21 Nov 2023
Five female designers and owners of leading Thai leather goods brands presented their signature bag collections and shared their success stories and love for leather goods at APLF ASEAN 2023 with interesting perspectives on the future of the Thai leather industry and helpful advice to new designers.
The world-class leather exhibition APLF ASEAN 2023 was held at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, Bangkok, between 25 and 27 October 2023. An important part of the event was the APLF ASEAN Top Leather Good Designers seminar, which was held with the honor of five renowned designers of leather goods brands in ASEAN: Ms. Boonyanuch Vittayasamrit from 31 THANWA, Ms. Fundao Baesakul from FUNDAO, Ms. Sasithorn Premchit from LUNNE, Ms. Nasha Mekraksavanich from NASHA, and Ms. Jiratchaya Winyoopradist from XOTIQUE shared their views and success stories.
Despite the fact that some of them did not graduate directly from the fashion faculty, their love of fashion and leather goods led them to pursue this career path. Bunyanuch is a graduate of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Architecture. She was, however, born into a family of shoemakers. In this way, she was able to combine knowledge and a passion for both. She credits her father as the most influential teacher of her life, as well as the head craftsman in the family business. Each 31 THANWA bag is unique today, giving customers the option of choosing colors and styles. Each bag is handcrafted by one individual. Customers will also have the opportunity to learn the story of the maker when purchasing.
Ms. Fundao graduated with a degree in accounting from Chulalongkorn University before continuing her studies at ARSUTORIA in Milan, where she gained extensive experience working with numerous brands. Similarly, Ms. Nasha, after graduating from ARSUTORIA, started her own brand in 2013, during Paris Fashion Week.
The company XOTIQUE was founded by Ms. Jiratchaya out of her passion for merchandising and bags. Due to the success of selling bags, the brand has evolved into what it is today. In the case of Sasithorn, her fashion journey began earlier than those of the others. Since graduating from Chulalongkorn University in design, she has also worked for a number of different brands. It provided her with the opportunity to experiment with a variety of materials and techniques.
In discussing the inspiration behind their new SIGNATURE collection, Ms. Jiratchaya revealed that her most recent pieces are in the TACTICAL style. Their lightweight design makes them suitable for both everyday use and special occasions. As Ms. Boonyanuch describes the brand’s history, it evolved from the family’s leather shoe making business, which was passed down for more than 80 years. Due to this, bag designs were created that incorporate shoemaking techniques that ensure durability and strength, as well as a distinctive appearance.
Meanwhile, Ms. Fundao’s brand, FUNDAO, is influenced by nature. She believes that nature and humans complement each other. As a result, the artwork created based on nature’s concept will remain timeless for a long time to come. Ms. Nasha’s NASHA brand is driven by intense creativity, so each bag is like a work of art that stands out and attracts attention. Lastly, Ms. Sasithorn’s brand LUNNE’ is described, which creates functional works that are timeless and of high quality.
The Future of Leather Goods and The Thai Fashion Industry
According to Ms. Jiratchaya, leather goods are very durable products and will be an indispensable part of our everyday lives and will continue to evolve with the fashion trends. She concludes, “A bag can be used for 50-60 years and become a vintage item.”
For Ms. Bunyanuch, collaboration between brands is the future of the fashion industry. There may be a clothing brand and a leather goods brand, or leather goods may be associated with a lifestyle brand. By doing so, people will be able to see the potential of leather in everyday life.
Ms. Fundao, meanwhile, worries about the environment. There is a growing awareness about the environment, and her brand FUNDAO uses leather from factories that have been LWG-certified to ensure that no harm is done to the environment. “What we build in the future must not have any adverse effect on humans or the environment,” Fundao stated.
As Ms. Nasha noted, the industry has developed quite a bit since 10 years ago. There are now new brands that offer better quality. Thus, she believes that Thai leather goods have a bright future due to the superior skills and materials of Thais.
Finally, Ms. Sasithorn of the brand LUNNE’ believes that leather products will continue to be popular in the future. In addition to having a unique texture, these products also have a distinctive smell. Also, as sustainability trends increase, eco-leather will become more popular among designers and consumers.
Support From the Public and Private Sectors
To prepare the younger generation to become designers, Ms. Jiratchaya suggests contacting the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP), which often organizes seminars and training sessions. Additionally, there is the opportunity to participate in trade events overseas at special rates. It is her secret that you should not be afraid to try it.
The owner of 31 THANWA, Ms. Boonyanuch, would like to see several agencies build a bridge between designers and manufacturers. This will enable the business to grow rapidly. Adding to this, Ms. Nasha from NASHA stated that the brand would be global if we were able to connect manufacturers with designers and designers with trade shows. A foundation should be laid for new designers in the fashion business as well.
In addition, Ms. Fundao calls for the development of cutting-edge manufacturing technology that will allow designers to create without limitations and push their brands to new heights. The last recommendation Ms. Sasithorn makes is that the public and private sectors should organize workshops or seminars to provide knowledge to the general public. Moreover, there should be contests to award prize money to designers to enable the younger generation to start their own businesses.
Advice For Starting A Brand
In conclusion, these 5 female designers offer valuable advice to the younger generation interested in starting a business. Ms. Jiratchaya is dedicated to building a brand utilizing high-quality materials. This will enable customers to remember that this brand uses high-quality products and has a well-designed logo. For Ms. Boonyanuch, learning how to observe materials and learn various techniques from other brands is an essential skill for future generations of designers. Furthermore, she would like them to create a sample piece created by themselves, which will facilitate communication with the manufacturer.
As well as the above, Ms. Fundao, Ms. Nasha, and Ms. Sasithorn agreed that it is important for new designers to identify their own values and strengths. This will allow it to grow into a business as well as position the brand accordingly to the market’s strengths and needs.
Designers’ Profile can be found on https://www.aplf.com/aplf-asean-2024/top-asean-leather-goods-designers/