Most of us may have seen designer handbags worn and shown around by celebrities and other famous personalities. These bags aren’t just any bags - they’re luxury handbags that come with a hefty price, crafted by the best artisans out there. These high-quality products promise prestige and sturdiness that will last a lifetime, as well as returns in the secondary market. All of these are because of the expertise the artisans have put in creating each handbag.
So how are luxury handbags made? Skilled artisans and designers will first sketch handbag designs, brainstorming the best materials and hardware to choose. They will then create a prototype and proceed with manufacturing the bag, starting with cutting leather or any other material with the utmost precision. They will then put the body, the strap, and the details together by sewing them by hand.
Step-By-Step Process of Creating Luxury Handbags
Brand recognition and exclusivity aside, the work that the best artisans put in for crafting a high-end handbag contributes to the exorbitant price of these pieces. Making luxury handbags usually starts with designers and artisans sketching their designs.
They will create a prototype and proceed with making the product itself. In manufacturing the product, the artisans start cutting the material for the body and strap, sewing them together, and adding the details.
1) Designing the Handbag
Before luxury handbag brands craft a piece, they first undergo the design process where designers and experts work and deliberate on the handbag designs. During this process, they plan the overall look of the handbag, from its material to the details and hardware. They will also discuss the bag's use and size to know if the customers will like it and appreciate its usability.
Designers conceptualize the luxury handbags first with a design sketch drawn on the software programs they use. They will then print its mock version, complete with accurate sizing before producing the sample. Since they have already drafted the design with its measurements, they may now time the amount of labor and cost required per piece.
The designers then refine the handbag design, studying the trends by applying avant-garde colors and styles. What most luxury handbag brands do is adapt to these trends to catch the interests of the consumers while maintaining the exclusivity and the hallmark that their brands have.
Choosing the Skin
Trends are not the only factor they need to account for, but also the perfect kind of animal skin. Each animal skin has different characteristics that may not match the bag's style. The skin or leather is a necessary factor when considering the use of the bag as well. Each of the leather types is only applicable to certain types of handbags.
The expert leather craftsmen in the artisan handbag industry assess the best models created by the design team. They will then decide which creation will be suitable for the types of leather used for the collection.
Luxury handbags made with alligator skin are usually those with a structured or rigid design. Alligator skin is the material used mostly for handbag collections because of its firm and thick material. It's also pretty durable and can also pass as material for shoes.
Snakeskin is characterized by having soft and supple leather, like ostrich skin. It also scratches and dries up easily. The artisans will explore designs to maximize the material's softness without crafting a bag prone to scratching.
Choosing the Hardware
The type of metal for the hardware will also be a big factor in the design of the handbag. These make up the buckles, zippers, feet, and other metals found on a bag. There are many varieties of types of hardware, but they usually use those from gold and ruthenium.
Luxury bags use many gold variants - shiny gold, pale gold, matte gold, rose gold, and antique gold, among others. Each shade or tone of gold gives different looks and vibes in a luxury handbag.
This metal is a type of platinum used for giving luxury handbags a cooler tone than gold hardware. It offers a white and silvery look that’s perfect for brightly-colored bags.
2) Creating A Prototype
Creating a prototype is one of the most important steps in producing a luxury handbag. This process is done either by experts in creating leather materials or highly-trained pattern-maker. They start by transferring the sketches of the design team on paper. Here, they create its exact prototype - this is where the bag they had designed starts to take shape.
3) Cutting the Material
Once the handbag receives a go-signal for its manufacturing process, the artisans will then prepare the materials. The techniques needed for cutting the leather are complicated but it's crucial for achieving the desired results.
The leather cutter cuts the leather or the chosen material for the luxury handbag with the utmost skill and precision to prepare it for stretching. This process isn’t as simple as cutting any other fabric.
Leather cutters must also be highly experienced with creating items with leather. They need to strategize on the best ways to cut the leather and make the most out of every resource they have. It concerns avoiding wasting too much leather due to errors.
Leather cutters should also know the qualities of the material they're working on: they must catch if there are any defects needed to be addressed. They cut the leather by hand, which is more difficult for rarer types of bags. A single mistake means a lot of money lost, so they have to get it right the first time.
They then cut the leather according to the design from the prototype. From here, leather cutters need to match the design of the prototype to the pattern of the animal skin.
Cutting by Hand
Cutting by hand is the traditional way of preparing leather. This method gives a more perfect and error-proof finish because the valuable material is handled by highly-trained experts who pay very close attention to evenness, symmetry, and other intricacies in luxury bag making.
Those needing to combine multiple pieces of leather or any type of material may use a laser for cutting. This method will give the bags with multiple layers a 3D look. Cutting with a laser also allows for more precision and gives the artisans the exact size of the handbag.
4) Creating the Body and Strap
A skilled artisan - usually an Italian artisan because of their exceptional training - creates luxury handbags from the 5 sections cut by the leather cutters: front, back, sides, and bottom. They’ll arrange these sections into the bag's model and fasten them at the sides to keep them in place while stitching.
They sew each piece together by hand, even if the leather is a tougher fabric than a textile or any other material. It's also important to sew leather slowly because artisans put together more than 3 layers of leather to make the handbag more solid. The artisans will then clip the excess leather from the sides of the designer bag. Creating the strap depends on the model of the purse. Artisans usually cut 2 long pieces of leather material.
Artisans can also employ a technique called cork stitching, which refers to stitching the pieces of the bag together with a cork. Experts soften it for a more polished look and attach tassels at the sides. The knots from these tassels will keep the paper or the pattern in place to provide the guide for stitching.
5) Creating the Details
The hardware will add detail to high-end bags - these are buckles, feet, and zippers. Other accessories they consider are patterns, fabric, and other designs. For patterned designs, the artisans will cut the pieces from the fabric and clamp on the leather for stitching. They then attach the zippers and remove excess threads. More zippers and pockets mean more complex work.
The final quality of the luxury handbags depends on the intricacy of the stitching and details.
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Making luxury handbags surely requires utmost skill and precision - that's why they're quite expensive and may promise longevity that outlasts other bags. Luxury handbag brands also consider the environmental impact of creating these bags, as some claim to source their leather most ethically. Luxury vegan handbags that are made with organic material are also available.
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Learn More: WHY LUXURY HANDBAGS ARE EXPENSIVE