1 April 2003
Fashion Leather Bags(HKTDC Fashion - Leather Goods & Bags, Vol 02,2003)
A U-shaped opening adds complexity to this soft nappa leather bag from Jibsen Industrial Ltd
Fashion in the fickle world of ladies' accessories moves fast, quality is not cheap, and what's in today may well be out tomorrow. This makes investing in a good handbag a decision requiring serious thought. Fortunately leather never really goes out of style.
Certainly this is true in the US, according to Jibsen Industrial Ltd marketing manager Liza Leung. One of Jibsen's most popular items is its elegant soft nappa leather handbag, priced at US$8 FOB Hong Kong and available in the customer's choice of colour for any order of 1,000 pieces or more.
Jibsen's factory in Dongguan on the Chinese mainland specialises in making high quality bags to the special designs of its US and Canadian customers, and its 700 workers know these must conform to exacting quality standards.
"Clients' designers in the States send us their sketches, and then we make up models on the basis of those drawings," Leung explains. "Our major clients are in North America, and we manufacture for their brands, but we do have the intention to build up our own brand name in the future based on our own designs, again focusing on the US market."
Although Jibsen also makes cheaper, more disposable fashion bags, Leung stresses that the company's leather bags remain its calling card.
"Our bags are targeted mostly at office ladies and teenagers, and are made in materials including PVC and canvas," she says. "Leather is a relatively small proportion of what we do, but it's essential for customers who want the upper end of the range."
Leather quality is also important to Central Force Holdings Ltd, which uses a variety of leathers for its supple, versatile handbags, tote bags and backpacks. FOB Hong Kong prices for these high-end fashion items range from US$25.65-36.45.
"Basically we manufacture bags for export to Japan, Europe and the US," explains export manager Kitty Wong. "We concentrate on leather bags for the high-end fashion market using cowhide but also goat leather and horse leather."
She notes that cowhide is "of course the most common", while the others are more expensive. "The horse leather is requested by Italian clients who are very interested in special high quality leathers."
Sun Lai Leather Fty Ltd has been producing good quality handbags, wallets and leather gift and premium items for more than 25 years. It promises delivery within 45 days from its factories on the Chinese mainland.
Like many other leather goods specialists the company also makes bags from PVC, PU and a variety of other materials, but remains loyal to leather for the best of its accessory items.
"PVC is still the most popular material for cost reasons, but there is a demand for leather at the high end of the market," explains sales coordinator May So. "Our leather bags are priced between US$15-20 FOB Hong Kong for minimum orders of 500 pieces per model. Europe and Japan are our major markets at the moment, and we use leather mostly from Korea and the mainland."
Stylish handbags suitable for day or evening use are very much the style of the New Bright Handbag Fty Ltd, which uses Italian and Indian leather for the range of bags it produces under the Xena brand name, widely recognised in Germany, the US, Holland, England and Australia.
The company accepts minimum orders of 500 pieces for which it undertakes delivery from its factory in Zhongshan on the mainland within 30-45 days of order confirmation.
Hunters Leatherwares Ltd is another specialist in understated elegance, using timeless colours and classic lines for its range of soft leather bags and cases.
The company focuses primarily on discerning Asian markets and has an expanding business on the mainland, as well as being popular among style-conscious ladies in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan.
"We have our own brands - Fion, Pri Moda by Fion and Sicolo, which is specially developed for the mainland market," explains marketing manager Minna Chiu, adding Sicolo is a licensed brand but Fion and Pri Moda are Hunters' own brands. "We have designers in both Hong Kong and the mainland and our bags are our own designs."
Founded in 1979, the company plans to use its proven track record in Asia and its creative resources to build a broader international presence and is already looking further afield for new business.
"We have our own factory on the mainland, and at the moment the mainland accounts for a large proportion of our total sales," Chiu says. "At present our target is the Asian market, but in the longer term we do see opportunities in the US and European markets created by the mainland's accession to the World Trade Organization - which is particularly interesting for quality leather goods."
Hunters is not alone among Hong Kong-based leather goods manufacturers in having global ambitions. With the quality these companies have consistently produced at the prices they can offer however, the business, you might say, is more or less in the bag.
WRITTEN BY ROBERT PIERCE
Central Force Holdings Ltd
Fuk Hong Ind Bldg
60-62B Tong Mi Rd
Jibsen Industrial Ltd
K Wah Centre
191 Java Rd
New Bright Handbag Fty Ltd
Yeung Yiu Chung Ind Bldg
20 Wang Hoi Rd
Prima Leather Goods Co Ltd
538 Castle Peak Rd
Cheung Sha Wan, Kowloon
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