With the rise of a new generation of trendy, “It” handbags, there is pressure to design handbags that stand out while still fitting in with current trends. The handbag industry is one that is unlikely to disappear anytime soon, proving to be a necessity for daily activities and fancy occasions. For those hoping to enter the industry and design timeless and stylish handbags that rival the efforts of Gucci and Prada, look no further.
Understand Handbag Style Evolutions
Luxury brands like Gucci, Prada, Armani, and Versace are known for manufacturing their lines in Italy, the fashion capital of the world. These brands display new trends every season, while staying timeless and unique to their brand. As an emerging designer, we recommend keeping up with past and present trends to find inspiration and incorporating elements that people are looking for. Just because fashion went digital this year doesn’t mean that the trends have disappeared.
Remember that trends can vary significantly by the target market you choose to focus on. Before you start designing handbags, determine your target market and research their consumer behavior, price point, and style evolution. There are numerous different handbag styles, including totes, backpacks, and messenger bags and a wealth of materials to use. Use your research to also decide which colors, fabrics, designs, and embellishments appeal to your market.
The Devil Wears Prada… From Italy
When building your brand identity, keep in mind that it’s best to start small and gradually scale up after building your engagement rates. We recommend starting off by focusing on one or two types of handbag styles and expanding your range over time. This way, you will have more time to evaluate consumer behavior and focus on making your line high-quality, high-end, and sustainable.
Over time, look to the designs of Gucci, Prada, and other luxury brands. Each of these brands has managed to create their own unique, high-end brand identities. When a customer sees one of these brands' logos on an accessory, they see a high-quality product and exemplary service. These products come from the finest raw materials handmade by skilled Italian artisans in ethical labor environments. With strong clasps, buttons, durable fabric, and strong stitches, they reflect that consumers value quality and timelessness over cheapness. Luxury handbag brands also prioritize maintaining strong relationships with their customers, something that fast fashion lines cannot afford.
Create Your Handbag Tech Pack & Designs
Once you have prototyped your handbag designs, you should create a tech pack for your manufacturer. Luxury handbag manufacturing requires the work of skilled and experienced artisans, so be sure to give your manufacturer enough time to create your bag samples and be descriptive in your tech pack.
Ask yourself about the properties of the fabrics and materials you plan to use:
Will there be clasps, zippers, buttons, or embellishments?
How heavy or light should the fabric hang? How durable should it be?
Here are some of the most common handbag fabrics and what to consider about each when deciding your materials:
Coated Canvas: Coated Canvas is the go-to fabric for many luxury brands like Gucci, Prada, Versace, and Armani. With its lightweight and durable properties that are similar to leather, this material is ideal for consumers looking for a weather-resistant and long-lasting handbag with a high-end touch.
Cotton Canvas: Cotton Canvas is simply Coated Canvas, except without the Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) finish. This material is ideal if you are looking for an affordable and lightweight fabric that is most commonly seen in backpacks, shoulder bags, and duffel bags.
Leather: If you’re looking for a traditional look and feel for your handbag, look no further. Leather is the oldest and one of the most popular choices for handbags due to its durability and timeless look. For those looking for a more humane alternative, vegan leather made from Polyurethane (PU) synthetics is a popular choice, as it offers the same characteristics as normal leather. These materials are most commonly seen in wallets, backpacks, handbags, and shoulder bags.
Nylon: With a smooth, shiny, and slick feel, Nylon is a popular choice for brands like Prada for their backpacks. Nylon is weather-resistant, tear-resistant, and very durable, making it ideal for daily wear bags. This material is usually seen in backpacks and shoulder bags.
Cordura: One of the most durable bag fabrics, this material is ideal for those looking for a material that withstands the harshest weather conditions. Cordura is an air-treated, rough Nylon fabric that offers high durability and is most commonly used in backpacks, duffel bags, belt bags, and shoulder bags.
Denim: Denim, while classically seen in jeans, is a popular material for accessories like handbags. In a traditional washed effect, it offers lightweight durability. This material is most commonly seen in shoulder bags and backpacks.
Straw: One of the oldest materials for bag making, straw offers easy care and durability. While not made for daily use, straw offers a timeless feel and is often used in shoulder and crossbody bags.
Market Your High-End Purse Line
Launching a purse or bag line won’t guarantee that it will succeed. Once you have built your line, you need to establish its presence to your market. Based on your research of your target market, figure out what platforms to market your line through – social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, trade shows, word-of-mouth, magazines, or other forms of marketing. We recommend focusing on one or two marketing platforms initially, then building up as you become more established and develop a manageable workflow.
For handbags, one of the best ways to market your line is through visual marketing. Before launching your line, set up a photoshoot for your handbags – both being worn by models and set up in aesthetic locations. If you decide to participate in a trade show, develop a digital presence, or send your pictures to magazines or wholesale retailers, you will already be prepared with quality pictures that portray your handbag designs in the best light.
Amulya Agrawal is a student from Missouri who is passionate about writing and creating creative content. She is currently a Content Marketing Intern for MakersValley and hopes to inspire designers with her content. In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling, and advocating in her community.