So I found this unicorn of a factory liaison who ONLY required minimum purchases of 50 bags, prompting me to think “Where’s the hidden camera? This can’t be for real” and then sending me back to the drawing board.
Of course there were ways the bag could be tweaked and improved in small ways. As my new design technician advised me, “Anything can be done, it just takes time and money.”
As in life.
We made adjustments to pockets, added a strap to hold keys, some detailing on the side bottle pocket and some more leather detailing here and there. (And they were certainly kid-friendly and would put my two littles to work as we debated cut and form and function.)
I asked a dozen times what the pricing would be. They were a *little* evasive about pricing and explained they basically took a management fee. Fair enough. It was still a fraction of the pricing require at the Brooklyn Navy Yard when I was working with the Justin Paul Bags.
Overseas manufacturing causes such a dilemma for American society. We’ve gotten accustomed to inexpensively-produced items. We all know this, right? Everything’s cheaper for us because it’s produced in factories overseas where the wages are microscopic and exploitative and consequently we get more stuff for lower prices.
It’s a vicious cycle of exploitation and waste. I hate to play a role in said cycle and I look forward to earning a place in the fashion industry in which I have the economies of scale to produce domestically, charge a little more and still have the reputation to maintain a higher level of production costs. In that way, I’m paying Americans to do quality work.
Further, the ECKnox brand will never be about disposability. The bags last for years because they’re constructed well and meant to last long beyond the diapering days. I’ve carried the same original version of the Windsor bag for 4 years, now. It’s held up fantastically.
The idea that parents should only expect to carry a $45 diaper bag for less than a year, trash it and buy another is tremendously wasteful on all levels.
ECKnox will never be about waste.
But I digress.
Once we took weeks to tweak our design, we had to ship my current prototype to the Deux Lux cutting room in China. There, factory workers would examine and dissect the diaper bag. They’d photograph it a million times, pull it apart, re-measure it (though I’d already sent my precious patterns to the factory.)
On that note, the patterns are literal cardboard cut outs for pattern-making. They’re labeled, well…exactly as you’d imagine they’d be labeled so that a “cutter” can efficiently cut the pieces out and then they’re marked with instructions for fastening and sewing.
So that took another few weeks.
They factory then put together their own prototype of my prototype, thereby proving that they could make the same bag. And frankly, they improved upon my original Brooklyn version…hiding some of the seams more elegantly and streamlining just a big to improve.
But still I had some minor tweaks I wanted to make. “Oh…could we make the racing stripes on the side a big bigger? And change the buckle to black plastic? And move this seam from here to over here?”
Of course we can. But it takes time and money.
But harkening back to my first unicorn mentor, Rada…”you only have one chance to do this right. Don’t fuck it up.”
So that brought about some more back and forth with China – pictures labeled explicitly with arrows explaining the in the simplest and clearest of terms.
They made another sample (ka-ching, ka-ching) and sent it to me.
And we were a go.
Time to call Barneys, again…back to the drawing board…in a sense…