Occupying two units in Burlington Arcade, Kwanpen are specialists in crocodile leather shoes, bags, and accessories. Exclusively handmade in Singapore, their craftsmen undergo a rigorous apprenticeship to learn the trade under the eye of a Master Craftsman who has over 20 years’ experience. Once they are ready, they can then get to work on the minimum 30 man-hours that go into each product, finally stamping it with the handmade logo. The hardware for their bags is designed in Singapore and made in Italy with 18K gold or palladium plating.
The collection covers luxury items designed for men and women, often in their signature bright colours with a glossy finish and minimal design details that let the leather make the statement. From formal and casual shoes, to belts, briefcases, card holders, clutch bags, and keyrings, the choice is extensive and the quality consistent. There’s even a small line of statement crocodile skin embellished jewellery. Their long-serving hero product is the Raffles handbag, a mid-sized, short handled design with a metal clasp and detachable shoulder strap, in continuous production since 1991.
Kwanpen only has two stores in Europe, the other in Turkey, making their products even more exclusive to get hold of. To celebrate the opening of their first UK store in 2015, Kwanpen launched the Raffles 1819 bag, a tribute to the opening year of Burlington Arcade, the founding year of Singapore and a play on their new address at number 18-19 on the shopping stretch.
The company was founded in 1938, and still remains family owned and run. As well as designing their own range, their expertise in exotic leather manufacturing has meant that they are also a supplier to luxury Western labels, producing to the high standards required. They are a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Crocodile Specialist Group and are committed to only sourcing skin certified by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).