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Singapore’s bag makers look offshore to lower prices
Simply designed but elegant handbags are handcrafted in highly
textured crocodile and ostrich skins
Fashion Accessories - June 1995
Although Singapore produces bags with better designs and higher quality, high prices have placed its makers at a disadvantage. Producing offshore has become an attractive way of bringing costs down. Two companies contacted by Fashion Accessories are setting up factories in Malaysia and China.

Higher-end bags in simple but elegant designs use highly textured crocodile and ostrich skins. Some products carry a CITES (Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) certificate.

Midrange casual models for a younger market, on the other hand, use jute, calfskin and suede.

Most bag-making processes for high-end designs are performed manually. Fully handcrafted models are available, although some bags are stitched by machine.

One company provides after-sales services. Buyer’s designs are generally accepted.

The biggest export market is Japan. Manufacturers also ship to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the United States and some European countries.

Lee Ching Leathergoods
Manufacturers (Pte) Ltd

Established: 1945
Factory: 3,500 square feet in Singapore
Capacity: 300 pcs monthly
Workforce: 20
Min.order: negotiable
Delivery: 45 days after confirmation
Fax: (65) 255-8616
Inquiry # FA0051

Lee Ching, a specialist in crocodile and ostrich-skin handbags, strictly follows the rules of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), said chairman Augustine Lee. Each finished product comes with an official CITES certificate.

This family-run family is eyeing offshore production in China. It handcrafts all its products.

A crocodile-skin handbag paneled in red, green and blue is Lee Ching’s most exclusive design. The golden handles have a twisted-coil effect. Handbag prices start at $141.

Crocodile skin is expensive to acquire. According to Lee, product prices may even rise further due to material scarcity and increased demand at colder at times of the year.

“Lee Ching’s market caters to middle-aged people who prefer simple and conventional handbags,” Lee said. Classic colors include brown and gray, but black is the most popular. Zips and buckles are popular features of more than 100 models produced by the firm.

The entire bag-makin process of designing, cutting, mold making, skin trimming, sewing and QC is performed in-house.

Bags are packed individually or according to buyer’s specifications.

About 60 percent of output is exported to Japan, with the remainder going to Europe and the United States. Lee Ching is exploring market opportunities in Asian countries.

Lee Ching is one of Singapore’s leading reptile-skin product producers, said Lee.

Leather Galleria
Established: 1991

Factory: 1,600 square feet in Singapore; Malaysia
Workforce: 40
Capacity: 5,000pcs monthly
Min.order: 500 pcs
Delivery: 60 days after L/C
Fax: (65) 741-5239
Inquiry # FA0052

Jute is a key material in Leather Galleria’s casual handbags. These are the firm’s flagship products and cater to the younger teenage market.

Drum bags, sling bags, haversacks and drawstring bags are available in combinations with leather. The latest collections also use suede.

The 8000 series had been selling well, said manager Catherine Tan. Five designs, predominantly in brown, are available. These include haversacks and slingbags made of jute with leather slings and handles.

Details like the length of the sling are adjustable according to buyer’s specifications. The bags sell for $10 to $20 each, FOB Singapore.

Each model in the patchwork inspired PO series comes in variety of colors. Brown, blue, green, red, purple and black suede and leather pieces are sewn together to give the bags a kaleidoscope effect. These bags sell from $20 to $35 each, FOB Singapore.

The company constantly produces new collections for the four seasons. During the wet winter season, the focus is on leather.

Leather Galleria also designs for the shoe industry. “When canvas becomes the in-thing in the shoe industry, we immediately import the material and start production,” explained Tan.

The firm set up a factory in Malaysia to cut overhead costs and increase production. “Buyers from all over the world are impressed with Leather Galleria’s products but find its prices high,” said Tan.

“Most of our skilled workers come from Malaysia, so we are simply moving location to keep prices down,” Tan added.

A team of five in-house designers develops new models every three months.

About 80 models are available for the export market.

All models carry the Leather Galleria label but buyer’s design specifications and OEM orders are also accepted.

Materials can be imported to meet buyer’s specifications. QC is performed on each bag before shipment.

Designs are released on a seasonal basis to overseas markets that include Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

The maker also produces leather briefcase, wallets, belts and key pouches.

Kamy Leather Products
Manufacturers (S) Pte Ltd

Established: 1990
Factory: Singapore
Capacity: 200 pcs monthly
Workforce: 26
Min. order: negotiable
Delivery: 60 days after confirmation
Fax: (65) 295-3332
Inquiry # FA0053

Kamey provides after-sales services and encourages customer feedback for its line of simple, elegant handbags made of crocodile and ostrich skins.

Handbag 1241-A is made of ostrich skin that is dyed in brown and is one of the firm’s fastest-moving designs.

Its features a sling for easy carrying and golden locking device and screws.

Another popular model is slim, black clutchbag. It features crocodile skin in varied textures.

The design and the size of the order dictate prices.

Buyers can choose from more than 80 models.

Chief executive K.B Tan is solely responsible for visualizing the designs. ‘However, clients may also submit their own specifications,” Tan added.

Trimming and cutting are done manually, while stitching is done by machine. The firm employs an in-house QC team.

Kamey imports most materials since Singapore does not breed crocodiles.

It participated for the first time in the Hong Kong Leather Goods Fair held in April 1995. About 80 percent of its total output is exported to Japan.

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