SCHOOL OF CROC
Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but a luxury crocodile-leather handbag is snapping at their heels.
The Bangkok-based brand S’uvimol makes accessories in bold shapes from rare exotic skins, including crocodile, python, ostrich and lizard. “Our customers value the fine quality of our skins and finished products,” says Patacharapimol Youngprapakorn – Pat – the company’s owner and creative director.
S’uvimol creates statement pieces that are designed and built to last. It’s a family business too. Pat’s father started Thailand’s first crocodile farm in the 1950s, selling to influential international fashion houses and building a reputation for ethical breeding and high quality. Following in his footsteps, Pat and her siblings opened their own crocodile farm in 1999 and launched S’uvimol – named after their mother – in 2011. Today, Pat’s four children, all internationally trained designers, work with her.
“Working with family is totally different to working for someone else,” she says. “It’s a comfortable environment where everyone feels confident to share opinions. My children can express their thoughts and ideas 100 per cent. We make products that fill our hearts first, then think about money later. That’s the ethos we share.” It’s in stark contrast to most successful fashion brands, she agrees. “Many design houses create whatever they feel their customers are looking for – but, in doing so, they risk losing their identity. We want to create things that are new to the market.”
The company’s Thai credentials are crucial, too, not just in terms of producing the skins. “All our handbags are designed by Thai people and made by Thai craftsmen,” says Pat. “Thai art is known to be very precise, everything is made by hand. Thai people have trained to produce incredibly detailed art and crafts throughout history.”
Further, as Pat farms her own crocodiles, she can personally vouch for the standard of her skins. “The best quality skins are essential to developing a very fine finished product,” she says. “Customers also believe in the S’uvimol family.” Their reputation is owed partly to the family’s history of crocodile farming, but also to its design training. “We are confident designers and we know what works. People trust us to help them develop their style.
“S’uvimol is guided by geometry,” says Pat, describing the brand. The two flagship designs – SquareF and My Sweet Box – are clean, chunky squares. “We want to minimize fuss,” she says. “Less is more. When you have the most precious skins, you don’t need to add too many details. You don’t want to hide the beauty of the skins.” The shapes are practical too. “They’re structural, so it is easy to pack items into them. They always look super-organized.”
The popularity of the S’uvimol brand has grown rapidly. The bags have been spied on the arm of many a Western fashionista, including Vogue’s Anna Dello Russo and British singer Pixie Lott. Currently available online and throughout Thailand, the men’s and women’s lines are popular throughout Asia and S’uvimol recently opened a branch in Robinson Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. “Arabian and Thai fans are particularly excited when we launch a new design,” says Pat. S’uvimol will soon launch its ready-to-wear shoe, also made from exotic leathers.
“Our muses are open-minded, strong and successful people,” says Pat. “They have a good attitude: they’re hardworking, kind and stylish at the same time.” What more could anyone look for in a best friend?