Producing in China
At nu-in, we believe that we can achieve our mission only through collaboration. We’ve partnered with some incredible people and factories around the world and we want to openly share who they are, what they do and why we have partnered with them. Total transparency is part of our DNA and today we’re launching the story of our partner Chenk Kung in China.
Hopefully, in the not so distant future when the world isn’t in the midst of a global pandemic anymore, we will explore our factories and take you along the journey like we have with our other factories in Portugal.
Producing in China isn’t new for us, our founder and CEO Mike lived in China for seven years where he built his own factory servicing some of the largest fashion brands in the world. With first hand experience being surrounded by the wonderful and talented people we want to shine a light on why we have chosen Cheng Kung as the best partner for us to produce our outerwear.
WHY AND HOW CHINA
With the cold season approaching we want to provide you with sustainable, functional outerwear. China, nowadays, is leading the world in manufacturing high quality, functional outerwear. Over many years manufacturers have advanced their knowledge and skill sets to the highest level when it comes to technical outerwear.
It takes years of experience to learn how to manufacture high quality, functional outerwear and when combining that with sustainability it becomes even more complex. So we researched, and found the best possible factories and people we could partner with.
CHENG KUNG GARMENTS
Cheng Kung garments is an experienced family business with over 45 years in the fashion industry. The parents of the CEO Vincent Djen founded it. Vincent is a prolific advocate for sustainable manufacturing and is constantly striving to push boundaries to new levels.
Cheng Kung Garments have factories working for us in the following locations:
A family owned factory founded in 1980 which specialises in outwear. Since it is family owned, they have grown over time with their workers and created a real family atmosphere amongst the 365 employees. In 2018, they started a programme to reuse recycled polyester waste (off cuts) which is spun into a new yarn to make new fabrics from. The company is extensively certified for BSCI, ISO9001, GRS, RWS and RDS and offers large benefits for its workers.
Founded in 1979 is also family run and one of the few remaining factories still in play in Shanghai. They have the highest wages of all Cheng Kung factories.
CHENG KUNG SHENZHEN
Founded in 1995. It employs 90 people and has a focus on new equipment and machinery for leading quality and productivity. In the second half of 2020 they are starting on projects to evaluate and compensate their carbon footprint.
The factory profiles are as follows:
Unfortunately in many parts of the western world there is a stigma that comes with producing in China. This is something we want to shine a light on in an interview with Vincent the owner of Cheng Kung
AN INTERVIEW WITH VINCENT
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Hong Kong, got my highschool and university education in Canada and the US, and now living with my family in Shanghai for 15 years. I got some engineering blood in me as we got lots of engineers in my family, so I like to try new things, take things apart to see how things work, and make something new. Producing clothes is my main business but I also have some other startups that focus on providing solutions to textile and plastic waste, and coaching and mentoring fashion startups.
What drives you and what are you passionate about?
I think what drives me is my curiosity to try and solve problems. It was a coach of mine, Bill Bishop and his book that inspired me to dig deeper and learn more. The more I learned the more I found it interesting and room for improvements. I’m passionate about finding new innovations and working on new ideas in the industry. Like I had experimented in how 3D printing can be used in our industry as I even printed a Zipper in TPE material, printing 3D patterns directly on fabrics and also other unique details.
You have pursued sustainability as main business model why is that?
I think sustainability is a natural evolution of the manufacturing and business model as humanity continues to evolve. It is something that we have to do for the future, it is challenging because sustainability is still evolving and we need to keep learning, trying, and improving.
How are you thinking about sustainability within your factories?
It's a big task and we are trying to improve things constantly, like investing in newer more efficient machines and creating more comfortable working environments. We are now exploring how to install solar panels to provide our energy. We are also recycling some of our polyester textile waste into recycled polyester.
China is regarded as a highly polluted country with low environmental standards?
Through its History this could be deemed correct, but in recent years China has invested heavily into sustainability. We are the world's biggest investors into Green energy and sustainable manufacturing. We have implemented strong environmental laws in recent years to help protect the environment.
How do you value your employees?
Our employees are the greatest assets of our company and we always treat them with the highest respect and that’s why they like to stay with us for a long-term. Many of our employees have been with us for over 10 years.
China is the country with the largest carbon footprint in the world. Does that worry you?
When you look at the footprint per capita compared to Europe or USA, China comes out on top. Of course as a country with almost 1.4 billion people and the biggest economy in the world on pure numbers its high, but if you compare on a per capita number we are still lower than Europe and U.S. Most importantly we have stopped the increase and invested highly in efficiency and regenerative energy. China has promised to become climate neutral until 2060. That is a bold moonshot for a country of our size..
How do you transport sustainably?
Most of the transportation is done by ship to Europe and U.S. For NU-IN we use the train connection to Hamburg. Almost 10.000km by train having a 50% lower carbon footprint than ship transportation. Most of our raw materials and fabrics are sourced locally and are within short distance to our factories as well
How does China inspire entrepreneurship?
China is a hotbed for entrepreneurship! I have close entrepreneur friends that started off as construction workers or factory workers and then go on to create very good businesses and send their kids to college. Nowadays there are many incubators, accelerators, startup fundings, tax incentives etc. available for entrepreneurs in many cities. We heavily invest into education and research in China. China is on the way to become one of the leading innovative countries in the world.
What is the minimum wage in China?
The minimum wage ranges from $280 - $380 depending on the area in China.
More important than the minimum wage is the actual wage level which is far higher because of the demand for skilled workers. We always pay best to retain good, talented people. It is unbelievable how wages have developed in China. The China of today is almost incomparable to 1990 when my parents ran the company. It is an incredible achievement we have made in the country to raise income and end the poverty in this country. Something I’m proud of being part of. I don’t regard higher wages as costs, I regard them as investment in better quality and higher productivity.
What does your company do to make sure people stay with your company?
We are a 45 year old company and we keep a tradition of trust and good payments with additional benefits for our workers. That’s why people like to work with us because we have gained trust from them. Our clients have also been with us for a long time, many for 10 years and some over 20 years.
And here is some data and facts that Vincent supplied us with:
Share of the population living extreme poverty, 1990 to 2015:
Per capita CO2 emission:
China takes the lead of renewables:
World's 60 most innovative economy:
Factory Image Gallery