I love to give you the backstory of how each of our bags are designed and created, from idea to final sample. From fabric selection to my never-ending struggles to get the structure *just* right, here is a play-by-play of how we approached our most complicated bag design yet.
I start posting pictures of the Linnea tote on instagram. Some of you ask if your 15" laptop would fit, and a couple of you say the only thing missing is a zipper. The wheels start turning, and I break out the sketch book again. We haven't even started manufacturing our Linnea tote, but that's how the design timeline works - oftentimes you start planning a full year ahead of launch!
I draft some sketches of what would become the Paloma tote. I wish I had a good story of how the name was born, but much like our Linnea tote, I honestly just liked the way it sounded. Elegant and unique, like the bag I wanted to create.
I do some research and send my first draft sketches to my factory.
Some decisions I made right off the bag:
I didn't want to make just a *bigger version* of the Linnea. I wanted to create something brand new.
It needs to fit a 15" laptop.
We needed to find a new lining. The merlot ultrafiber we use in the Linnea is beautiful, but would be too heavy if used in a larger bag. I always try to make each bag as lightweight as possible while still feeling substantial. I want to try cotton twill and fabric linings for this bag, and start hunting for some options. Fabric linings are a lot easier to work with since they don't need to be bonded to the ultrafiber material, but oftentimes don't look and feel as high end.
The pockets. An important part of any work bag, and I wanted to integrate them throughout the bag - not just on the two sides like the Linnea. It would help balance the bag and make it easier to use.
I wanted it to be structured. In my mind when I think "work bag" I think structure. Polish. There's a time and place for nice slouchy bags (my personal favorite type of bag), but not here.
A modern, unique design. A super functional work bag that didn't look like a work bag. There were lots of little details I wanted to incorporate, like panel detailing, leather zipper pulls, and an extended zipper track to make retrieving things easy.
So the goal: a larger tote with multiple compartments that could fit a 15" laptop while being lightweight and structured, but still soft and not bulky. With lots of pockets and a zipped top. With my newly acquired experience and pattern drawing skills, how hard could it be? (Very).
The very first sample. Ahh, this brings me back to the first Linnea sample. Sometimes drawings and ideas don’t fully translate to actual design, and this is one of those times. I’m still confused at what I was trying to do with the too-short-to-be-a-shoulder-strap, too-long-to-be-a-top-handle situation. And the new handle attachment shape looks a little strange. The black fabric looked and felt nice in person when I tested it, but looked and felt a little cheap as a lining. But this is why we test everything!
The second sample. Shape wise, this is a lot better! We made the base wider, handles longer, and the zipper track doesn't peek out over the bag. Structurally, it's still a mess. The shoulder straps and zipper track are stiff and uncomfortable, and this is due to the herringbone cotton twill lining I picked for this sample. I fell in love with the fabric, but unfortunately it’s not going to work for this tote. After a few weeks of wear testing I also decide against the pen loops. I don't like to make pockets too specific, I think that's a personal decision best left up to you!
The third sample. This was a complete redesign - we changed the structure of the bag and made it three separate compartments, which helped immensely with the structure. I’m really happy with this pocket arrangement too. We tried using the lining that’s in the Linnea tote for this sample, and while it looks nice, it’s way too heavy (as predicted) and has a tendency to wrinkle (see the bottom of that middle compartment?). I keep going back and forth with the strap attachment too...I decide to go for our tried and true Linnea attachment for the next handle. Over the next month, I'm on a mission to find the perfect lining. We test four different microsuede materials of varying thickness and pliability over the next month.
I present to you...the Paloma tote. The fourth and final sample. Perfectly structured. I gasped when I received the sample. The lining I was so stressed about is spot on - it’s a brushed microsuede that’s super soft, ultra lightweight, and wrinkle resistant. At the end of the day, a fully (vegan) leather lined bag is what makes my heart the happiest. I also went with the original Linnea strap attachment for this one…it makes the two bags feel like a true collection.
There is just one minor adjustment we are making before placing our production order, and that is making the base wider by 0.5 inches. I based the bag's measurements off a couple 15" laptops that I borrowed from friends, but I know that all 15" laptops aren't exactly the same size and wanted a little wiggle room built in.
She is beauty and grace, but she (definitely) wasn’t always. Some bags I get right on the second sample, and some bags (like this one) take almost a year to develop. But seeing how far this bag has come makes it feel extra special :)