September 24, 2022
  • September 24, 2022

China’s textile industry boosts green tech, R&D and innovation – WWD

By on May 31, 2022 0

The textile industry in China is the largest in the world in terms of overall production, export and retail, with an output of 58 million tons per year in fiber categories alone, representing more than 50 % of world total; with textiles and apparel exports of $316 billion, accounting for more than a third of global shipments, and a retail scale of over $672 billion, with online retail of approximately 298 .9 billion dollars.

Behind these figures hides the massive supply of the Chinese textile industry. Its success is based on a solid foundation and continuous innovation, the development of new technologies and green strategies, the understanding of global and local industry trends and significant investments in R&D, consumer-oriented customization and production. flexible.

China has ranked as the world’s largest manufacturer for 11 consecutive years since 2010 and is the only country with a major role in all industrial categories. According to data from the Chinese Academy of Engineering, five of China’s 26 manufacturing industries are at the most advanced level in the world, with the textile industry helping to lead the way.

Take Shenzhou International Group Holdings Limited, for example, which operates the world’s largest garment processing facilities, producing around 2 million pieces of ready-to-wear garments per day at its factories in China’s Anhui and Zhejiang provinces. and factories in Southeast Asian countries, making the company a key OEM producer for major sportswear brands globally.

Also located in China’s Zhejiang Province, Keqiao District in the city of Shaoxing is the world’s largest textile industry center with nearly a quarter of the world’s textile products traded here. Last year’s online and offline revenue reached approximately $44.8 billion. And Keqiao is just one of many textile industry clusters in China – in Shandong province, the village of Yaojiapo near the city of Tai’an orders more than 300 tons of fabric every day to make around 160 000 pairs of long johns.

China Keqiao Textile Town
Courtesy

As Sun Huaibin, Vice Chairman and Spokesperson of China’s National Textile and Garment Council, said, “No other country in the world has such a rich, systematic and complete textile industry chain as ours, with upstream supply of raw materials, in particular petrochemicals and agriculture. , and segmented divisions in each textile chain.

From cotton to fiber, from weaving and dyeing to garment production, a garment undergoes hundreds of processes before it reaches the consumer.

Thus, even today, the textile industry is a typical labor-intensive industry. China, as the world’s largest producer of cotton, has a millennial history of textile production and provides the world with a steady supply of cheap, quality garments thanks to its demographic characteristics, strong labor force and the opportunities created by reform and opening-up policies in the late 1970s, and especially China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001. But today the industry also faces challenges, with rising labor and raw material costs and increasing environmental pressure.

So what is the industry’s strategy to stay ahead?

Digital empowerment

In the textile industry, the “number of workers per 10,000 spindles” has been an indicator of the number of employees needed in a spinning mill. More than 30 years ago, the standards were 1,000 in a spinning mill and 10,000 in fabric manufacturing. Today, with modern information technology, big data analytics and modern management tools, only 35 workers are needed for 10,000 spindles.

Digital transformation and modernization have not only greatly improved the efficiency of labor production in smart factories. In the Bosideng warehouse, an intelligent scheduling system can locate a garment in three minutes in a warehouse of 1.5 million boxes of garments, automatically attach a courier slip, and transfer it to the transport vehicle. Warehouse throughput can reach up to one million pieces in a single day, with handling, sorting, distribution, counting and inventory all being done by robots. National sales data on Bosideng’s Big Data platform is refreshed every six seconds, providing real-time market trend analysis. Thanks to the digitalization of warehouses and logistics, Bosideng’s inventory processing time is 175 days shorter than that of its down clothing peers, for example, Canada Goose’s 396 days and Moncler’s 278 days.

Robot arm at Bosidengs

A robotic arm sorts goods at the Bosideng Smart Distribution Center.
Courtesy

In order to keep up with global competition and meet the growing demand for customization, Bosideng has opened up flexible channels for two-way interaction between production and sales through digitalization, so as to be able to accurately target consumer demand and provide accurate marketing services, all measures that helped to increase the value of its brand. Internal optimization and improved management at all levels of purchasing, production, inventory and sales are all achieved through digital innovation across the entire supply chain. This connected all aspects of the supply chain, opened up the processes of initial sale, intermediate inventory and final production outsourcing to meet market demand in the shortest possible time.

