Despite growing consumer demand, professional cleaning for bags and shoes is still a niche industry as it requires specialised expertise and technology, says Ms Grace Kung, business owner of Bag Shoe Cleaning Sanctuary, a professional cleaning service provider that started in 2012.
SURGE IN DEMAND
Singaporeans’ increasing affluence has led to a surge in demand for their services, say operators.
They report seeing more luxury branded bags being sent in for servicing – Coach, Chanel, Prada, Gucci and Hermes bags, in particular. They estimate that branded totes make up about 70 per cent of the bags they handle.
According to Grace, “As people are more well-informed and educated, they tend to become more brand-conscious. The prevalence of social media also encourages consumerism among the younger crowd and many students own branded goods now.”
Only 10 per cent of her store’s walk-in customers request shoe cleaning services, with 90 per cent opting for bag cleaning.
Shoes are perceived to be less complex and easier to clean so most owners do it themselves. But luxury bags are more expensive and owners would rather send them for professional cleaning.
With stiff competition in a niche industry, operators are constantly rolling out new products and looking for ways to improve their services.
However, it still recommends that customers bring in their items for a professional cleaning every six months.
NOT EASY, BUT SATISFYING
The industry comes with its own set of challenges. Handling the prized possessions of customers is never easy, especially when one is faced with the task of removing difficult stains like vomit stains or odour etc
Bags made of unconventional materials, such as ostrich skin and python skin, are also difficult to treat as they are more delicate and tend to crack more easily.
Operators say they will accept only jobs that they can handle, and they strive to make sure customers understand the limitations of their services.