A family-run knitting factory in Dongguan
This company is one of my go-to partners for art- and skilfully made knitwear, whatever the fabric. They are able to custom-make yarn in just about any conceivable colour for us. In their storage facility, they keep all of our yarns for possible use in future collections.
The factory was initially located in an old, industrial Hong Kong highrise, but is now situated on the outskirts of the southern Chinese city of Dongguan, several hours from Hong Kong. In the beginning, more than 20 years ago, much of the work was done using hand knitting machines that required a worker to move the knitting head manually. These processes are now automated, and hand knitting machines have made way for their computer-operated counterparts. This has required substantial investments, as the machines each cost about $100,000.
When we visited the factory in 2018, they were in the middle of manufacturing our striped cardigan (as you can see in the video with Annie). We were met with cheeriness everywhere. People always appreciate being able to put a face with the name behind the orders. We make twice-annual visits to the factory or the company’s Hong Kong showroom. The factory’s large windows face green meadows with lush banana trees. Tables and benches stand ready for people to take breaks and eat their lunches. Given the subtropical climate in this part of southern China, it can get very hot in the summers.
1. Åsa and Annie are inspecting a large knitted cardigan that is about to be washed and shrunk to the right size.
2. The fully computer-operated knitting machines produce no more than ten garments each on an eight-hour workday.
3. Necklines and other trims are HAND-CROCHETED. The factory has people specially employed to hand-crochet, and in some cases hand-embroider, our pieces.
4. BUNDLES of knitted cactus-cardigan panels are waiting to be linked.
5. A LARGE WASHING MACHINE is used to wash and shrink the knitwear.
6. WARNING SIGN – I believe it says “Wear gloves!” on the sign.
7. THE WASTEWATER TREATMENT FACILITY is fascinating. The factory is certified and has therefore had government cameras installed to ensure compliance with relevant regulations. That’s modern technology for you! The water is treated with enzymes. 50% of it is fed back into the factory’s system while the rest passes through government-built water pipes for further treatment. The sludge that remains at the end of the process can for instance be used as tarmac.
8. Is that DHL delivering one of our parcels?
9. AT THE END of our visit, we had to take a group photo of course.
From left to right: Ming (daughter of the family, head of sales and part owner), Carina (our head of purchasing), Annie (our deputy CEO, visiting China for the first time), Gudrun, and John (founder and part owner of JM factory). The factory employs a total of 48 people. Åsa (our knitwear purchaser) was behind the camera on this fine November day in 2018. It was a wonderful trip and a delightful reunion with the lovely N’g family!