This is a life-long dream for me – to design and produce my own range of bags. The process has been challenging and continues to be hard work, but I wouldn’t change it. Making quality items with love and care while honouring a true craft (hand looming), has always been my aim. My grandfather, Adjustus, was a true craftsman, and it was him that inspired me to do this.
For me, producing bags is about creating timeless, classic accessories that will stand the test of time, not fading with each fashion trend. But where to start?
Who will use my bags and what will they use them for?
For me, you have to start by asking the question: who will use my bags and what will they use them for?
I have said it before, I wholeheartedly design with the end consumer in mind. I am not a slave to fashion, I prefer to design products that are inspired by fashion but that won’t date. I always think about who might buy my bags and design with a purpose in mind. Style meets practicality!
I think about the girls on weekends away, who want a bag to take them from day to evening, the people who want a stylish weekend bag, the mother who wants a chic backpack/shoulder bag giving her the option to be hands-free.
So, whether you want something simple and straightforward, something to fit everything in or something super versatile, I hope I’ve got it covered in the range I’ve designed.The other thing I should probably tell you is the fabric is amazingly durable. I chose to work with fabric made by handlooming as I wanted to honour a traditional craft, but also, it creates a really strong fabric – ideal for bags which will be used every day.
What colours would people like?
I see bags as investment pieces, therefore my philosophy is to create items that will stand the test of time: as I mentioned, being strong and durable as well as being stylish and practical. To that end, the colours I’ve chosen for the range are classic and timeless, colours that will compliment a smart or casual outfit, across a broad demographic.
Fashion is wonderful and beautiful and useful for overall guidance, but I wanted a range of bags that wouldn’t look out of place regardless of ‘trends’. What’s more, our method of production – handlooming – takes a huge amount of skill and time, therefore it would go against my principles to choose a colour fabric just for one season. I would say that wonderfully bold, earthy tones make up the majority of the Adjustus V palette.
What practical elements will people want?
Here’s where my obsession with the practical side of things comes in. I get frustrated using bags that make me feel disorganised – a bottomless pit of things I need and some I’ve forgotten are even there! So, inside pockets, outside pockets, zip fastenings, popper fastenings – they each have their purpose to keep items safe and secure, but also easy access for when you are commuting etc. I have also added shoulder straps with some of our handbags and detachable straps on our backpack, turning it into a chic shoulder bag. I love versatility.
Making it happen
The process of designing the bags is quite fluid. Sometimes I’ve made a toile design, which is a mock up of the bag using a cheaper fabric, and sometimes I’ve produced sketches and cut-out paper patterns and sometimes both. It often depends on the complexity of the design.
The pattern will then be delivered to the factory, where I will work with them to decide on the fabric for each bag. It is important to ensure the weight of the fabric is suitable for the type of bag you are designing.
With the prototypes made, you are able to get a much clearer picture of how the finished article will look. At this stage, inevitably, there will be a few tweaks: some extra stitching, adjusting the position of the handles, the straps and the placement of zips etc. Sometimes the changes are more drastic!
The art of handlooming
None of this would be possible without the supremely talented team in Kerala, southern India, who bring my designs to life. They hand-dye the cotton, hang it up to dry in the sun and then load it onto the hand loom. It can take up to one month to make just one roll of fabric! A labour of love and a truly unique product.
I’m really proud of the quality of the finished, handmade products. If you are thinking about taking a leap of faith to create your own range of products, I would say “go for it!” You only live once!