updated 3 Oct 2013, 05:25
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Fri, Jun 15, 2012
China Daily/Asia News Network
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Orders for wedding, evening dresses pile on
by Kang Bing and Zhan Lisheng

Although the global economy remains bearish, demand for wedding and evening dresses is still bullish.

This is evident from the exports of these garments from Chaozhou.

The city, in southern China's Guangdong province, is a leading global supplier of wedding and evening dresses.

Chaozhou's garment and textile exports totaled $367 million last year, up 24 per cent year-on-year.

Exports in the first quarter of this year were worth $76.6 million, up 5.9 per cent on the same period last year, according to the city's foreign trade and economic cooperation bureau.

Wedding and evening dresses account for a whopping 80 per cent of this trade, with the city being responsible for around half of China's exports of these garments.

"Business orders don't worry us, but increased production costs and a shortage of labor do," said Liu Sirong, chairman of Guangdong Jinchao Group Co Ltd.

Jinchao Group is one of the largest makers of wedding and evening dresses in Chaozhou and even in China. Its products have found a ready market in the European Union and the United States.

"To tell you the truth, orders for wedding and evening dresses have kept flooding in over the past few months of this year. We have had to turn down many of them for fear of failing to fulfill the contracts," he said.

Jinchao Group accepted overseas orders worth US$17 million (S$21.73 million) between January and May this year, which Liu said was a slight increase compared with the same period last year.

Its total exports of wedding and evening dresses were worth US$16.74 million between January and May, and were worth US$38.7 million last year.

"We really haven't felt any side-effects of the world's economic turbulence and our production has always been at full load in the past few years," said Liu.

"Perhaps more and more young people in Western countries choose to get married when the economic situation is not so rosy."

According to Cai Peiqiang, an official with the city's economy and information bureau, big companies may have benefited from the orders that should have gone to less competitive enterprises if the latter had not closed amid the global economic recession.

"We hope we can have more workers in place so that we can take better advantage of the business opportunities," Liu said.

Guangdong Jinchao Group has more than 600 sets of equipment for the production of wedding and evening dresses, and it is capable of producing 350,000 of such dresses annually.

However, the company needs to increase its workforce by at least 10 per cent to meet the demand from overseas orders, not to mention the domestic market.

More than 90 per cent of the firm's garments are sold overseas.

Liu said that wedding and evening dresses made in Chaozhou are popular at home and abroad.

He explained this was because local dressmakers attach great importance to the design of the dresses.

Liu's company has a design team of more than 100 professionals, and his company works very closely with design agencies in Europe and the United States. The company generally budgets 1.5 per cent of its annual gross revenue for design work.

Another reason for the popularity of dresses from Chaozhou is that the city has a very long tradition of embroidery, which dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), he added.

"Chaozhou embroidery has gained a fine reputation in China and abroad, especially in Southeast Asian countries," said Kang Huifang, an officially recognized master of Chaozhou embroidery.

"Our embroidery makes wedding and evening dresses even more alluring when it is integrated with international styles," she added.

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