Power list 2014: Bagging rights

Power list 2014: Bagging rights

Singapore, Hong Kong, London, Milan, Los Angeles and Miami. There is no rest in sight for in-demand bag designer Ethan Koh.

The London-based Singaporean has had a full year as founder and designer of five-year-old luxe accessories line Ethan K, known for brightly coloured bespoke crocodile skin bags with embellished clasps.

Nabbing coveted floor space in iconic retailers overseas and making a name for himself in the rarefied world of luxury has earned the home-grown designer a spot on the Power List for the first time.

In March, the brand became stocked exclusively in the United States at American department store Saks Fifth Avenue.

Its new president Marigay McKee, formerly of Harrods, is one of Koh's biggest champions, organising exclusive Ethan K trunk shows for VIP clients in cities across the United States.

The 28-year-old bachelor says in reflection: "It's been a year of growth. It's great to get all these stamps of approval."

The label, available in London, Moscow, Paris, Kiev, Dubai, Singapore, New York and Seoul, also opened its first standalone space in July on the ground floor of British shopping emporium Harrods.

Says Harrods' fashion director Helen Davis of the 200 sq foot space the store offered Koh: "With the growth we've seen over the past year with Ethan K, offering the brand a dedicated space was the natural thing to do."

And the space is doing well. In terms of sales, Ethan K is one of the top three luxury accessories lines at Harrods alongside powerhouses Valentino and Tom Ford, says a beaming Koh.

Despite the high price points - clutches retail from £2,000 (S$4,120) - many of the brand's high-net- worth clientele buy his bags in multiples.

Koh spends time with the women, listening to their stories and customising the bags accordingly, clinching their loyalty.

The de facto Singapore ambassador, who is working on a line of clasps inspired by the durian and other local fruits, is in it for the long haul.

"I think of myself more as a contemporary artist. Growth is good, but more than that, it's about these relationships."

This article was first published on Dec 14, 2014.
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