Importing Bamboo Textiles from China: A Complete Guide

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Bamboo textiles are used in a wide range of products, from t-shirts and knitwear, to rugs and towels. Bamboo rayon fabrics are widely seen as both fashionable and ecological.

But that’s not the whole story.

In this article, you will learn how to find the right bamboo textile manufacturer, labeling requirements in the EU and US, trade shows and MOQ requirements.

In addition, I’ll also explain why bamboo fabrics are not as ecological or ethical as you might think.

Bamboo Textiles Manufacturers in China

Bamboo textiles are used for a wide range of products. A few examples follow below:

  • Clothing
  • Rugs
  • Towels
  • Knitted textiles
  • Beddings
  • Curtains

It’s rare to find suppliers that exclusively work with bamboo fabrics. Instead, some apparel factories can offer bamboo textiles, through their network of fabric suppliers.

In most cases, only a portion of the output consists of products made of bamboo fabrics.

Of course, this is not only how it works in the apparel industry, but also for beddings, rugs and curtains.

That said, only a relatively small percentage of all suppliers in the textile industry work with bamboo fabrics. Basically, they don’t have any bamboo textiles supplier in their subcontractor network.

bamboo textiles

Sourcing Textiles Suppliers on Alibaba.com and Globalsources.com

You can’t approach any textiles manufacturer and assume that they can offer bamboo fabrics. Instead, you must specifically look for suppliers that can.

There are two categories of suppliers to consider:

a. Bamboo Apparel Factories

They cut, they sew and they pack. But they all fabrics, zippers and buttons, are purchased from subcontractors. Some of these suppliers are, partially, specializes in making bamboo apparel.

If they are, they will advertise this on their Alibaba.com or Globalsources.com pages. If they don’t have any product listings on their page, you’ll just waste your time contacting them.

b. Bamboo Fabric Suppliers

If you have more specific fabric requirements, you are better off going directly to the source. There are many large fabric suppliers in Jiangsu and Zhejiang, producing various types of bamboo textiles.

One such company is Shanghai Tenbro Bamboo Textile Co., Ltd, which is one of the largest bamboo textile producers in the world.

Just keep in mind that fabric suppliers don’t make the final product. For that, you will need to source a separate apparel manufacturer (or one that makes beddings, if that’s what you’re buying).

You can also ask the fabric supplier to give you a referral. They tend to have a few partners they work with on a regular basis.

Why product scope is not all that matters

Supplier sourcing is a bit more complex than just looking at the product scope. Always take a close look at the following when sourcing suppliers:

  • Product test reports (i.e., REACH or OEKO Tex Standard 100)
  • Quality Management System (i.e., ISO 9001:2015)
  • Social Compliance Certification (i.e., BSCI or Sedex)

The final assessment is based on the quality of the physical samples, but this framework will still take you a long way.

Bamboo Viscose Rayon Fabrics Production Issues

Bamboo fabric is ‘known’ for being ecological, antibacterial, organic, ethical.. You get the point. But that is not the whole story:

Are bamboo textiles organic?

Bamboo fibers are melted and mixed with chemicals to produce bamboo rayon fabrics. There is nothing organic about that.

This is what the official GOTS website has to say about it:

“[Bamboo rayon fabrics] can therefore not be considered as natural or even organic fibre, even if the bamboo plant was originally certified organic on the field.

In consequence, in GOTS certified textiles bamboo fibres can only be used for the tolerated remaining balance of conventional fibers. If the rayon is made from organically grown bamboo up to 30% may be used for the label grade ‘made with organic materials’.”

Are bamboo textiles ethically produced?

Many workers are exposed to extremely dangerous chemicals and toxic fumes during the refining process. Carbon disulfide is one such substance, that causes heart attacks, blindness and even psychosis. There’s nothing ethical about that.

Are bamboo textiles antibacterial?

Another hyped up benefit of bamboo fabrics is its presumed antibacterial feature. Some studies have shown that processed bamboo rayon fabric only retains this feature to a very limited extend.

So limited in fact, that the US FTC (Federal Trade Commission) bans companies from stating that any bamboo rayon product is antibacterial.

Other studies have found that there is no difference between bamboo fabrics, and cotton.

So they bother with unethical and ‘not so antibacterial’ bamboo rayon fabrics?

We get a ton of inquiries from brands that want to produce everything from ‘organic bamboo shopping bags’, to ethically produced bamboo t-shirts or ‘antibacterial bamboo towels’.

That’s also why I decided to write this article.

I think it’s mostly hype. Bamboo sounds good, and you can fetch a higher price tag when using what is perceived as a more ecological material.

It’s nice to be ethical and ecological, as long as someone else pays for it.

Bamboo fabrics do have some benefits:

  • Limited water usage
  • Biodegradable
  • No soil erosion (rather the opposite)
  • No pesticides

Hopefully, the production processes will improve in the near future.

Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) Requirements

Apparel manufacturers normally use less bamboo fabric, than cotton and other materials. Hence, the MOQ requirements tend to be less flexible when it comes to bamboo fabrics.

Most suppliers have the following MOQs:

Per order: 500 – 1000 pcs
Per design: 300 – 500 pcs
Per fabric: 300 – 500 pcs
Per color: 300 – 500 pcs
Per size: 100 – 500 pcs

‘Standard fabrics’ (i.e., 100% cotton) tend to have lower MOQs, as the supplier can split up the fabrics over many buyers.

Bamboo Textiles Labeling Requirements

In the United States, bamboo textiles are regulated by The Textile Fiber Products Identification Act and the Textile Fiber Rule.

Bamboo rayon fabrics must be labelled as ‘rayon (or viscose) made from bamboo’, not as ‘100% bamboo’.

Incorrectly labelling your product is illegal, and can result in the destruction by the customs authorities, or a forced recall. Or both.

In the European Union, textiles importers are not even allowed to use the term ‘bamboo’ as a fabric description. Instead, you should use ‘viscose’.

Textile labels are, for the record, mandatory in both the EU and the United States, so you cannot opt to leave the fabric label out.

Keep in mind that Chinese suppliers are not aware of American or European bamboo labeling requirements. Provide them with a ‘ready made’ label file to make sure they don’t get it wrong.

Chemicals and Heavy Metals

Bamboo textiles are subject to the same substance regulations as all fabrics. Importers based in the European Union must ensure compliance with REACH – which regulates lead, mercury and other substances.

If you’re based in the United States, you must comply with CPSC substance bans, and CA Prop 65 (if you’re based in California).

Trade Shows

There are several annual textiles and clothing trade shows in Hong Kong, Mainland China and Vietnam. However, none of these are specifically for bamboo fabrics.

Hong Kong S.A.R

  • HKTDC Hong Kong Fashion Week
  • HKTDC Hong Kong International Home Textile and Furnishings Fair
  • Global Sources Fashion Fair

China (Mainland)

  • Canton Fair Phase 3
  • Intertextile Shanghai Apparel Fabrics

Vietnam

  • Vietnam Int’l Textile & Garment Industry Exhibition
  • SaigonTex

Do you want to import Bamboo Textiles from China?

It can be hard to go from a design drawing to finished product. To help you manage the entire process – from creating a specification, to sampling and quality control – we created a Starter Package for Electric Bikes and other Electronics:

a. Manufacturer Lists

b. Product Specification Templates

c. Label Samples (USA & EU)

d. Tutorials, Video Walkthroughs and Task Lists that guide you step-by-step through the entire process

In addition, you can also book quality inspections, lab testing and shipping directly from the platform. Click here to learn more.

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