As one of the new design interns with Brynn Capella Handbags this summer, I have already learned so much about this crazy industry. Being a student in the Textile and Apparel Management program, I have read, studied, and been lectured about all the different steps that go into the process of creating a product but actually getting to see it all first hand has been so interesting.
Brynn has the ability to communicate with her contractors in person, since production is based in Chicago. This allows her to come in whenever she wants just to check up on bags that need to be fixed, to update hardware count, and to tweak sample bags before they are finalized for production. The previous design intern, Moriah, helped create two new designs Brynn has been working on and she was so excited to see the sample bags come to life. After seeing all the work that goes into just a sample bag, I found myself eager to start on the next design for Brynn’s spring/summer 2017 collection. But I’ve learned that it’s just not that simple…
At school, we never really shift our focus from clothing so I have never thought about all the elements that make up accessories. For handbags, you have to think about zippers, each color, each length, and each type. At the second contractors warehouse, we started off by counting zippers that already were in stock so we could prepare orders for the next line. We counted at least 1000+ zippers. Then, we counted the rest of the “hardware.”
Being so clueless to the accessory side of this industry, I thought we were about to start counting screws or something but I found that hardware isn’t always referring to kitchen cabinet knobs but that handbags have hardware too and that includes all the different studs, D-rings, O-rings, (basically anything metal). Once we finished this process we were ready to start ordering new hardware for our next bag in the fall collection.
Now, shifting gears from the fall collection orders, we visited a leather company and looked at hundreds of leather swatches. Looking for the perfect color isn’t so easy. It has to be in the right price point with the right finish and the right color. After about an hour of looking at the swatches, we came up with about 10 “maybes’.” Then we came back and put them next to the other 10 maybe’s we had looked at previously. And that’s just the beginning of it all.
Looking back I always pictured contracting companies to be huge super industrial places that have several workers all in matching uniforms and in assembly lines but to my surprise I found it to be quite the opposite. There are shelves of material varying by the different businesses they work with, patterns of all kinds line the walls, and there are tools and machines that look like they could cut off your finger if you touch them.. but somehow this hectic atmosphere is all apart of the organized chaos that makes up the process of bringing Brynn Capella’s designs to life and I can’t wait to see what this summer has in store!