The creation of a new bag is a lengthy and incredibly worthwhile process! We are always looking for fresh ideas here at Kelly Moore Bag, whether that’s in materials, styles of bags or new ways to carry gear. It’s a state of always looking and never being finished because we know that innovation is always just around the corner.
We wanted to let you in a bit on our design process and give you a peek behind-the-scenes into all that goes into making and designing an exclusive accessories line.
Phase One: The Concept
Kelly & I are always collecting ideas, whether that’s on Pinterest, taking pictures of others bags that we like when we see them or even collecting vintage styles. The idea for the Luna started as one of Kelly’s first bags, because she wanted a smaller profile to carry the essentials while not being weighed down. We always include a sketch, rough dimensions and what it must do and must carry. This early in the process, we often already need to have in mind the materials we will use and the price we want to sell it at because there are a million different choices in materials and construction options.
I take all this information and create a design worksheet. We then send it to the workshop that we feel will be the best fit, either based on their sewing abilities or material availability. This part of the process can take anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks to fully flesh out all of the details.
Phase Two: Design Starts & Materials are Selected
The designers at our workshops provide us with a design proposal, which is usually a really simple sketch with call-outs and materials, as well as an inspiration.
We go back and forth exchanging ideas, and have them adjust things that we don’t like until we get it just right. This can take anywhere from one week to a year depending primarily on material availability. New materials take a very long time to vet, specifically because we’re working to find a good quality supplier with resilient, well-made material at a decent price. Once we’ve found something, we then put it through a series of 3rd party tests to make sure it will stand up to use. This could include abrasion tests (won’t peel or crack) or crocking tests (the leather color won’t rub off on clothes) to name a few. It’s a long game & it isn’t for the faint of heart, that’s for sure!
Phase Three: Patterns are Made
Once we’ve gotten the basic drawing finalized, I work together with the designer to get the patterns made. This is usually where my Type A personality shines, as there is a tech pack created and each page has to be meticulously reviewed. This gigantic document includes patterns, measurements, materials, stitching, and rivets, and is usually around 20 pages long. I then go back and forth with the designer on several versions until everything looks right. This usually takes a while—anywhere from one to three weeks depending on how many issues there are, that the material is finalized, and more.
Phase Four: The First Prototype is Made and Put to the Test
This is where the rubber really hits the road because we learn really quickly if our idea was a good one or not. As hard as we work in the design phase, it’s all (at the end of the day) a 2-D drawing, which is a different animal once it’s in front of you in 3D form! This is where Kelly & I start to use it, lend it to friends to use, and really put our concepts to the test. We are always asking these questions…
- Would our customers like this?
- What need does it meet for them?
- Is it cool or on brand?
- Does the material work for the design?
- What construction or material choices might wear out or fail over time?
- And the list goes on.
If we feel like we can answer these well and it checks all the boxes, and the price isn’t too high and we feel like we can sell it at a fair retail price, we keep moving.
Many ideas have stopped at the first prototype because the design didn’t work, but 90% of the time it’s because it costs too much and we don’t want to sell $600 bags!
In this process, I also use the spec pack to measure the prototype and see if or how patterns were off and that no mistakes are made or details forgotten. You’d be surprised how many things get missed! This process usually takes a month.
Phase Five: Prototype Comments are Sent
After our evaluation, Kelly & I have a video call and pick apart the design. We say what’s good, what’s not, and what could be better. Sometimes, we make changes also to help us keep the price down because we want to sell the product at a fair price and we only have so much wiggle room. I pull together these changes with photos, videos, as well as marking up the spec pack and we send it to the designer for review & implementation.
Phase 6: Another Prototype is Made
Then, along with the incorporation of our comments, another sample is made where we go back through the entire process again, keeping design, quality, and price always in mind. This can take awhile. In the six or so years that I’ve been here, we’ve only had one bag that didn’t take two prototypes, otherwise, we need at least two to three prototypes to get a design correct. This process usually takes anywhere from three to nine months. It often takes a long time because each time feedback is sent and implemented, a sample is made and we have to order materials. Then, it has to get into a schedule at the workshop to be made and patterns have to be adjusted, and more.
Phase Seven: Approval and Green Tagging, and the Order is Placed
After we’ve asked friends and put the design under the microscope several times, and we finally feel the design is perfect, we sign a green tag. This tag is printed and attached to the final approval sample that the workshop has a copy of to use once it’s made for our order.
Overall, this process usually takes six to eight months from initial concept to final product order, and then another three months or so to wait for the order to be made in our artisan workshops! But at the end of the day, providing you with the innovative, organizationally-detailed bags that you’ve come to expect from us here at Kelly Moore Bag is what we’re here to do. The process is more than worth it!