Our guide to handbags

Our guide to handbags

Published April 28 2014

The average woman buys a new handbag every three months, and in her lifetime will buy 111 handbags, spending over £4000 in the process. Whether you want to stop spending money on handbags and make your own, or your dream career is to become a handbag designer, a handbag course will teach you everything you need to know about designing and in some cases, making, your own handbags.


Developing your ideas

The first thing you will learn on a handbag course is how to develop your ideas. You will be taught how to analyse current trends and create customer profiles, this will help you to design a bag and market it to a particular type of audience. This will be done by creating customer profiles. You will analyse the different types of audiences, and profile specific customers, based around their needs. You can then design your handbag around a certain type of customer need. To start developing your ideas around an audience you will be taught how to create mood boards, to brainstorm your ideas. Finally you will be taught how to plan the designing of your handbag, this will include the use of drawings, spec sheets and material specifications, all planned out on paper to prepare you for when you start to make your very own bag.


Creating your design

Now for the exciting part; once you have come up with some initial designs for your handbag, you will learn how to create patterns that will make your handbag unique and stand out from the crowd. You will be taught how to cut patterns to add to your handbag design, this will involve learning pattern development, how different patterns work with different handbags and how to apply the pattern onto your handbag. You will also learn how to do plenty of other practical skills including; needles and threads, how to put zips onto bags, different seams, machine gussets onto bags, how to use sewing machines and how to sew.

Once you have learnt how to develop and create your own designs you will be given the opportunity to work on your own project and design your very own handbag. This is a great opportunity to apply the skills you have learnt, while at the same time gaining invaluable one on one feedback from your tutor on how you can improve.


It’s not all practical

On top of plenty of practical opportunities you will get on a handbag course, there is also a lot of theory. This is important, particularly if you want to become a handbag designer, as you’ll need to know the history of the industry in order to understand how this has can shape the trends of the future. Many of these theoretical aspects will look at how you can make handbags that are both trendy and practical in the modern era. You will research different materials and their different practicalities while analysing current trends and how your designs can fit into the marketplace. You will delve even deeper, learning how to design a price structure for your handbags, how to market your handbags to a particular audience and how to adapt your design ideas for future seasons.


Becoming a handbag designer

There are two options here; the first one is to go down the self employed route, which will mean creating your own handbags and selling them in your own shop, either local or online. The second route is to get a job with an existing designer.

Becoming self employed is certainly a huge challenge, but for most handbag designers new to the scene, this is often the preferred route. Being a self employed handbag designer gives you an easier way into handbag design, while also offering you more creative freedom. A handbag course will give you the knowhow to succeed, while an extra business administration course will teach you how to effectively run a business.

The self employed route is often picked over finding a job with a handbag manufacturer, as jobs are very rare to find. Handbag manufacturers often stick with their same designers over long periods of time which makes these jobs hard to come by. On top of this you will also need to complete an undergraduate fashion design course and have an extensive portfolio and past experience to show the employer. Becoming a self employed handbag designer first can help you to get a career at a handbag manufacturer at a later date.


Five interesting handbag facts

The ‘man bag’ may have bad connotations now, but the handbag was first and only used by men to carry around coins and valuable items.

Six is the average number of handbags women own at any one time.

In the 19th century women would spend a long time embroidering and putting new designs on their handbags to show off to potential husbands.

In the 1930’s handbags took the Art Deco style. This style celebrated the new industrial materials and plastic and zippers were first used on handbags.

75% of women have a favourite handbag that they use.