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China's sock capital transforms from manufacturer to craftsman

(People's Daily Online)    10:51, January 08, 2020

Sock-shaped in area planning, Datang Town in Zhuji City, Zhejiang Province of eastern China, was built to be the only town in the world to focus on sock craftsmanship with such a unique layout.

The town used to be no more than a sock manufacturer, but recently, it delved further into the sock industry, becoming a haven for sock artisans.

A worker checks hosiery machines in a factory in Datang Town. (Photo/Xinhua)

At the end of the 1970s, many farmers in Datang Town worked in the production team during the day and went home at night to knit socks in secret. At that time, one pair of hand-knitted socks could fetch as much money as two days’ work, and the farmers considered knitting a way out of poverty.

During the peak of the town's sock industry, hundreds of thousands of employees gathered here, working for any one of a plethora of companies. Since then, the small town has become known as the sock capital of China.

The output of socks in Datang Town in 2014 exceeded 25.8 billion pairs. It is said that one out of every four pairs of socks in the world comes from the town. However, a large number of local hosiery enterprises, which relied on OEM for a living, were trapped in a vicious circle of severe overcapacity and cut-price competition, with each pair of socks earning only a few cents.

As the world's largest sock production base, the transformation and upgrading of the sock industry in Datang Town were imperative.

"We have filed many patents,” explained Jiang Leizhong, head of a local sock company. To develop a new type of hosiery machine, Jiang and his team of nine engineers spent more than four years exploring new technologies.

Breaking the monopoly of patent technology among foreign enterprises and abiding by the rules of intellectual property protection have become further hurdles for socks manufacturers in Datang Town.

"We've been fighting a lawsuit against a foreign manufacturer for two years, and now we've won," said Yang Zhilin, head of a local technology company. Yang, who made a fortune by importing hosiery machines in his early years, does not shy away from the hardships and complexities of the process.

The hosiery factories in Datang, which were famous for OEM, are now striving to manufacture socks through innovation and intelligent manufacturing. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)

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