Sunday, April 17, 2011

Singapore brand carves niche in luxury market

Mr Leonard Kwan (above), president of Kwanpen, says the Kwanpen brand signified 'a crocodile-skin bag of the best value and quality'. -- ST PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM

SINGAPORE - IN A luxury industry dominated by famous European brands, a Singapore company is making inroads with an exclusive line of colourful handbags made from crocodile skin.

Selling for as much as US$20,000 (S$24,800) apiece, Kwanpen bags are made in a spacious, brightly lit workroom where about 50 staff work meticulously to meet the exacting demands of fashionable women the world over.

Kwanpen is a family-owned enterprise operating in one of Singapore's industrial suburbs, the only luxury leather goods brand from a city-state better known for electronics, petrochemicals and finance.

'It's not mass production,' company president Leonard Kwan told AFP, beaming with pride at samples of the products named after his late father, who started the business in the 1960s.

'The Kwanpen brand signifies a crocodile-skin bag of the best value and quality.' Fashion trend spotters say Kwanpen bags are highly sought after in Hong Kong, one of the world's top markets for luxury goods, and are desired by women not just for their fine craftsmanship but their rarity too.

Chinese screen siren Gong Li has been seen carrying them. It can take up to 50 man-hours to produce one Kwanpen bag and no more than 400 pieces are shipped in any given month. The company, also a contract manufacturer for European luxury brands that it cannot reveal, declined to give annual revenue figures but says it has had to turn down orders to maintain its production standards. 
-- AFP

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