Interview with Matthew Lai

Face2Face
Matthew Lai
Matthew Lai
Executive Director
Tat Fung Textile Co Ltd
Tat Fung Textile Co Ltd

Most of the increase in demand is for rayon and tencel

Tat Fung is a subsidiary company of Panther Textiles Holding, which was established in 1995. It is a fully integrated textile manufacturing company that provides a broad range of high quality services such as ginning, spinning, weaving, denim dyeing, piece dyeing and printing. Matthew Lai, Executive Director, Tat Fung Textile Co Limited, discusses new innovations and sustainable practices adopted at the company.

Please give us a glimpse of the current state of Hong Kong's apparel and textile industry.

There is no industry for textile production in Hong Kong any more. Most textile companies here operate as sales offices or agencies of factories in Mainland China. Hong Kong is an international hub and many of our customers have offices here, which make it a good connecting point in Asia.

For which yarns and blends is demand growing?

Most of the increase in demand is for rayon and tencel.  While demand comes in from all over the world, most of it is from markets in the United States of America and Europe.

Where do you source cotton from?

The cotton we source is from China, Australia, the United States of America, Mexico and Brazil. Tat Fung Textile Company and our holding company, Panther Textiles Holding, are members of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI).

What are the latest trends in denimwear for men and women?

Some of the latest trends we see for men are cargo jeans, denim bomber jackets, and vintage suits with patterns and prints. Vintage jeans, stone washes and oversized jackets are trending more for women.

What are the dyeing techniques and finishes that will dominate in Spring/Summer 2017 in denims and wovens?

We would like to see more sustainable dyeing techniques and finishes being utilised. The traditional indigo dye will continue to dominate, but we currently see new and innovative techniques being launched in the market to reduce the requirements of natural resources and raw materials. Tat Fung Textiles and Panther Textiles Holdings have developed and patented EQUA, a set of sustainable changes in raw materials, spinning, dyeing and finishing, to minimise environmental footprints for a cleaner world. With EQUA, we can reduce total water consumption by 80 per cent, increase production efficiency by 11 per cent and produce products that feel softer and are of enhanced quality.

Which are your major markets for yarns, denims and other woven fabrics?

Our largest markets are Europe and the United States of America, where a variety of customers buy products in woven, denim and print fabrics.

Please share details of the last two fiscal years and your expectations from the next two.

Tat Fung has been growing at double digits for the last two years. We expect the market to slow down, and we have lowered our expectations to single digit growth for the coming two years.

Many brands and retailers deal in denim from recycled fibres and fabrics. Do you plan to introduce anything in this direction?

In our sustainable product series, we are offering a range of products from recycled fibres and fabrics. Some of our latest product developments include use of pre-consumer recycled fabrics. In this process, leftover and waste fabrics are returned to fibre to be spun into new products. We also offer Repreve from recycled plastic in our more sustainable products.

What are the latest innovations at Tat Fung Textile in spinning, weaving, dyeing, and printing?

Low-twist yarn is one of our latest innovations in spinning. By spinning low-twist yarn, we have increased production efficiency by 11 per cent, while saving 13 per cent of electricity consumption in the spinning process. The low-twist yarn also gives the fabric a softer feel and makes the finished product more comfortable. In addition, we also offer DualFX yarn products.

Our latest innovation in dyeing is a more environmentally friendly alternative to the traditional indigo dyeing process. By using liquid sulphur, we can reduce water consumption by 50 per cent in the dyeing process. Combining this reduction with our state-of-the-art liquid ammonia finishing process, we can now offer premium denim fabric produced with 80 per cent less water. 

To expand our offering in fabric dye, we also offer a new Eco Denim product series. This process utilises indigo coating, which can be applied to a larger variety of fabric bases with less consumption of water. This innovative technique has brought a range of experimental finishes and treatments to customers.

Published on: 23/11/2016

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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