Where Do Handbags Come From?
Have you ever wondered where your designer handbag came from and what went in to making it? And how does a handbag go from an idea to a finished product and why do they cost so much? Bringing an African handbag or purse design to life is an involved process-and the higher the quality of the bag, the more thought goes into its creation. The process usually begins with a sketch; however before any drawings can move into production, the designer needs to consider the latest handbag trends to ensure that the finished product will fit into current styles, meet consumer demands and offer enough differentiation to make the bag unique from others on the market.
A skilled pattern maker will use the drawings to create a paper model or prototype of the bag and an official pattern that will be used to create the entire luxury handbag collection. But before the bags can be made, the materials and colors must be selected. For example, one handbag could come in several colors or types of leather, from soft, calfskin leather to ostrich. The silhouette plays an important role in selecting the type of leather; a structured shoulder bag should use a more durable and stiff leather while a hobo or slouchy handbag would use softer, more pliable leather. After the materials are selected, a leather cutter will cut the leather for each handbag and prepare it for stitching. This is a delicate process that requires a skilled leather worker, which contributes to the cost of an authentic handbag. Each piece must be cut perfectly to correspond to the handbag pattern-only an experienced leather cutter will know how to best work with specific types of leather to ensure that the end result is perfect.
The next step in making a handbag is stitching. A banconista or assembler will recreate the paper handbag model from the leather cutouts. The leather is either hand-stitched or stitched with a sewing machine. This job requires the utmost craftsmanship to be able to stitch fine, straight seems on leather, in particular more rigid leathers-one wrong stitch would leave a permanent mark in the leather, ruining the entire piece. The more details the handbag has-like hardware, and inner pockets-the more complicated the fabrication process. The final quality of a handbag is determined during this stage of the process. Any mistakes will affect how the bag looks and will hold up over time. The next stage is the finishing. The bag will still look different than the prototype, as it is missing hardware, zippers or closures. During this process, each handbag is inspected for defects and all hardware is added. The leather handbags are now ready for shipping. Each handbag is individually wrapped in a cloth bag ad shipped to the customer or boutique.
As you can see, manufacturing an authentic handbag is a lengthy and involved process. The cost of a handbag is determined by:
- The prestige of the brand
- Quality of materials used to make each handbag
- The experience of the leather artisans
- Production and facility costs
So the next time you’re shopping for a new luxury handbag, you’ll have a better understanding of what goes in to creating the finished product.
Amy Covington is a fashion writer with a penchant for silk scarves and luxury handbags. She always knew she wanted to be a writer and always loved fashion-and finally found a way to revel in both. Amy maintains three blogs for Belisi Fashions, a luxury brand based in Palm Beach. Updated daily, readers get a regular dose of fashion, health and lifestyle articles, product reviews and commentary.