18 Jan 2008
Classically Casual(HKTDC Fashion - Leather Goods & Bags, Vol 01,2008)
|Wah Ngai Co's clutch bags, in a variety of designs including heavily-beaded options, are particularly popular in the US and Europe|
Originally used to complement elegant evening ensembles, clutch bags are increasingly adding glamour to daywear
No well-dressed woman would consider leaving the house without a stylish bag that not only completes her outfit but also carries all her essentials.
This is particularly important when it comes to those all-important evening soirees where it is vital to make a good impression.
Luckily, women the world over know they can rely on the wide selection of sleek clutch bags available from highly experienced and innovative Hong Kong suppliers.
One of the latest creations from Bronte Mfg Co Ltd, for example, is a black satin clutch bag in long and narrow silhouette, highlighted by a bold, glittering zigzag crystal bar running horizontally across the middle.
"This is what we call the 'east-west' design because of the bag's shape, and it has been very well-received in our US and European markets," enthuses Manager Ricky Soong.
"Colours like black, gold, silver and bronze are evergreen as they can go easily with ball gowns, party dresses or fur garments."
Bronte's bags are usually accented with crystals, in black or white colours for its darker-colour fall/winter collections, and pastel shades for spring/summer designs featuring lighter palettes.
Targeting the middle- to high-end market sector, the company uses mostly Swarovski crystals. "We have collaborated with Swarovski for more than two decades, and stock more than 30 colours from which our customer can choose," adds Mr Soong.
Bronte uses satin as a major material but sometimes selects printed fabrics to offer customers more vivid variations, such as leopard skin patterns.
"We usually choose patterns with minute designs so that they go well with the size of the clutch bag," Mr Soong explains. "We also tone down other details so the overall effect will not be too exaggerated."
Offering a fresh alternative is Wah Ngai Co, which used to offer clutch bags trimmed from satin but now also crafts more modern varieties in PU.
Company spokeswoman Safan Hor says its latest hot picks include a bronze PU clutch bag accentuated with pleated details and a diamante buckle.
"We are best known for our beaded satin bags as our factory is located in Shantou - a city in Guangdong Province famous for its beadwork," Ms Hor explains. "However, we are flexible enough to offer upbeat PU creations, which are selling especially well in European markets."
She notes that PU is available in a huge range of "very appealing" colours, metallic hues that complement the resurgence of the 1980s "glam" look that is currently popular.
Specialising in evening bags, Wah Ngai spoils its customers with more than 1,500 styles each year - and around one-third of that total consists of clutch bags.
"Clutch bags have recently become trendy accessories for daytime use, and as a result their sizes have become bigger and ladies can use them from day to night," Ms Hor adds.
Equally prolific is Wise Lead Int'l Handbag Ltd, which offers a myriad of bags spanning shoulder and fashion bags, classic handbags and evening bags.
Manager Anna Wong agrees that clutch bags are all the rage.
"We are strongest in evening bags, and nowadays nearly all customers will put clutch bags on their order list," she observes.
According to Ms Wong, shimmering fabrics and sparkling decoration are a la mode, while big brooches on clutch bags are an up-and-coming style.
"The trend of bags being enhanced with brooches has prevailed for some time but now brooches are getting bigger and more eye-catching, as in our black silk satin bag with a big floral brooch set with Swarovski crystals," she notes.
Wise Lead's collections are designed by its creative team based in New York, which Ms Wong believes makes the company's products unique.
"Our bags have found a following with many well-known international fashion brands," she says. "We also have our New York-registered Milami brand name, which is used by some of our new customers in Europe and the US."
Buyers seeking more classic styles should check out Wing Shing Enterprise Int'l Co Ltd, which specialises in clutch bags with metal frames and uncluttered shapes - be they inlaid with crystals or mounted with embossed PU.
"Not too many factories offer framed bags nowadays because it is not easy to do a good job - the appeal of the bag depends greatly on the workmanship of the metal frame and closure," maintains Managing Director Pang Fong Shui.
He takes pride in Wing Shing's reputation for making high-quality framed clutch bags thanks to the in-house metal department in its Dongguan factory, which allows the company to exercise stringent control over quality as well as delivery.
Wing Shing's framed clutch bags are particularly popular in the US, the UK and the Middle East, but the firm also initiates new designs every month to stimulate sales in markets worldwide.
"Our designers create more than 20 styles a month, paying attention to the preferences of different markets," Mr Pang says. "For example, designs for the Middle East usually employ more metal parts while prototypes for the US are bigger in size and more understated in details."
Whatever the demand, buyers clearly have a world of choice when it comes to the classy clutch bags produced by Hong Kong manufacturers.
TEXT BY WINNIE HUI
Bronte Mfg Co Ltd
Year Established: 1984
Year Established: 1985
Year Established: 1997
Year Established: 1984
Year Established: 1983
Year Established: 1990