Cotton Supply Chain Leaders

Bros: Faster, More Flexible Mélange Yarns

When buyers need mélange (heather) yarn the first place they go is to Bros Eastern Co. Ltd., a specialist in this product.


“We only make mélange yarn so we can really focus on making a great product – and then continue to improve it,” said Kevin Yang, Vice President.


Products like Bros’ space dyed-like heather yarn, marl effects, neps effects, and denim-looking heather yarns are keeping heather yarns fresh.  The mélange yarn is available in an extensive offering of 5,500 colors.


“We can customize both colors and textures so that our customers can have exclusive products,” said Mr. Yang, noting that the minimum order for custom colors was only 50 lbs per color.


Leading international brands including Uniqlo, H&M, Polo, Nike, Gap, and Adidas, as well as top Chinese brands such as Meters/bonwe, Anta, Li-Ning and Semir, use Bros heather yarns as part of their total quality effort.


A Growing Regional Footprint

Ningbo,China-based Bros has been making mélange yarn for over 30 years and its heavy investment in R&D and consistent high quality has kept the company in a leadership position.   The company has been listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange A Share (Ticker: 601339) since 2012.


The company will reach an annual capacity of 1.4 million spindles (around 190,000 tons of mélange yarn per year) by end of 2018, which will increase to 1.6 million spindles in 2019 with the expansion of its Vietnam operations.  Currently, the company has subsidiaries in China located in Zhejiang, Shandong, Hebei, and Jiangsu, as well as in Vietnam.


By 2019, about 55 percent of Bros’ production will be in Vietnam, with the rest in China.  This is strategically positioning the company to serve both their Western and Japanese customers, as well as China’s fast growing domestic market.


Bros has the distinct advantage of having its own government certified dye house, something that has been of critical importance during Beijing’s recent crackdown on facilities that don’t meet the nation’s strict environmental laws.


Sustainable & Sporty

About 70-80 percent of Bros yarns are 100% cotton, mainly for use in circular knitting, with some being used in flat knitting. 


“Sustainability has become very important to activewear brands, and now even casualwear brands are looking for this.  We’ve developed our EcoFRESH yarn to meet this demand.  EcoFRESH uses 50 percent less chemicals and auxiliaries dosage and 40 percent less water during the dyeing process,” said Mr. Yang.   The process uses high-tech green dyeing production that eliminates salt and alkali.


Bros also chooses materials that are sustainable.  “We like to use US cotton because it is sustainable.  This is because the US farmers are using more efficient farming technology that reduces water usage to a bare minimum,” he said. 


“Buyers are nominating US cotton because the longer staple fiber creates a knit fabric with a smoother, finer hand feel.  The quality is stable, which is very important for us.  When we use good quality cotton we can reduce production losses. 


“Contamination in cotton must be removed by hand so it’s very labor intensive.  There’s a real value in using cotton that we know will provide consistent high quality with every bale,” said Mr. Yang, adding that bar codes on each bale provide a high level traceability, as does US cotton’s advance cotton grading system.


Bros Eastern Co. Ltd

Headquarters:  Ningbo, China.  Mills in China and Vietnam.

Core Products:  Top-dyed cotton mélange yarn.

Production:  Spinning and dyeing.

Capacity:  1.2 million spindles (165,000 tons of yarn annually) 2017.  Will increase to 1.4 million spindles end of 2018, with 50% in China and 50% in Vietnam. Continue to expand in Vietnam with 200 thousand spindles more added by the end of 2019.  

Lead times:  Can be as fast as 10 days, by stocking greige yarn.

MOQ:  50 lbs per custom color.

Sustainability:  EcoFRESH yarn that uses 50% less chemicals and auxiliaries dosage and 40% less water.  Uses US cotton because it is sustainable and traceable, and is grown using advanced farm technology that minimizes water usage.




Making It Faster

Meeting the demand for shorter lead times is also something that Bros continues to tackle.


“We stock the greige yarn and can then dye it at the last minute when the order is received.  This reduces lead times by about 20-30 percent.  We can deliver in 10 days, whereas stand leads are 20-30 days,” said Mr. Yang.


We stock the over-dye heather yarn, customers can make a purchase and then knit and dye it when they received orders at the last minute. This reduces lead times by about 20-30 percent. We can deliver in 10 days, whereas standard leads are 20-30 days


Bros is also continuing to invest in state-of-the-art European equipment that can boost production efficiency.


Cleaner, Greener Future

The next step for Bros is the creation of dyes that use only natural materials.


“We’re working on developing botanic dyed heather yarn using only 100% natural dyes,” said Mr. Yang.


“Our customers are looking to making their products even more sustainable so we are working on R&D to support them in doing this,” he added.

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