manufacturers want.

“The Chinese market is so cheap,” she said, adding that for her customers, “price is not really important.”

Business has been strong lately, said Anthiya Chang, sales manager at Tai Hus International, of Taipei, Taiwan, which produces lyocell fabrics, as well as polyester and nylon blends.

Tai hasn’t been able to rest on its laurels, though. Customers have been asking the firm to develop new goods, such as fabrics with paper prints.

With China growing dramatically and apparel manufacturers looking for lower prices, firms in Asian countries such as South Korea and Taiwan are placing a premium on innovation as a way to keep customers and grow their businesses.

“As long as we keep it going further and develop new things, we’ll be fine,” said Chang. “We have to create a new way for ourselves.”

Innovation Asia ran Jan. 18-20 at Amuse on West 18th Street in Manhattan and was organized by lyocell maker Tencel. About 800 buyers pored over offerings from 23 mills that use Tencel at the event.