29 June 2006
Lugguage(HKTDC Fashion - Leather Goods & Bags, Vol 03,2006)
Ta Shun Industrial (HK) Co Ltd's trolley cases include these models covered in fun prints that stand out on the luggage carousel
The proliferation of low-cost airlines and a substantial, ongoing expansion in airline networks means luggage is no longer something that can be taken for granted.
Today's travellers are not only seeking increased comfort and convenience but also searching for luggage that offers fashion and functionality, according to the US-based Travel Goods Association (TGA).
TGA notes that R&D is focused on ease-of-use, interior organisation, portability, durability, shock absorption and mobility, with many luggage manufacturers moving away from traditional basic black and towards bright, funky colours.
In addition, TGA research indicates that many new fabrics and materials have been introduced, including micro-fleece grid fabric, crinkle nylon/polyester blends and suede.
Hand-in-hand with these developments has been a growing trend towards cheaper and more casual soft-side bags and luggage instead of hard-side items, and the development of hybrid luggage that combines both styles.
The TGA also notes that the increasing number of women in the workplace is reflected in a commensurate amount of travel goods specially designed for women, including portfolios, computer bags and wheeled totes.
In addition, there are new luggage lines that feature special sections for toiletries, cosmetics, shoes and other items that enable female travellers to travel more conveniently.
Meanwhile, ergonomically-designed items continue to be in high demand, including luggage with handle systems that can be altered for left- and right-handed people; products with weight-bearing, push-button retractable handles and four swivel wheels that allow bags to pivot 360 degrees; luggage with shock-absorbing wheel systems that adjust to surface changes; and collections that feature removable wheel and handle systems.
Needless to say, Hong Kong companies such as Creative Travelware Ltd are committed to meeting the ever-growing demand for quality luggage, producing more than 30,000 practical yet attractive trolley cases and 80,000 bags each month.
"Travel bags and trolleys are our most popular items in our main markets - Europe and Asia," explains manager William Lau. "Business is booming but we are experiencing lower margins because raw material costs have risen and we have had to absorb some of the increases."
The 16-year-old company sources materials such as polyester, nylon and suede from Taiwan, Korea and the Chinese mainland for manufacture at a 700-worker, SA8000-certified factory in the mainland's Fujian Province. "We require minimum orders of 250 trolley cases or 600 bags, delivered 60 days after order confirmation," Lau adds.
Ta Shun Industrial (HK) Co Ltd is another leading manufacturer with a huge portfolio, producing more than 600 different luggage items at its 520-worker factory in Shenzhen on the mainland.
"We produce bags, and metal and PVC premiums, that bear the brand names of leading international companies such as Coca-Cola, Disney, Body Glove and Speedo," managing director Ted Li observes.
The 15-year-old company's luggage is fashioned from nylon, polyester and cotton for maximum durability and its fun, print models that stand out on the luggage carousel are popular in major markets such as the US and Europe. "Our minimum order quantity is 1,000 pieces of one style, with delivery normally 30-45 days after order confirmation," Li adds.
The burgeoning ladies' market is a key target audience for JWS Worldwide Ltd, a major producer of durable and stylish travel and PVC bags that include a funky pink model in child-friendly sizes.
"Our most popular product is the 50/60/70 cm trolley case - three pieces per set - which sells well in Europe," explains manager Ken Lo. "However, we have found it difficult to penetrate the US market as our products are mainly aimed at Europe."
JWS sources its nylon and polyester raw materials from Taiwan and the mainland for processing at its 150-worker mainland factory. "We have no minimum order quantities and can deliver 30 days after order confirmation," Lo adds.
Firmly focused on fashion is Hazza Int'l Ltd, which manufactures a wide range of stylish handbags, travel bags and other luggage such as microfibre travel bags with pull handles and matching tote bags in pastel pink.
"These are among our most popular products, together with PVC/PU fashion handbags and travel bags made of PVC/PU, polyester and nylon," marketing manager Carmen Au says.
"Our most successful markets are fairly diverse and include Asia - the Philippines, Singapore and Hong Kong - Australia, Greece, the UK, South Africa and sometimes the US."
Hazza Int'l, which sources polyester and microfibre from the mainland, Korea and Hong Kong, produces more than 100,000 pieces per month at its 200-worker factory in Guangzhou. "Our minimum order quantity is 50 pieces per style, with delivery 18 days after confirmation," Au adds.
Prolific luggage manufacturer Lee Tat Enterprises Co's most popular items include a 19-inch trolley backpack and a 28-inch trolley bag in eye-catching colours that make stylish alternatives to the traditional suitcase. "Our most successful market is undoubtedly Europe, although we aim to sell worldwide," says sales manager Mandy Siu.
Lee Tat sources 600D polyester from the mainland for processing at its 100-worker mainland factory in Shenzhen that produces 20,000 pieces a month. "We require minimum orders of 500 pieces with delivery 45 days following order confirmation," Siu says.
Clearly, Hong Kong-made luggage of all shapes and styles continues to travel well, so busy buyers should load up if they want orders to fly.
WRITTEN BY JEFF HESELWOOD