1 July 2001
Stalking Fashion(HKTDC Fashion - Leather Goods & Bags, Vol 03,2001)
Risen from Snakeskin
SHOWROOMS at Hunters Leatherware Ltd offer a glimpse of the latest fashions in leather accessories. Anticipating steady demand and sharp business growth, this maker of leather goods is intent on expansion.
"We expect turnover growth of at least 25-30%," says marketing manager Minna Chiu.
"That is because we intend to expand in Europe. We have been seeking styles and materials suitable for that market. We are increasing our product variety to suit the needs of different clients," she says.
Now the 12-year-old company's major markets are in Asia, particularly the Chinese mainland, Japan and Singapore. Hunters also has agents in Singapore, Japan and Taiwan.
Hunters sells three main lines: Fion and Fion Young for ladies and Simbolo for men. The latter, its Italian-licensed label, features wallets, briefcases, fire-lighter bags, smoking-pipe bags and pen bags. "This brand targets mainly the Chinese mainland market," Chiu notes.
"Simbolo's image is one of high quality," she says. The products are priced at medium-to-high levels.
Fion and Fion Young cover ladies' handbags, purses, jewellery cases, wallets, belts and other accessories. The raw materials include leather, fabrics, nylon and trendy materials.
At the medium-to-high end of the market, Fion appeals to female executives aged 20-40. "The bags are suitable for carrying to work. About 60-70% of Fion items are entirely leather. The range is high quality and looks elegant," Chiu says.
"The designs are clean, clear and not very complicated. They are simple and in basic colours, such as black, white, brown and burgundy."
Fion handbags offer "square looks", not round. "We add some fashion gimmicks."
In contrast, Fion Young is a medium-priced collection for casual occasions. "Fion Young features trendy styles and more colours. The items come in a great variety of materials, including leather, fabrics and PVC with leather trimming," Chiu says.
For Fion and Fion Young, the Hunters design team usually generates one or two new series per week. "We constantly strive for better designs," says Chiu.
The company uses leather from Italy and Japan. Other fabrics are imported from Japan, Taiwan and Italy.
Along with offices and marketing operations in Hong Kong, Hunters operates two factories in Huizhou on the Chinese mainland. Production occupies 60,000 square feet, employs 700 workers and generates 30,000 handbags, 30,000 wallets and 10,000 belts each month.
The company is flexible on minimum orders. "If we have materials ready and a customer wants only a small quantity, we try to meet the order requirements," Chiu says.
"When materials are in stock, we can deliver within 30 days. If we must wait for materials to arrive from Italy, the lead-time is 30-65 days. For special requests of less than 30 days, we try our best to oblige."
Although Hunters' products carry mainly its own brands, the company also engages in OEM work and retails in Hong Kong.
WRITTEN BY LIZA LEE
Hunters Leatherware Ltd
Unit 31, 11/F, Block B,
Focal Industrial Centre,
21 Man Lok Street,
Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tat Lee Leather Fty
CARRYING the right bag can complete any fashion look be it chic, sporty, businesslike or casual. Tat Lee Leather Fty makes bags to suit any mood or occasion.
"This is a family business. My father started as a supplier of snakeskin in 1979, sending snakeskin sheets to shoe factories," says director Sandy Ng.
When the snakeskin shoe business began to falter, Ng's father switched to supplying snakeskin to bag-makers. Tat Lee branched into manufacturing bags in 1989 and now produces everything from nylon rucksacks to designer leather handbags.
"We provide a wide range of bags, from inexpensive PVC or nylon to very high-end leather," says merchandiser Grace Chan.
Japan is the company's main market, but it also sells to customers in Singapore, Spain, Italy, France, the UK and Canada.
Tat Lee's FOB Hong Kong prices vary from US$1 for a nylon or PVC bag to US$50 for a leather model. "We have our own factories so our prices are lower than those of trading companies," adds Chan.
Tat Lee employs 2,500 workers at three factories in Guangdong Province on the Chinese mainland.
"Our leather bags are made of goat-skin, cowhide or snakeskin, but our speciality is really a mesh bag made of snakeskin," says Chan. These are handmade, apart from some requiring a mould.
"A worker can spend 2-3 days making a bag. The workers are like artists," says Chan.
Tat Lee's mesh-leather products range from pretty little snakeskin handbags with drawstrings to large tote bags in cowhide.
"There are only five mesh-leather manufacturers in Hong Kong. Since we are the oldest, our workers have a lot of experience. Many clients have been with us for at least 10 years," says Chan.
"We produce about 20,000 leather bags and 150,000 PVC and nylon products per month," says Chan. Minimum order is 100 pieces for leather bags and 2,000 for PVC or nylon items. Delivery time is 30-60 days.
The company offers more than 50 product lines per season, with up to six lines solely for leather bags.
"We have a new line of beaded leather and fabric bags. These will be quite popular this season and next," says Ng, who participates in the designing.
"I get ideas from magazines, fabrics and shoes - because shoes and bags should match - and of course from clients," she explains.
There are plans to open a fourth factory. "We may use it to make shoes, but we are still studying this. We already manufacture meshed shoe uppers and all kinds of accessories - belts, wallets and briefcases - using our materials," Ng says.
The company hopes to expand its European exports. "We are working on an in-house brand that we want to develop," says Ng.
WRITTEN BY MELISSA G. WESTCOTT
Tat Lee Leather Fty
2/F, Flat 6, Nan Wah Bldg,
6 Man Wui St, Jordan,
Kowloon, Hong Kong
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