Ling Wu bag showroom as comfy as a living room

Bag designer Goh Ling Ling's showroom is where customers can browse her leather bags while sipping on a drink.
Bag designer Goh Ling Ling's showroom is where customers can browse her leather bags while sipping on a drink.PHOTO: GIN TAY FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

"I want people to come in and just live the brand and immerse themselves in it," says designer Goh Ling Ling, who is behind bag label Ling Wu, of her Chip Bee Gardens showroom.

The space on the second level of her home at 43 Jalan Merah Saga resembles a living room and customers can browse her exotic leather bags while sipping on a glass of prosecco or a cup of tea.

Ms Goh, 43, says: "My handbags are very tactile and people need to come in to feel them. Although a lot of people buy luxury items online, Singaporean customers like to see the product in person."

The mother of three, who started an online store for her designs in 2012, received many requests from shoppers asking if they could take a look at the bags before purchasing them.

She used to meet customers, mostly working women, either at her home, her customers' homes or at a cafe to show them her designs. She also has clients from the United States.

Her designs range from small crossbody bags to bigger functional work totes made with a variety of animal skins, such as calf leather and python skin. Prices start at US$350 (S$480) and go up to US$1,250 (S$1,710).

In 2013, she set aside a section of her office at the National Design Centre to showcase her bags. She opened her full-fledged showroom in Chip Bee Gardens in April.

"The showroom is complementary to my website," says Ms Goh, who plans to grow the e-commerce business. "A lot of customers here look at the bags online before coming to the showroom."

She also started selling her bags at department store Robinsons The Heeren in 2013 and at Tangs at Tang Plaza in 2014. However, she wanted a dedicated showroom away from the hustle and bustle of Orchard Road.

"The inspiration for my showroom came from shops in Japan, some of which are tucked away from the main street, making them more interesting and quaint.

"At department stores, I am constrained by their fittings and customers don't get to feel my brand. Here, they can feel it through the way the bags are displayed and set up, which makes a lot of difference."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2017, with the headline 'A bag showroom as comfy as a living room'. Print Edition | Subscribe