Have you ever wondered what happens to textile leftovers in China, one of the biggest garment producers and polluters in the world? There are many myths and half-truths about this topic, so we decided to fly in and have a look ourselves.
One of our team members spent two months (October and November 2015) in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing visiting garment manufacturers and textile markets, interviewing fashion designers, academics, and NGO activists asking the same question: What happens to textile leftovers in China.
In HK we were lucky to meet Jo Lau at the respected Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI) and Kay Liu from Redress, a well-known environmental NGO working to reduce waste in the fashion industry.
In Shanghai and Beijing we had a chance to visit a few textile markets, work with a fashion designer and The Squirrelz - one of the best online shops for upcycled goods in China. We also had a chance to visit the Quantumfactory, a clever and environmentally aware garment factory catering to small fashion brands and designers. In addition we looked into some statistics and former research about the use of leftovers from Chinese textile industry.
Without going into details, we were happy to conclude that:
* We found several proof that our solution and approach is something that Chinese textile industry is waiting for.
* While some would argue that all of China's textile leftovers have already found a market and are recycled or sold downstream, in reality the market can be improved a lot more in terms of transparency, better solutions, more materials used reasonably, differentiated price from different materials, etc.
* There are more than 20 000 textile and garment manufacturing companies in China. Around 6000 in Shanghai area and 1000 in Hong Kong. So the workfield in China alone is huge.
We are very grateful to all of our friends in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing who were willing to share their knowledge. We will not forget you!