Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

When fashion gains a conscience

Posted by Kimberly on June 6, 2007

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
June 6, 2007, page 2 (666 pages)

When Macau Bannerbags first launched their environmentally friendly collection last year, the company was astute enough to do so on June 5, World Environment Day. This year the bags was launched again at the Centre for Creative Industries yesterday, with the company hoping to repeat their first year’s success.
The three-person band, Miguel Quental, Sofia Bobone and Cristina Tavares are marking their first anniversary with confidently-crossed fingers.
Considering that all three have day jobs, this “pet project” of theirs have been very successful, currently exporting to Portugal, as well as selling in stores within Macau.
“I’m telling you, last year we sold 70 bags in two hours. It was crazy!” said Ms Tavares.
Due to the launch last year in conjunction with World Environment Day, the company received plenty of coverage from the media, “which actually helped because at 9 pm, a Chinese lady just came in because she had seen in on the news and she liked it so much that she raced here to see if she could purchase one,” said Ms Tavares.
With the brand name being self explanatory, the company name, FaiMat isn’t as clear. When questioned about this, Ms Tavares said, “actually we were looking for the Chinese word for recycling but it was too big. It didn’t sound right, so this actually means ‘garbage’ but in a good way, not trash .
“You see it’s something that was going to be garbage but has been put to good use,” she said.
The current collection houses seven styles, with two styles being brought over from last year. Asked which style is her favourite, designer Sofia Bobone admits to the very first one.
“It’s very special for me. It was the oval one. But I like the one with the bamboo. I think it has a very oriental feeling,” she said.
The launch itself has 145 bags on display available for purchase at a reduced rate between 120 and 150 patacas only until tomorrow, after which time the price will return to normal, usually between 150 and 250 patacas..
The idea for the company came about with Miguel Quental producing a great deal of banners. The idea had been done in a company inn Barcelona, where they were recycling the banners into fashion accessories.
“So we thought that this was a very good idea, given that in Macau, every service, every department, every exhibition, gets their own banners in the street.
“We thought this was a very good way to recycle them by giving them a new lease of life,” said Ms Tavares.
While the bags cannot be purchased on the company’s website, potential customers can email their request and have their purchases shipped to them.
There is also the opportunity to personalise a bag whereby the customer can bring in their own banner and create a bag that is suitable for them.
There are no plans for a shop although the company is aiming to break into the Hong Kong market. That will be the first challenge set for this year. The second challenge “is to find people to work with, like in conferences instead of just the shops who buy the bags,” said Ms Bobone.
Ms Bobone also hopes they can sell the idea of a helmet bag, a prototype belonging to famous racing driver Andre Couto, for the Macau Grand Prix to Tourism Office.
“ They can give them as a souvenir to lots of people, not just to the drivers,” she says.
Each bag does have a name but not something to be taken seriously, said Ms Tavares with a laugh.
“We have the oval shaped one called ‘oval’ because its oval! There’s the Bambu bag, [because it has a bamboo handle]. It’s not serious! It’s more of a reference thing, a funny thing!” she said.
With the company recently having won a bid to obtain the banners from the Civic & Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM), Macau Bannerbags is surely on its way to an incredible second year.

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