Township's prospects as bright as a button
Clockwise from top left: Buttons featuring ethnic motifs; creative button designs; a cultural motif on a button; a phoenix artwork decorated with Chinese frog buttons. [Photo/China Daily]
Editor's Note: This series of stories looks at local enterprises in specialized sectors that have a share in global markets.
When Lu Luoyi received a set of buttons for her high school graduation, it proved to be a life-changing gift.
"They were beautifully intricate works of art from out of town. I thought about the huge amount of expertise that went into making them and wanted to do something similar. You can say that's what helped me start on my career path," said Lu, now 59.
Lu, together with more than 70 colleagues, makes buttons out of seashells in a factory in Xitang, a township of Jiashan county in the city of Jiaxing, Zhejiang province in East China.
The raw material comes from the province's coastal areas about 300 kilometers away, before being made into more than 300,000 buttons that pass through Lu's hands every day to help adorn the latest fashion trends across the country and worldwide.
"The most beautiful ones can seem like pearls that glow under moonlight," she said. "Probably nowhere else can such buttons be created."
Xitang's button producers form a pillar industry of Jiashan that employs more than 20,000 people. They boasted an annual output of more than 110 billion buttons in 2021－half the share of the domestic market－and contributed nearly 70 percent of local tax revenue, according to the county.
Because it is at the forefront of Chinese button production, Xitang is dubbed "the world's button hub", with everyone across the globe on average having at least 10 buttons made in the township.