21 Jan 2005
Leather Handbags(HKTDC Fashion - Leather Goods & Bags, Vol 01,2005)
Always gearing their products to meet market demand, they place enormous emphasis on fine design because they know that a leather bag is an investment and customers demand special styles.
Markham Int'l Ltd is one company that differentiates itself by producing bags in a variety of leathers. "The major reason we use special leathers is to target specific markets," says marketing manager Iris Hau, explaining that shark skin, for example, is very popular in Japan but would not be acceptable in the US or Europe.
Similarly, 'split' python skin is a lower grade of leather that goes to markets that cannot afford higher grades of leather, while Markham also uses ostrich leather sourced in South Africa.
Hau notes that the vivid palette for the coming spring/summer includes green, red and purple. "Shapes are varied - some markets, like Japan, prefer smaller bags, while the US tends to go for bigger sizes," she maintains. "There is also a trend for embellishments such as metallic lucky charms and gemstones, so we use crystals in some of our designs."
The company owns a 7,000-square-metre factory in Dongguan on the southern Chinese mainland, which employs 400 workers who produce 30,000 leather bags per month.
Hau says Markham's products are in the medium-to-high price range, with leather bags generally costing US$15-20 each FOB Hong Kong, but can be as low as US$10 for split leather models.
"Minimum order is 300 pieces per style, any colour, and delivery is 45 days after confirmation," Hau says, adding that Markham's key markets are the US, Japan and Europe, particularly the UK.
European styling is a big selling point for Sun Lai Leather Fty Ltd, which has been in the business for more than 25 years. "Our new collection features bags in burnished leather with some fashion detailing," reveals sales manager Mony Yik.
She notes that Sun Lai's major customers are in Europe, so the firm follows their ideas. "At the moment they like details such as butterfly or flower motifs and stitching on the fascia," Yik adds. "The collection comes in the standard colours of black, camel, white and tan, and this season's fashion colours of green, blue, orange and pink."
Italy is Sun Lai's major market. "Currently we don't sell much in Asia, but we are targeting Japan and the mainland," Yik admits. "Chinese customers in particular like European styles, so we will market the same designs to them."
Leather, PVC, PU and the fabric used in the linings is sourced in Korea, Taiwan and the mainland for processing at a 400-worker mainland plant in Shenzhen that can produce 70,000-80,000 pieces a month.
"FOB Hong Kong prices depend on the size, quality of leather and amount of detailing, but range from US$15-30 per bag," Yik says. "We require a minimum order of 300 pieces for the leather bags, and delivery is between 45-60 days."
Italy and Japan are also regular destinations for York Star Co Ltd's in-house designer Terence Lui, who travels to both countries regularly and visits leather shows to gain inspiration for new collections.
"The shape and detailing of our new collection for spring/summer 2005 is classic and is targeted at women executives," he says, adding that the season's colour story includes pink, sky blue, orange, green and yellow and that butterflies were an inspiration.
"The leather comes from Italy, with metal pieces including buckles and zippers - both of which feature widely in the new collection - sourced locally in Hong Kong."
York Star's bags are manufactured at its 300,000-square-foot factory in Dongguan, which is staffed by up to 1,600 workers who produce an average of 200,000 pieces per month.
Minimum order is 500 pieces per colour per style, and delivery time is 90 days. "FOB Hong Kong prices range from US$30-70, depending on the type of leather used," says Lui, adding that Italy and the US are major markets.
Another Hong Kong company that uses fine Italian leather in its bags is Adson Group Ltd, which is best known as the world's leading manufacturer of small leather goods.
"Most of the leather we use is cowhide grain from Italy, Korea, France, Spain and Norway, though we also use high-quality fashion leather from the mainland," says director Susan Cabanal.
Adson's 14,000-square-metre factory in Guangdong Province is currently producing 20,000 leather handbags a month, so the company is opening a new plant four times larger near Shanghai in mid-2005 to cope with demand.
Leather bags destined for discerning customers in Italy, the US and Asia are priced from US$12-50 each, FOB Hong Kong. "Minimum order is 300 pieces per style and 2,000 pieces per shipment, delivered 45-90 days after order confirmation," adds Cabanal.
Adson is also up with the trend for bright colours and decoration such as zips and buckles, underlining Hong Kong's position as an indispensable destination for keen buyers with designs on large orders for quality leather bags.
WRITTEN BY ANN WILLIAMS
Adson Group Ltd
Chun Yip Handbag Co