Artist Tobias Gutmann from Zurich interacts with Chinese fashion blogger Zhou Xiaochen and helps to create a personalized bag for her to carry, during a recent event in Beijing. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)
Two days after its worldwide premiere, the latest collection for Belgian bag brand, Kipling, made its China debut at APM Shopping Mall in Beijing on April 19.
Named Blank Canvas, the whole collection is designed with simplicity and minimalism in mind, mimicking an art canvas that leaves space and room for owners to create their own signature bags.
Watercolor pens and a set of stencil shapes come in a neat pouch free of charge with each bag.
At the launch event, artist Tobias Gutmann from Zurich was invited to fill the "canvas" with drawings.
Gutmann is known for his Face-O-Mat performances, using graphic elements and patterns to depict people's faces, drawing abstract interpretations of what he sees in faces, dubbed the "hand-drawn selfie".
Before he started to draw on the first bag for Zhou Xiaochen, a local fashion blogger, Gutmann asked three questions about her favorite season, weather and color.
In four minutes, he decorated the bag in light gray with a pink rainbow and a wavy line.
"We wish to provide people a blank canvas to express themselves," says Chen Jianping, general manager of Kipling in China.
"If Gutmann can express a piece of you through his drawing, why can't you do it yourself?"
The bag brand was founded in 1987 by three men in Antwerp, a city in northern Belgium: Paul Van de Velde, Vincent Haverbeke and Xavier Kegels.
The name Kipling was inspired by the Nobel Prize-winning author Rudyard Kipling, who wrote The Jungle Book, and stands for the spirit of fun and adventure.
The look of the bag is the result of an accident that happened the year the brand was founded.
A customer of the Belgian bag company that is winning over many young consumers in China with its simple features, lightness and functionality. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)
During the dyeing process the materials got overheated, leaving the nylon used in the bag design crinkled.
To embrace the error, they kept the textural effect as a signature of the brand's handbag designs and have used it ever since.
According to Kipling's official website, the bags are sold in over 60 countries and there are more than 650 retail stores worldwide.
Chen himself had been a fan of the sports bag since before he joined the company.
He says that the brand holds a market position, thanks to the crinkled nylon, the core and signature material that offers users lightness, comfort and functionality.
The brand's new slogan - "live light" - aims to establish a stronger emotional connection with consumers.
Following consumer research, Chen found that the public understands and agrees with the slogan and has a similar attitude to life - a desire to be free from burden.
Zhou, a fashion blogger in Beijing, shares her understanding of the slogan: "It gives me courage to maintain a relaxed attitude to life and to have curiosity because you can only follow fashion with a free soul."
Chen says consumers nowadays, especially millennials, who are believed to be the group with the strongest consumption power, are getting tired of leather goods.
"Leather goods need to be taken care of," says Chen, adding that his brand, on the contrary, is easy to maintain, ready "to face bad weather, humidity or other rigors".
The Belgian brand entered the Chinese market in 2014 and has a number of loyal customers, according to Chen, who adds that over 30 percent of the brand's bags around the globe are bought by Chinese shoppers.
And he says the brand plans to collaborate with Chinese brands to present traditional symbols on bags and launch such a collection globally.
HONG KONG NEWS