Bag Design Short Course At The London College Of Fashion

I have always wanted to take a fashion course in London. And on this blog post, I am finally checking it off my wishlist! I just completed the BAG DESIGN AND PRODUCTION Short Course at LCF. Despite only having two weeks to learn the basics, I was able to have a solid foundation of what goes into designing a bag collection; from conception to production. In this post, I will be talking about my experience and take you through the day-to-day class agenda. However, I just want to clarify that these daily class tasks are not set in stone. They might change accordingly, depending on the class pace and any other changes in the industry itself such as technological advancements, etc.

This post is also my honest review of the overall experience and will be a good read for anyone who’s thinking about taking the bag design short course. This will give a general idea of what will be the course outcome.

short course tote bag =)

Short Course: Bag Design And Production
Duration: 2 weeks
Cost: £950
Instructor: Ann Saunders

Timeline
Day 1: Trend Research, Target Market, and Moodboard
Day 2: History of Bags and Forecasting
Day 3: Materials, Leather Lecture, and Material Window Shopping
Day 4: Hardware, Range Line, and Prototyping
Day 5: More Prototyping and Spec Sheets
Day 6: Types of Construction Techniques and Bag Deconstruction Exercise
Day 7: FIELDTRIP
Day 8: Critical Path
Day 9: Global Sourcing and 3D Printing
Day 10: Final Presentations

Research Phase

What style of bags do you prefer? How many bags do you own? How much do you usually spend on a bag? Where do you usually shop(which stores)? How many bags do you carry in a day? What items do you always have in your bag?

The latter question-filled paragraph is just a list of some of the questions that we had to answer on the first day of class. It seemed like a personal type of survey to get to know what type of bag person we were individually. And on the second day, Ann – our instructor – had presented us the results of the survey for the whole class. It was interesting to see the data that a simple questionnaire could gather. We collectively saw the percentages of which bag styles worked better for the class, the average number of bags each owned, how many of us shop luxury and so on. But the most intriguing part for me was knowing what items are common in our bags.What style of bags do you prefer? How many bags do you own? How much do you usually spend on a bag? Where do you usually shop(which stores)? How many bags do you carry in a day? What items do you always have in your bag?

The bag raid was very insightful and helped us understand the importance of bag design catering to our target market’s expectations and needs. Another helpful class exercise that we did is to prepare a trend report where we go to different stores and investigate what styles are in, best selling features, compare pricing and what styles we personally gravitate towards.

After identifying our target market and doing our research. We had to start working on our moodboard.

Lectures: History, Forecasting, Materials

History of bags and trend forecasting were the topics for the second day of class. We were introduced to the resources available to LCF students such as the amazing library with lots and lots and lots (yes I repeated ‘lots’ three times) of fashion reference books. We looked at a trend predictions book for AW2020 which apparently costs more than £1,000, and other forecasting reference materials. I was in awe of how much accessible resources there were for research, not just for forecasting but also for looking up the past. Browsing through the pages of vintage Vogue Journals was an absolute delight. For anyone taking a short course at LCF, make sure to take advantage of this opportunity to check out the library. 

Can you make a bag out of any material? The answer is YES. And the explanation is, “Why not?”. The two most common materials used for bags are fabric and leather, however, they are not limiters. You can make a bag out of any material you want.

Ann – our instructor – showed us her personal collection of leather samples. We talked about the process of how leathers are made and the other more sustainable alternatives of processing. During the lecture we discussed the different types of materials that are used in bag making and also the different types of fabrics (cotton, wool, silk, velvet and more), leather (napa,suede, pu, pvc, plant leather), upcycled materials, and we also learned about some of the basic bag hardwares. 

Range Planning, Prototyping

Creating the range line and narrowing down the styles we were planning to design for our collection were the next steps. We also had to create prototypes of each design and check if the measurements work. After that, we had to fill out the spec sheets with technical drawings and the final measurements we have decided for each style. The range plan should contain all the hardwares, materials, lining, pockets and any other features of each bag.

Deconstruction and Construction

Time flew by fast and it was already our second week. We had an in-class ‘bag deconstruction’ exercise. We had to deconstruct, lay out all the pieces and recreate the patterns of the bag. It was an engaging activity and we were encouraged to walk around and see what the whole class was working on. Some bags had so many pieces, and some only had a few, nonetheless, seeing them all laid out, made it easier to understand how the pieces go together. The next part of the class was the lecture about construction techniques.

FIELD TRIP

We scheduled a whole day for the field trip. We went to one leather supplier, one hardware supplier and we visited an artisan studio specializing in leather. The leather supplier we went to has been around for around 70 years, they supply leather that are by-products from the meat industry. This means that the otherwise unused animal skin from the meat industry, is processed into leather. Some of their leather originate from the Middle-East, South America and Europe. Although not all leather suppliers have the same approach of using meat industry by-products, it was good to know that there are some that source leather on a more sustainable way. 

Our next stop was a hardware supplier with no ridiculous minimum orders required. We were able to purchase one piece of the item we needed. We were also able to check out the stock and the different styles of hardware available.

The artisan studio was just across the hardware shop. We met Anthony; he is the bridge between the person with an idea to their tangible product. He is a high-end sampler who mainly works with leather from accessories to furniture. One of his product developers, Kiki, showed us what she was working on and how she helps turn ideas into actual products that work. There are a lot of problem solving and planning involved. 

To sum it up, the field trip was eye-opening. 

More Lectures and 3D Printing

Almost done with the course, we just had to discuss about critical path (timelines and planning),  and also global sourcing. I think the latter topics needed more time, especially the global sourcing. Nonetheless, it was a brief intro to both.

We also had the chance to check out the 3D printing lab, and the guys there showed us how the system works. The possibilities are endless!

Final Presentations on Day 10.

Bag Design Class having a break during our field trip

I am very pleased with the short course outcome. It was an expensive short course, but, it was taught in a very professional and industry standard manner. I would gladly take another course at LCF next time. Ann Saunders is a wonderful instructor who is very knowledgeable and encouraging.

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