Tips for Fashion Designers: How to Design a Handbag
Looking to do your first handbag design? Here are a few things to consider so that you end up creating a handbag that is aesthetically pleasing, as well as functional and inexpensive.
1. Select a Style
If you already have a consistent personal style that you want to follow, since you feel good working with it, that’s great! But for those among you who are still confused about how to come up with a distinct style for your handbag and don’t know what kind of bag you are really designing, you should try asking yourself the following questions, to get you on the right track.
Who are you designing for? There are a lot of differences in taste between different groups of women. A clear decision about who you are designing for will help keep you focused through the entire designing process. For example, ask yourself whether you are creating a handbag for a young girl who usually has catch ups with friends, goes to parties and festivals, and loves trendy and playful styles, or if you are designing with a more mature woman in mind; someone who travels, cares about culture and prefers a simpler, more minimalist kind of style.
Whenever you get overwhelmed with the direction you could take the design, you should try putting yourself in your customer’s shoes. Where would they be taking their handbag? What type of clothes do they usually wear? What type of style are they into? Would they buy this handbag? How much would they be willing to pay for it?
What kind of items would they usually carry? When you know who you are designing for, it’s easier to visualize the ways your customer might be going to use your creation. Is the bag intended for keeping small items, such as money, cards, a phone and cosmetics, or does it need to have enough room for a laptop? Is the bag specifically made for to take to work, going out with friends or just for casual everyday use? When is it going to be used? Is it a night or day bag?
We recommend designing a simple handbag, which can be used on many occasions, when you start creating your first line. This will not only increase the variety of your customers, but it will also save you much time and money that would otherwise be spent on sampling, especially when you are manufacturing your designs in another country, outside of your targeted market. If possible, think of how your design can be mixed and matched with clothes and other accessories. When you have plenty of ideas to choose from, this can help you with picking the one that will be taken well. By simply answering these questions, you will be able to create your own handbag style, without having to spend long hours brainstorming and testing through sampling.
2. Exterior Design of the Handbag
After deciding on the kind of bag you would like to work with, it’s time to start choosing your bag’s basic elements, such as its general shape, its fabric and its color. Take the time to research popular trends from fashion magazines, and gather newspaper and magazine clippings, drawings or photos of your favourite bag styles, and paste them in your moodboard or sketchbook. You can also draw inspiration from other brands, or you could also try searching on Pinterest, Etsy, Instagram, etc. Take care to update them often, removing any ideas that aren’t as inspiring and adding new, inspiring designs.
Your bag’s materials, which are key to its structural integrity, are one of the first important things to consider. Look for something durable that doesn’t get dirty easily. It’s never a bad idea to have some background knowledge about the materials you are going to be using. You should at least know how many types of that material you are going to be using, its thickness, its cost and whether you’ll be able to source enough for your minimum order quantity. For example, in order to make a leather tote with a few sewing connections, or a handbag featuring a long leather strap, cowhide is a very good option, as it’s thick and wide enough to cover a fairly large surface. Meanwhile, you could try using sheepskin for clutch bags or smaller pockets, since it has a softer velvet-like inner side. If you incorporate more than one material into your design, you should take into account how the textiles will work together with the other materials.
Once you get the materials, you should be able to finalize your handbag’s size and shape. This step might be the most interesting, since you can let loose with your imagination, but do try to think how your design will look from your customer’s perspective. If you are designing for women in countries where motorcycles are the most popular type of transportation, like Vietnam, you should make sure that your bag’s size fits inside the motorbike truck, or that it has a long, steady cross-body strap which can be placed on the wearer’s shoulder. In this part of the designing process, you would also decide how many parts your handbag will have, where the strap will connect to the main body of the bag, how the handbag’s outside flap will look, etc.
Once you get your desired shape and size, it’s time for choosing colors! Start with any base color you prefer, considering black as a very safe option. It’s hardly ever out-of-fashion, it looks great when matched with any outfit’s color, and it’s easier to find matching lining fabric, zippers and buttons.
3. Interior Design of the Handbag
Next step is designing the interior of the bag. Those questions in the first step will help you finish this fairly quickly and easily. Once you are clear on which items your customers would usually carry with them, you should make enough room for all of these necessities inside the handbag. There should be zippered pockets for added security, where one would place their most important items. If your design features any card slots, keep in mind that they should not be too tight or too wide for the cards. Double-check to see whether the slots are accessible is also a good idea. You would want to include compartments for things that are often taken out and put back in the bag, such as keys, cell phone, lip gloss, etc. Try different variations of the interior and test which one is more comfortable and convenient to use.
We recommend using high-quality hardware, like thick metal hooks and YKK zippers, if you want your bags to be used for a long time. Furthermore, you should consider using water-proof or stain-resistant linings for interiors, and soft linings for pockets, for added comfort when you put your hands inside them. However, functionality doesn’t need to limit your creativity. Interiors should look beautiful, too. Reflect your own personal tastes through the fabrics used and colors. Finally, think of where you can place the origin tag that includes where your handbag is made, it’s materials, and care instructions, and where your personal logo can go on your design as a signature of all the hard work and planning you put into your bag design.
If you have specific questions about our experience designing or would like more tips, please send us a message. We’d love to chat!