Meet the woman behind Singapore’s newest entrant in the exotic bag category

The bags that Yuki Yang designs are objects of luxury. You can tell from the sturdy feel of the leathers and exotic skins that are used in the making of the bags, and their smooth edges and clean lines that could only have been achieved at the hands of seasoned craftsmen.

But the bag that started her journey to becoming a designer is much humbler. “It was an ordinary canvas messenger bag with a red pentagram printed on it,” says the founder and creative director of home‑grown luxury bag label Abara, on the gift that she received from her grandmother on her first day of elementary school. “It wasn’t that often that I was given gifts, and this was extra special because finally, I got the first bag of my life!”

Don’t miss: Kylie Jenner Is Officially a Fan of This Emerging Singapore Fashion Brand

It may not have been crafted from leather, but it was certainly a luxury for Yang, who grew up amid the forest-filled landscapes of Hunan in China. “I carried that bag with me everywhere I went because it was all that I possessed at that time,” she recalls. “It was with me throughout my school life and accompanied me over many mountains—both literally and metaphorically.”

The peak of that metaphorical mountain is Abara, Yang’s very own fashion business, which she launched in 2021. Getting there was an arduous climb. In 2005, she left Hunan for Shanghai, where skyscrapers replaced the mountains of her youth and she could pursue material pleasures—namely, fashion.

Read more: Carina Lau Rumoured to Sell Shanghai Penthouse for US$28.4 Million—Take a Look Inside Her Real Estate Empire

Mixing business with pleasure, Yang began reselling luxury bags to Shanghai’s stylish society members and later, repairing and restoring them as well. It speaks to Yang’s shrewdness that this was years before the second-hand luxury fashion market became as saturated as it is today.

In 2010, Yang decided to expand her resale business and traded Shanghai for another metropolis: Singapore. “I came here because the country seemed wide open to the world,” explains Yang. “I was sure that anything that had to do with luxury would take root because there’s an appetite for all things fine and fashionable.”

In case you missed it: 14 Stylish New Restaurants in Singapore to Visit in 2022

But Yang wanted to do more. “I’ve dreamed of being a designer since I was a child,” she shares. “Although I have engaged in a lot of work that’s unrelated to design, that dream has always been in my mind and I’ve never given it up.”

 

With Abara, Yang came full circle. All her years in the fashion industry gave her an intimate understanding of what made a luxury bag and she sought the right people to create hers. She assembled a team of craftsmen in Singapore who specialise in crocodile leather and their expertise is evident on Abara’s bags, where the scales of leathers are perfectly aligned to follow the symmetry of each design.

She also found a local tannery that supplies exotic leathers such as crocodile and alligator skins to some of the top luxury fashion brands in the world. With access to the tannery, Yang is able to offer her clients full reign over the look and feel of their bespoke bags. Besides colours, they can choose from three leather finishes that are exclusive to Abara: the antique finish, which adds a slight sheen to matte leather; the glazed finish, which transforms bags with an irresistible glossy shine; and the snow antique finish, which uses rare albino crocodile skin that has been dyed to mimic the snowy façade of the Himalayan mountains.

That Yang is attuned to what women want is clear from Abara’s first collection of ready-made bags released this year. A standout is the Tr’Apeze, a timeless structured handbag that is fitted with gussets to offer more space. There are also simple tote bags embellished with a detachable mini pouch, should you want your AirPods within reach.

Even with their modern touches, Abara’s bags are meant to be treasured for life. The Bow Bag is the perfect example. Yang’s first design, created because she wanted to have a bag to match with her daughter, is marked by a playful, bow-shaped flap and the fact that it comes with a mini version.

Read more: 10 Best Handbag Investments of All Time

In Yang’s world, bags are much more than stylish accessories. Speaking about the canvas bag that she received as a child and still owns, she says: “To me, it contained all the unexpressed wishes and aspirations that my grandma and mother held for me. It contained their dreams for a better life, and that bag inspired me to grow up speedily and learn to be independent.”

Adds Yang: “I hope this courage can be passed on to my daughter, so that she can also be unafraid of life’s hardships. I want her to be fearless!”

NOW READ

Skin-Inspired Tote Bags and More Creative Japanese Designs at Maison & Objet 2022

The Best Luxury Tote Bags From Chanel, Saint Laurent and More

What Can You Actually Put Inside Coperni’s Viral Glass Bags?

  • PhotographyDarren Gabriel Leow
  • HairCharmaine Lin
  • Make-UpCharmaine Lin
Tatler Asia
© 2022 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.