While our journey to discover the best materials for our collections
will be an ongoing one, our number one focus is to challenge the fashion
paradigm that animal products are essential for the design process.
We're not going to greenwash this situation. Our bags are not made of soil + sunshine. They are constructed from a good quality polyurethane (PU) which is a base fabric coated with a painted surface + then embossed with various textures. This is no single use catastrophe we're carrying around. Polyurethane (PU) is a highly resilient, flexible and durable material. It is a polymer joined by urethane links - used as a coating to give textiles a wide variety of properties including the ability to be water-resistant and anti-bacterial.
Invented in the late 1930s as a potential replacement for rubber (which was in short supply post WWI), PU has become a prolific material, used in everyday life (fridges, washing machines, car interiors...the list is long). The PU we utilise, does not use toxic levels of chemicals in production, with the fabrics adhering to the chemical standards of REACH + Prop65 (the Californian Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986). Synthetic alternatives to leather are less environmentally damaging than animal hide procurement, tanning + production - and hands down, more ethically sound.
We continue to source + sample alternatives - with our next step being, to use more (primarily) plant based + recycled materials. When we say 'primarily' in relation to plant based, we refer to the fact that for a plant based fabric for fashion handbag construction to have longevity + remain 'good looking' it does generally need to have a coating of some description, and this is typically a polymer of some sort.
We use both acrylic and cellulosic acetate in trims + charms in our collections. Acrylic is a plastic, and was developed in the 1920s, as a shatterproof alternative to glass. Other names for acrylic - Plexiglas, Acrylite, Perspex & Lucite – are all trademarked names. Acrylic is thermoplastic + becomes malleable under high heat, as a result, we are able to mould it into shapes such as our distinctive luggage handle. Cellulosic acetate was created in the late 1800s + refined further in the early 20th century. Cellulosic acetate has a long winded construction, but in simple terms – it’s a combination of wood pulp (the cellulosic part) + a mixed bag of chemical compounds. It offers transparency, a beautiful colour spectrum, flexibility + is hypoallergenic. It’s been utilised for film, fabric, lacquer + eyewear over the years.
Used for its strength + durability, alloy is a metallic substance made by mixing two or more metals (or a metal and nonmetal), to obtain desirable qualities such as hardness, lightness + strength. Our custom hardware is made from zinc alloy and then plated in a variety of tones depending on the item we are trimming. Our metal straps are made from robust + super strong steel, an alloy of iron + carbon.
SING FAI HANDBAG + METAL LTD, LI'S INDUSTRIAL ESTATE, QIAOLI VILLAGE, CHANGPING TOWN, DONGGUAN CITY, GUANGDONG, CHINA
We work with Tony Lee + his team, at their family run facility in the Changping region of Dongguan. Cathryn, our founder, has been working with Tony for over a decade, and through this time, they have built a solid + trusting relationship. Sing Fai are a relatively small factory, in comparison to many handbag factories, however they do have several large customers across the US, Australia + Europe. Workers are paid above the regional award rate + as is standard practise in China factories, accommodation + meals are provided as part of their employment contract. We visit the factory 4 times a year, to work with the team on sampling, sourcing + production. You can get an insight to the production process, By watching 'A Makers' View' films.