Small Chinese town produces a third of world's baseball caps

(People's Daily Online) 08:57, April 21, 2023

Ligezhuang town in Jiaozhou, a county-level city in Qingdao of east China's Shandong Province, is known as the country's "hometown of hats." Baseball caps manufactured in the town account for one-third of the world's total.

A worker adjusts threads at a manufacturing workshop in Ligezhuang town in Jiaozhou, east China's Shandong Province, March 4, 2021. (Photo/Xinhua)

The town is home to over 600 companies in the hat industry and relevant supporting industries, and 30 percent of its 120,000 residents work in these sectors. Hat manufacturing companies in the town can produce more than 500 million hats a year, generating an annual output of 4 billion yuan ($581.8 million). More than 90 percent of the town's hats are exported.

Ligezhuang began producing hats in 1985 when a hat manufacturing factory, the first joint venture in the town, was established there, according to Zheng Jian, an official in the town. In three years, the factory's annual production of hats exceeded 18 million.

In 1996, a hat manufacturing factory solely owned by a Hong Kong investor was set up in the town. Driven by the two factories, the local hat industry experienced explosive growth.

Gradually, a complete industrial chain for the hat industry featuring advantages such as low cost, high quality and short manufacturing periods emerged in the town.

Since 2008, the town has established the hat industry as a leading industry. One year later, it was named "China's hometown of hats."

A worker makes hats to be exported to Japan at a manufacturing workshop in Ligezhuang town in Jiaozhou, east China's Shandong Province, March 4, 2021. (Photo/Xinhua)

Guo Mingfei, head of Qingdao Feiteng Caps Co., Ltd. focusing on the medium and high-end market, began to work in the hat industry in 2008. According to him, Ligezhuang town mainly boasts advantages such as high-quality raw materials, exquisite processing techniques, and a mature industrial chain.

In recent years, more and more companies have sought automation transformation, but some of them have been hindered by capital shortage.

To solve the problem, a shared intelligent factory covering 2,000 square meters was built in the town, offering OEM services to local companies.

Eighty percent of hat manufacturing procedures can be completed at the shared factory equipped with over 130 intelligent machines. This has improved the overall efficiency of hat manufacturing by four times and reduced costs by 30 percent. So far, over 200 enterprises have benefited from the shared factory.

Ligezhuang town has been striving to build local hat brands, Zheng said.

In 2017, Qingdao Qianfeng Capart Int'l Corp., a local leading hat manufacturer, created a hat brand called Doodays and opened online flagship stores to sell over 10 types of hats, with the monthly sales volume exceeding 20,000 hats. The company later sold Doodays hats via live-streaming sessions on short video platforms, with sales reaching 1 million hats within half a year.

Citizens try hats at a showroom in Ligezhuang town in Jiaozhou, east China's Shandong Province, March 4, 2021. (Photo/Xinhua)

The company also created a brand called Topcul to meet high-end customers' personalized demands. It receives an order of more than over 10,000 Topcul hats per month.

The town also built a smart warehouse spanning 8,000 square meters to help enterprises address problems related to raw materials. It also established a hat industrial park covering 2 square kilometers and built the Qingdao SCO Cross-border E-commerce Industrial Park. These facilities will further boost the development of the town's hat industry.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Du Mingming)


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