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My bf used to be in the PR industry and he told me about Kwanpen and how I should look it up.
So, the curious Chulet went to check out this shop in Starhill.

The bag’s skin and details are amazing. They have so many different designs and exotic skins.. And the color are so delightful and unique !!

While browsing, I noticed some of the bags are exact copies of Hermes’ Birkin and Kelly.

So, I started talking to the lady there.

“Erm… isn’t this like copy of Birkin” – Chulet picking up this gorgeous pinkish purple-ish ostrich skin birkin. (Pardon me if I got the color wrong – BTW, my camera gives a yellow tinge ;oP so, the color from the snapshot isn’t exactly the real color )

Quick snapshot

She smile and answer me.

“YES – it is”

Chulet paused O___O ( ok….why is this in Starhill – since when they allow copy-cats in Starhill (Starhill being this rather posh and upscale shopping area)

Checking out the bag, I note that the skin is really really REALLY really soft and the feel of running your fingers across is just yummMMmy ;oP

I checked the inside of the bag and it is with soft calf leather and side zipper on both side. Nice !! (So many bags nowadays are with cloth lining instead). The steel buckles are made in Italy !!  (Not CHINA! *surprised*)

Other things aside (being a copy and all), taking into consideration that it is really a very good quality bag and … surprise surprise !! The price was quite reasonable too, in my opinion.

This cute little bag only cost about RM 2,400 (USD 650 or EUR 500).

Would you have considered? ( I know many hardcore fans will faint to even let such thoughts linger in their minds… ) ;o)

While checking out this bag, the lady continued to launch into some really interesting information.

She mentioned that Kwanpen which is a Singapore based OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) that produces exotic skinned bag for many big brands out there. All the manufacturing of the bag is done in Singapore and they provide lifetime warranty to their customer !!  (wait – isn’t there such thing as business ethics? or code or non-disclosure, non-copy agreement? … and.. wait .. lifetime warranty ?  WOW  !!)

Sensing my pause, she continued with her story about the owner of this brand, Mr. Kwanpen. ( OO.. so, the owner’s name is Kwanpen)

According to her (pls note that this is not my words – I am only retelling the story) Mr. Kwanpen was actually there together with the Hermes team to slave over the design the first design of the Birkin bag for Jane Birkin.

As explained by her, Kwanpen started out as OEM of exotic skin bags for Hermes.

Upon Hermes management change, their business strategy changed as well. One explanation to that, I believe, is to have a total control on the quality of the bag and also to be able to control the number of bags produced at any one time. This means that buyers will have to wait for their turn to get the bag they want. This will sort of increase the craze and demand for the bag. That way, it will seem like the bag is truly rare.. Personally, Chulet thinks that is brilliant business plan indeed!!

But then, I have never been a very patient person.. I don’t know how I would feel after waiting for like 3 years for the bag. When I get it, will it still feel the same? OR would there be another bag I am crazy over by then? ( I mean, before Birkin, most people were crazy for Kelly bags, rite? ) And I suspect the same bag with Hermes logo on it would probably caused between USD 10k – 20k. Interesting what money we are willing to pay for brand and recognition from our peers.. ;oP

Anyway, back to Kwanpen…

So, is this a case of the spurned manufacturer getting tired of their customer taking away part of their contribution (which makes the something successful) or just a man hoping to make his mark in the world? (If the story is correct – he might feel that he plays a part in the creation of the bag) And will Kwanpen be able to pull it off ??

Apart from Kwanpen, another classic story of OEM turned internationally known brand name is HTC.

HTC was originally the OEM for Dopod and O2, before, they decided to launch into the mobile phone market themselves.

In fact, more and more OEMs are now trying to carry their own products in their own name.

Personally, I think this is actually quite a good thing for us consumers. Some goods produced (really good quality goods) are priced way beyond their cost price (just because of the brand attached to it) If the price is 50% more, I might not have mind so much. But, certain brands actually sell between 10 – 100 times more !!! YES – sad but true.

BTW, I also learned during my little trip that there’s a big difference between a copy and an imitation. ;oP

Since Kwanpen kept their own name on the bag – it can only be call a copy and not an imitation … hahaaa.. nice one.

All in all, it was definitely an interesting trip.