Friday, 18 June 2010

Naraya Bags/ Taiwan Travel 2010

Back from honeymoon in Taiwan, i was amazed to discover a SEA fashion phenomenon over there. Besides being hugely influence by every Japanese fashion trend, the Taiwanese it seems have taken a liking to the humble made in Thailand Naraya bag.

For those who are thinking 'What the hell are Naraya bags?'. Here's a little history. For those who do know, congratulations! You are most definitely female.

NaRaYa (thats how the brand is supposed to be spelt with capitals and all) was the brainchild of a Thai- Chinese woman called Khun Wasna and a Greek businessman Vassilios Lathouras. Khun Wasna came from a Chinese-Thai family who owned a grocery store in Thailand and worked as a tour guide while Vassilios (seriously having problems spelling this) was in Thailand to find his fortune. He met this particular tour guide fell in love, developed Narai intertrade and the rest is history.

NaRaYa the name, originated from the Hindu God Phra Narai, more commonly known as Vishnu.The name was auspicious and was easy to pronounce by speakers of different languages.
They started with less than 20 sewing machines and sold their products from a 2 square metre booth at the basement of Narayana Phand Bazaar.Today their bags can be found all over the world and hence why i saw it in abundance in Fun Taiwan.

(All NaRaYa facts credited to the official website here)

And this is what a NaRaYa bag looks like.

Simple cloth bags with diamond stitching and a humongous bow. Something that looked like it could have been whipped up at home-ec class.

I was perturbed at first. Why was this bag so popular in Taiwan? So much so i could not help but take pictures of innocent passer-by's flashing the big-bow-bag.

In the MRT.

In the MRT station.

On the streets.

Even from the back you could tell it was a Naraya bag from the material, and bag structure.

Even men were not spared.

Why? Where were these Taiwanese people getting their supply of Thailand bags? Did they really all go to Thailand?

Then i found my answer.

They had a bloody Naraya shop in Taipei.. no make that two. I saw one in Danshui old street and another one i forgot where in Taipei.

Of course with all things popular you can't run away from fakes.

Seen at the night market. Imitation Naraya's?

Seriously perplexed. Have been seeing people buying loads of Naraya's in Thailand but never understood why. I really do not see the appeal. Big cheesy bow, diamond stitching which i did in 'Kemahiran Hidup' in form 3, and it did not look all that durable. 

But, hmm.. if the Taiwanese are buying it, there must be something i've been missing.

As i could not figure this out alone, i had to consult my personal fashion guru, and newly minted husband, JH.

'It's simple,' he said. 'The monogrammed look is in.'
'Huh? Where got monogram?'

'The diamond stitching looks like a monogram. ' 

'What?' I stared incredulously. 'Where got look like a monogram?' At this point LV's and Gucci's flooded my mind.

'Aiya, something like that what. Plus the bow lets people know it is a NaRaYa. People want something recognizable at a cheaper price.' He concludes.

'Plus,' he goes on, 'It looks quite nice, and its light.'

'Whats wrong with...' i started before i felt a heavy burden that was my bag on my shoulders. 'Oh.. i guess lightness is a really strong point. Something like a LeSportSac.'

'Exactly.' fashion guru ends the debate.

So i guess, i do see the appeal.

And this, was fashion guru's buy a few days later.



shinchee said...

even NaRaYa in chinese is called 'man gu bao' which literally means Bangkok's Bag...

so after all those discussions u finally got one for urself heh? hehe...

saltvinegar said...

Ooh so it's called man gu bao.. i din noe.. damn popular lor..

But no la i din get one for myself. JH got 3 for himself hahahaha. To give his mom and sis-in-laws.

Carrie said...

wow.. nice bags... how much for one?

saltvinegar said...

HI Carrie,
Its about RM 30- RM40 each in Taiwan depending on the type and size of bag.

Anonymous said...

Hi Saltvinegar,

I going to Taiwan soon, do you know where to get cath kidston's bag?


saltvinegar said...


Gave fun in TAiwan! I saw the Cath KIdston range in a department store (rather high end department store) near Taipei Main Station. But i cannot remember the name of the store. Really sorry!

LauraLeia said...

Hahahahaha! I like your fashion guru's answers! XD

I also cant really see why it's so popular. I mean, I can sort of understand, coz it's cute and comes in many colours, but honest, the bigger ones look like bags that women carry around their baby supplies in. @_@ The smaller ones will be good for casual shopping though, i guess. XD plus they're pretty cheap. :)


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