China’s circular knit sector in full flow Nov 05,2021

China’s circular knitting industry is booming in 2021, both at the expense of other major manufacturing countries and the woven sector.

In the latest webinar held by technology leader Groz-Beckert on October 4th, consultants from The Fiber Year GmbH outlined the multiple reasons for this.

While China’s overall knitting industry output fell by 9% in 2020, after the country was forced to close down to deal with the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, it has subsequently bounced back to full production and has also been heavily investing in new low-cost, high speed and flexible circular knitting capacity, as well as in warp knitting machines, although there has been a significant drop in orders for flat knitting machines from the country.

The pandemic resulted in a significant change in apparel demand globally, with a large increase in sportswear and leisurewear based on fine gauge fabrics, heavily influenced by the rise in both home working and the preference for outdoor activities. This shift was at the expense of formal wear which is to a greater extent the domain of woven fabrics.

With Covid-19 ongoing, many countries have also been struggling to contain second and third wave outbreaks, with a return to lockdowns in major knitting countries including Bangladesh, Brazil and Vietnam having damaging impacts.

These countries are now experiencing order backlogs and inevitably, new orders are flowing back to China. The flexible nature of circular knitting is also bringing benefits in a general move to shorter lot production runs.

In the first six months of 2021, China has increased its knitted apparel production by 34%, with exports booming and retail sales in China itself even higher, reflecting the success, both on the domestic markets and in exports this year, of China’s own sportswear brands such as Anta and Li Ning.

As a result, The Fiber Year GmbH expects that the global production of knitted fabrics will be on par or above that of 2019 in 2021, although the analysts cautioned that a great deal of uncertainty remains due to both Covid-19 and the current shipping container problem.

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