Buying Fabric from China

When buying fabric from China, we hear the same request over and over again - please make sure the fabric is safe and Azo free. This certainly doesn't sound like an unreasonable request - our customers need to buy safe materials and prefer to buy with confidence from a supplier who can provide certificates for each material. Ahh, what a Utopian dream....

Unfortunately I am sad to report that more often than not this is simply not the reality. A world where suppliers keep a never ending range of hundreds or thousands of materials in stock is just not practical. And that they might have paid to safety test and certify each one in anticipation of our request for a purple spotted 'strokable' fabric for our latest, cutest koala's inner ear, is equally unfeasible.

Sourcing Material from Sham Shui Po Market

With markets like Sham Shui Po on their doorstep in Hong Kong offering up a vast array of fabrics and materials in varieties the mind can barely conceive, factories have access to a never ending supply of the latest materials.


Sham Shui Po market covers two main areas - electronics and fabrics. The fabrics market is a chaotic and exciting area, a haven for fashion designers who rummage through the wholesale fabrics in search of the next big thing. Crafters are in their element with ribbons and swatches and beads and zips all in a thousand different colours shapes and sizes. This crafters blog captures the excitement of a first time visitor immersed in the chaos and excitement of a trip to Sham Shui Po.

The vast range on offer means that usually you can find what you are looking for - often you can find something even better! The prices are good and you can easily assess the quality yourself with the goods on display before your very eyes. The 2 main issues tend instead to be safety and longevity. These fabrics will not come with safety certificates and the testing will therefore rest on your shoulders with no come back if they should fail. There is also the very real issue that whilst a fabric may be available in abundance today, what happens in 18 months time when you want to reprint? There is a very real chance that your material will no longer be around.


Buying safely from Sham Shui Po

So what can you do about this? The Azo dye and any other tests such as wash test, will just have to be done - there is no other way. However these tests can be done in advance of buying the bulk material and the costs are pretty minimal. Keep an eye out for darker colours which can be packed full of azos - a black material is far more likely to be a concern than a pastel or creamy colour. And when 18 months down the line you want to reprint and discover your fabric is no longer in stock - well you can rest assured that in amongst the streets and alleys you will inevitably find something very similar and possibly better than before!


 And if you look really hard, behind the last roll of pink nylon and just before the green silk, you might be lucky and spot an Imago dragonfly rummaging about seeking out that perfect, strokable, purple spotty fabric that is just right for your cute koala's inner ear.  



Julia.jpg @JuliaimagoUK