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The First Straw(HKTDC Fashion - Leather Goods & Bags, Vol 02,2004)



Vol. 2, 2004



Company Profiles

Olympic Standard
Hon Shing Hats and Bags Mfy Ltd

The First Straw
Super Art Industries (HK) Ltd

The First Straw

Super Art Industries (HK) Ltd

Super Art Industries (HK) Ltd's ladies' straw bags in different styles are decorated with delicate sequins, flower motifs and embroidery

Sticking to what he knows - the design and manufacture of crochet or "straw" bags - has helped Bruce Fung and Super Art Industries (HK) Ltd flourish in the highly competitive bag business.

Before he set up the company, Fung took a careful look at the competition and concluded that his best opportunity was manufacturing items using the demanding crochet production technique. "Few other companies seemed willing to take on the technical and logistical challenges involved," he recalls.

Ten years on, Fung is still based in Shatin, where he started out with three employees, but now has two factories on the Chinese mainland employing thousands of workers -and little competition.

"Only about three or four companies in Hong Kong make these bags," he notes. "You must specialise in this business because you have to understand it well."

Super Art uses both hand and machine weaving techniques, depending on the design, with much of the former taking place in the community where the skills have been available for generations.

This combination of the traditional and the technologically advanced gives Fung a versatile production capability that allows his firm to make as many as 200,000-300,000 bags per month.

"The biggest order we ever had was from a Spanish company for 100,000 bags, but we do orders from 1,000 bags up," he explains. "We can do smaller orders for established customers, but not generally on a first-time basis."

Super Art's cheapest bags range in price from around US$0.30 to approximately US$11 FOB Hong Kong each. "We made some colourfast bags with leather handles for US company Eddie Bauer, and those were high quality accessories," Fung explains. "We have also done lined bags with logos and that raises the price."

All the materials involved in Super Art's manufacturing process are sourced on the mainland, and include paper straw, wheat straw, PP, natural and acrylic wool, cotton, chenille, nylon and rayon.

Fung notes that his company's major markets are in Europe. "Spain, France and Italy like our brightly coloured bags, and some of the natural coloured models sell in the US," reveals. "We make bags for more or less everywhere in the world that has a hot summer, but we also sell to cold countries like Sweden and Finland."

He believes that the appeal of straw bags lies in the fact that consumers like the natural look, particularly in summer when corn husk and wheat straw are popular materials for beach bags.

However, Super Art also produces more sophisticated crocheted printed bags, and has made bags bearing the Disney and Hello Kitty characters for licensed clients.

Super Art manufactures handbags, shoulder bags, shopping bags, beach bags and gift bags in designs ranging from the rustic to the highly sophisticated, in floral, butterfly, striped, check, or plain patterns.

There are changes every season in the patterns and the colours according to fashion, Fung admits, but says Super Art's customers know their markets and help his firm design the bags.

"At the moment in Europe the demand is for pale colours - blue, pink, green and natural," Fung observes. "Sometimes after three or four years, old fashions come back."

Fung stresses that the company, which will make bags to client designs but also uses its own creative resources to work on an ODM basis, is highly flexible in responding to customer demands.

"Customers can change the colour up to the last minute when they order - we offer more than 100 colours and we use good quality dyes," he explains. "It usually takes 45 days from placing an order to confirmation, but we have turned around an order for 5,000 bags in as little as one week, because we had the materials on hand."

Quality control is also a high priority and Fung insists on a "hands-on" approach, with the result that the company's mainland factories are regularly patrolled by supervisors and quality control inspectors.

It is this vigilance, he believes, that has won Super Art international clients such as Eddie Bauer, Mango Group and Zara Group. That, and a serious commitment to the product. "Straw bags are special," Fung concludes. "When customers have ordered once, they generally come back again."

WRITTEN BY ROBERT PIERCE

Super Art Industries (HK) Ltd

Flat 15, 12/F,
New Commerce Centre,
On Lai St, Shatin,
New Territories, Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2648-2683
Fax: 852-2648-1196
Email: bruce-superart@hongkong.com

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