Differentiation thanks to R&D

As China’s economic development shifts from high-speed growth to high-quality development, the textile industry is also undergoing tremendous changes.

“With such a huge volume, it is not possible for the Chinese textile industry to accelerate its growth. Therefore, the current way forward is to transform and upgrade, from big to strong,” according to Sun Huaibin.

Widely used in high-grade clothing, home textile fabrics, high-performance filtration materials, clean materials, high-end automotive interiors and other fields, ultrafine fibers have become a key part of the development of industry. Synthetic fibers play a strategic role. According to Li Lingshen, vice president of the China National Textile & Apparel Council and director of the Chinatesta Textile Testing & Certification Service, “Chinese synthetic fiber production accounts for more than 70% of global production. With such a high proportion and wide application, they have become vital for the sustainable development of the entire textile industry as well as for supply chain security and control.

The annual production of Shenghong Group’s microfiber products was about 60% of the global total even before its Fortune 500 listing. others cannot. Sales are better when the added value of products is higher. This year, recycled fiber production capacity will reach 350,000 tonnes, double last year, and demand continues to grow even faster with orders for some products even lining up into the fourth quarter.

shenghong

Shenghong’s annual production of 350,000 tons of recycled fiber is equivalent to a reduction of 6 million tons of CO2 emissions.

Shenghong has invested nearly $15 billion over the past 10 years to open up the upstream and downstream industrial chain of synthetic fibers. It maintains an average annual growth rate of more than 10% in the number of new technology products, and also leads the establishment of a national innovation center for advanced functional fibers.

One of his inventions, the “sea-island ultra-fine fiber”, is only 1/100th of a hair in diameter with an internal distribution of 2,664 monofilaments. The length of only 112 grams of the fiber can be equal to that of the earth’s equator.

Along with microfibers, recycled fibers made from recycled plastic bottles have become the company’s main R&D focus and a source of profit growth. It can produce one ton of recycled polycool fiber from 50,000 recycled PET bottles. Shenghong’s annual output of 350,000 tons of recycled fiber means that about 17.5 billion recycled PET bottles can be processed in one year, which equates to a reduction of about 6 million tons of monoxide emissions. of carbon.

Consumer– centered customization and flexible production

According to Chen Dapeng, Vice Chairman of the National Textile and Garment Council of China and Chairman of the National Garment Association of China, “The entire apparel market in China is estimated at more than 672 billion dollars, with online retail accounting for more than half”. On the one hand, the demands on such a vast market are varied and diversified; on the other hand, the continuous growth of e-commerce requires new models in the textile and clothing industry.

How to meet the diversified and personalized needs of an increasingly affluent consumer? Longsheng Fashion, a company that started as a green leather garment designer and manufacturer, is a key leather garment supplier in European and American markets, with an annual output of more than 1.1 million OEM leather orders. The company pioneered intelligent production and a one-person model, a version for custom clothing, from remote measurement. Most orders come from online, where consumers can simply take photos as needed to identify key data from multiple angles such as waistline, online fabric selection, and style design engagement. .

The same personalization that is possible in d-to-c is possible in B2B. In today’s garment factories, each cut piece is fitted with a different chip, and the assembly line can also be customized on a massive scale. While meeting the diverse needs of consumers, this customization and flexible production have spawned a large number of niche brands, creating an opportunity for China’s textile and apparel industry.

Meanwhile, on the retail side, the popularity of live e-commerce, which has become particularly popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, is also changing the traditional model of the apparel industry from design to production and distribution to retail.

“These new developments in digitalization, networking, computerization and intelligence offer the possibility of customization on a large scale. And the core of live e-commerce is to shorten the distance between producer and consumer and provide the consumer with the optimal product in the shortest possible time,” according to Chen Dapeng.

Editor’s Note: China Insight is a monthly column from WWD’s sister publication, WWD China, examining major developments in the key Chinese market.