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How Much Does It Cost to Make a Handbag in Asia?

It depends on the bag and the quantity. You also need to take into consideration how labor intensive is the bag? A sports bag is not as complex to make as a box bag. The Chinese don’t consider 1000-5000 bags a big quantity.

I developed a sports bag that I wanted to market. This was a sling bag prototype, that I was able to get a patent on. I could only afford small quantities.

To get 1000 bags made was going to cost me $10.72 per bag. If I could have afforded to purchase 100,000 bags my price would have been 5.16 per bag. Because I couldn’t get the price down to $4 a bag, I couldn’t compete with the other backpack and sling bag makers. Stores needed to be able to offer the bag at no more then $29.95.

There only one way to find out! Contact a US based manufacturer. Send your sample or your pattern to them. You can send the pattern via a PDF file. Ask for a quote! In most cases you’ll get and answer in 48 hours. If you feel nervous about sending out your designs. It’s part of the game call trust.There not interested in your design, they don’t have orders for it!  Second point is this, most US manufactures have a base in China!  So they can give the overseas price.

You also need to take into account which Asian country are you talking about. You can get stuff done in Vietnam cheaper then mainland China. The difference maybe quality. The world is in search of the cheapest labor force, even the Chinese. As there labor force grows and expects more, the Chinese invest in cheap labor in Africa.

Video Tutorial Update!

Okay I’m Back! Been working on a few video tutorials. This series of tutorials are basic pattern making techniques.They should provide you with a basic understanding of pattern making. This set of tutorials will guide you through the steps needed to make and design a high quality handbag.

I’ve been thinking about this project for a long time. It feels great to finally get it off the ground. My wife Linda did a great job on many of the tutorials. This is our first attempt at doing tutorials, so if you have any comments , kickum this way! We look forward to bringing some more complex bags and patterns your way.

We posted the video’s on YouTube.  UPDATED: We now have them at http://www.howtomakeadesignerhandbag.com.

This site is still under construction, so bear with me.

Video #1 Front / Back Pattern

Video #2 The Gusset

Video #3 The Flap

Video #3 The Flap/Part 2

Video #3 The Flap Lining/Part 3

Video #4 The Strap/Handle

Video #5 The Outside/Cutting Pattern

Video #6 The Lining Pattern

Check out the video’s and let us know what you think.

Part 2: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Overseas Production

As you can see I can be long winded,so let’s try to get back to the subject which is overseas production vs US  production. As already stated I’m a strong supporter for the latter. I’m only speaking of this in terms of accessory designers starting out with nothing but a dream. I’m only speak about what I know.

My main reasoning, control, quality, better turn around time, and a reasonable amount of flexible. For those reason I’m an avid support of US manufactured products. I also think there’s a great market for  small US manufactures to exploit. They have the capability and capacity to compete on so many different levels.

It will be hard to compete  with labor cost, but we can compete with the other factors that are important to getting your products to market.

If we highlighted these advantages, we may not be able to get all of the manufacturing back. However we could regain some manufacturing and stem the tide of others who succumb everyday to overseas pressure.

  • Shorter turn around time. Orders can be place 30 – 60 days, sometimes in as little as 2 weeks.. Instead of 60 days to  6 months depending on the size of the order overseas.
  • It allows stores to purchase less and yet maintain inventories. Reducing initial capital expenditure  and keep more cash on hand. Resulting in lower inventories. Lower inventories could mean higher profits. No need for constantly reducing the price of your products. I’m going to give you the perfect example below.
  • It allows for greater flexibility in adapting to changing trends in consumer taste. Most orders are 6 months to a year in the pipeline. If something gets hot the stores aren’t stuck with what’s not!

These are just a few advantages that I can think of for designers to pitch when taking with buyers about the higher price points.

If you go with a contractor, you have a vast wealth of knowledge that they bring to the table. They can help perfect your designs, help with resourcing and you can go visit the factory, in most cases for a airline ticket for less then $350.00 . You have control of your product and you have legal recourse.

**The perfect example:

Years ago a product called Danskin Dancewear came on the market. The product was in such demand that the manufacture would only supply vendors who paid up front or on short net terms. They( at the time) kept inventories low and they got paid. Scarcity translates into lower volume and higher prices that can be sustained over a longer period of time.

Setting up your own shop ahhhhhh.

It deserves a post all it’s own! I’m going to tell you the basic setup need to start your own handbag factory. For less then $15,000!  Equipment needed…… everything!

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Overseas Production

I’m only giving you the point of view of a small business owner. Who learned many of my lesson the hard way. Now common sense prevails!

I remember my FIT professor Michele Lelonde telling me” don’t grow too fast…slow down”. I didn’t heed her warnings. The trapping of possible success turned my head. By not heeding her warnings, I lost my business. I didn’t take the time to allow my knowledge to caught up with where I was in business. In other words … I didn’t know what I was doing! Sometimes in life the best teacher, is other peoples mistakes.

When starting out, get your first few orders, then start putting your house in order. Have a plan! Don’t be swept up in the moment.Figure out what you need and then multiply by 100 times.

Whatever you think you need…you need more! That’s no lie.

Decide where you want to go with manufacturing .

Do you want to setup your own shop ?

Do you want to contract the work to a state side manufacturer or do you want to ship the work overseas?

Manufacturing is like your shopping cart on a website. Everything revolves around it.

I’m a big advocate for the reemergence of manufacturing in the USA. I think our quality is better and I think, you save money in the long run. I believe, that the people that buy your products should also be able to afford it. If I’m selling it here,  it should be made here.

There are many advantages to overseas manufacturing the biggest being a cheaper price. To be truthful that’s the only advantage. In most cases you have to order in fairly large quantities, so you need  fairly large orders. You will need letters of credit verifying payment. Which will be held in escrow until the orders are satisfied.  There can be many uncertainties , manufacturing delays,shipping delays, quality, can all become an issue.

The quality of the material while they look good may not hold up under continues use. I remember a friend of mine had just brought a new designer handbag. It looked great! She paid over $300.00 for the tote. Six months later it was falling apart-fraying around the edges. You really have to stay on top of your quality when working with overseas manufacturing. be especially concerned with the thread used. If the thread is weak, the bag will fall apart.

As I said earlier, in most cases you have to put the money in an account that will guarantee the manufactures payment. Since the chances are that if your going overseas you got a big order!  You will also have to carry that paper up to 120 day net, for the stores that placed the order. The bigger the order the more debt you will need to carry. It will also be about 4-6 months before the manufacture will ship your product. So it could easily be 8-10 months before you see a ROI. Be prepared!

There are many small manufacturers across the United States, they are expense. Many have sub-contractors in Asia, ready and willing to take your order. This could be an advantage for the upstart designer. This allows you to develop a trust  and establish a standard of quality for your products. This could also give you time to develop at your own pace,  allowing your business savvy to grow,  into handling the day to day chores of a business.

Okay that’s all for today c-ya! I’ll finish this tomorrow……