Fashion Fades-Quality Remains

Straightforward about fashion trends and high quality good you need to appreciate

While browsing the past few days I came across some really cool bags on Pinterest so I started searching to see who makes them because they were really different from everything I have seen before.

Made of felt, leather and metallic accessories , really intriguing I might say. So finally I got the track and found the Etsy Shop that had all these cool bags for sale. Guess what I did? I asked for an interview so you could get to know this talented guy named Jack.

I really appreciated the fact that he said what he had on his mind and I think we can all learn from his words.

So here it is, right from the oven.

unique felt rope bag
felt and leather shoulder bag
1. How did you first start making handbags?

I have been making bags for nearly three years now. I started up my own company after getting stuck in a distribution job, working for a gallery in London. I had been playing around with making bags from felt since my degree in product design at DeMontfort University and it was a design path that I could follow without too much in initial start up funds. As the orders increased I slowly reduced my hours with the gallery and have been making bags full time for the last two years. My partner Lori has now quit her job in retail management and has come on board to help with the business, helpfully she studied corsetry and contour design at university, so is a bit of a dab hand on the sewing machine!
I suppose the main bug that started me off down this path was seeing a bag made out of felt at a design fair that I was exhibiting at and thinking “I could make a much more interesting version of that bag for a quarter of the price!”

2. Why did you pick felt as the main fabric?

Felt is a fantastic all natural material (well wool felt is, if you ever buy any felt products make sure you are buying wool felt and not synthetic felt, which in my opinion is a far inferior material)
It is water resistant as well as being no-woven, which means it can be left as a raw edge without having to be hemmed and will not fray like a cotton or a silk. It cuts like a knife through butter (as long as you have a very sharp knife that is…) and is a three dimensional material holding its own shape allowing me to create bags with structure using the natural qualities of the felt.
Also coming from a product design background I love the industrial feeling that it gives off. An almost concrete look with the mottled mix of wool hairs, that combined with the rivets and carabineers give the bags an almost architectural feel about them.

felt and leather laptop bag
designer felt tote
3. Your designs really stand out, they are bold but still very versatile. How would you describe your main customer?

I started making bags for men, manbag… male sheep is a ram… I make my bags from wool… Rambag! But quickly realized that it was a very bad idea automatically halving my potential customer base, well in all honesty it was probably a quarter of the market as I recon woman probably buy at least twice as many bags as men.
As I said earlier my bags have quite an industrial, yet timeless look about them. I sell a lot of bags to architects and designers but I suppose anyone who was looking for clean unfussy lines, but who also care about the materials, construction, durability and honesty of the design.

4. How long does it take for you to make a bag? (from scratch)

I do make everything in house, apart from the carabineers, it can vary between bags, but one of my handbags would take me, working by myself, about an hour and a half to two hours to fully make. That includes cutting out all the blanks from templates, hole punching all the rivet holes, cutting out all the leather blanks and backing them with felt, setting all the eyelets, sewing on the pockets and finally riveting the whole thing together. Well I say that now, but in the beginning I could only just manage two bags a day, but with all things there is a learning process and over time I have streamlined how I go about making them, as well as getting bloody quick using a knife, hole punch and sewing machine.

unique handmade felt leather bag
5. Would you consider teaming up with a famous designer in making a special collection together? Who would you pick and why?

Haha easy on… I’m still trying to find my own feet in fashion, let alone trying to walk in someone else’s shoes. To be honest I am not massively into fashion. I see myself as a product designer maker and I try to make clean designs, luckily other people seem to like them too, so I can carry on doing what I love, and still make a living at the same time.

6. How about changing/adding new textures to your designs? Or do you prefer using just felt and leather as a signature design mark?

I have toyed with the idea of moving into bags made from just leather, as the leather that I use is quite thick and behaves in a similar way to the felt. Although this isn’t something that I want to rush into as there are still plenty of designs that I want to explore using felt. Neoprene (think wet suits) is another option, although I feel it would cheapen the feel of the bags, so all in all I am happy with my mix of felt as the main material with the metal and leather accents.

felt and leather unique backpack
7. Talking about FW16-17 handbag trends, what do you like/hate about this season?

As I said earlier I do what I do, and don’t really pander to trends. Sorry I know this is for a fashion blog but I make my bags to last for many years not just a season. I do have a pet hate of over sized buckles and tassels though, but I suppose that comes from my slightly utilitarian, form follows function approach to design. In my opinion objects that are honest to their main purpose in this world are the most beautiful. Sticking a 5” gold plated buckle, which doesn’t even work as it has a magnetic snap underneath it, is not great design. Anyway the gold plate will probably tarnish and start rubbing off after a couple of months!

8. 3 Tips for picking a new handbag for autumn

Is it waterproof? That is most defiantly the question that I get asked the most by customers. YOU ARE going to get caught in the rain at some point and you are probably carrying over £500 worth of tech, as well as priceless note books full of your life in there, both of which don’t particularly like water. Along with water you also don’t want stray hands getting in there too! Think a rammed commute on the underground and how safe you would feel with your bag packed in alongside you and the other 300 sardines in your carriage.

Is it worth it? I have absolutely nothing against spending money on quality, and will happily pay well over the odds for something that I know will last me for an age. Remember if you buy a quality product that will last you years, the cost per trip to the shops/work will probably be less than buying poorly made bags every few months, which you know deep down inside, although they look pretty, will probably lose a handle or tarnish on the cheep plating on the buckles. You can usually feel quality but look at the stitching and especially the straps and think how likely are they going to pull off after lugging your life around with you.

Is it you? We are all individuals and although I have spent half this blog saying that I am not really fussed about keeping up with fashion, your bag is your outer armor, it is your outer most layer and will have to go with most of your wardrobe. Accent bags are great, but will bight pink really go with your whole wardrobe? Go for versatile bags which will go with most of what you own, if not everything then at least your main coat. We are heading into winter and those two items are going to be with you everywhere you go for the next 6 months

9. What’s the next step in your business? Going for designing shoes, accessories or clothes?

I am still a young company and am going to stay with bags at the moment, the most natural progression would be into electronics cases which I am playing around with at the moment. Although the market is already completely flooded with felt ipad sleeves, I might be able to find an interesting twist to hopefully make them stand out from the crowd… watch this space!

I  don’t know about you but I’ve really love the way Jack Dunwell thinks and says things. Very direct and he knows what he wants and works for it. How many of us can say that about themselves?

Great work Jack and I wish you all the best because you get it: it’s not about fading trends and fancy catwalks, it’s about personality and quality.
Get your cool felt-leather bag right now
Which is your favorite?

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