How a handbag is produced: Picard
Some of you have followed my Instagram Stories a couple of weeks ago. I was showing everything about my visit to the head quarters of Picard close to Frankfurt in Germany. It was an incredible experience to see every step of the production process with my own eyes. To be part of the team, also if only for four hours – this is how long a simple bag needs to be produced – and learn about the processes, the material and all the production facilities.
From Frankfurt the production facilities of Picard distant only a 15 minutes drive with the underground. On my way there I am starting to get exited. Fashion, design and everything around it has always been my passion. As a child I always wanted to study Fashion Design and create my own line. I loved everything that had anything to do with fabric, creativity and style. To be honest this is one of the most exiting cooperations I have been doing with Be-Sparkling so far and I am extremely happy that Janett from Picard was open for such a unique possibility.
Arriving at the facilities, it is getting clearer: “Today I am going to see how a handbag is produced” and even better, “I will create my own bag!” I’ve usually purchased handbags from reputable online stores (like Gorjus London, for instance) or shopped at local exhibitions. However, this was a thrilling new experience for me and I was really enthralled in the whole process of making a handbag from the scratch.
Janett welcomes me in the reception of the building and invites me to the Picard showroom. The collection being shown is a combination of the Spring and Summer collection. Picard is not designing two but four collections a year. The place is filled with light and all the pretty designs amaze me. From the standard bags as everyone had them in the 50ies (Janett explains me that this model is one of the most requested one, who would have guessed!) until the more fashionable ones as we are used to wear them today, or how we will wear them next year.
I am looking around and decide quickly that the bag I chose to create today is definitely one of the designs that I like the most. After a quick coffee and some explanations about the brand Picard we are going two levels down, where the hearth of the production is.
The pattern cutting
Our first step goes through the fabric storage and I am amazed about how many different types of leather exist, what type of structures can be created in leather and how many colours are available. The storage area is large and every piece of leather entering the production area is controlled manually.
Janett explains me that Picard is still very much focused on doing every production step manually by the hands of a person. All bags are hand-made and controlled with every person taking on the next step. I am asked to choose my favourite colour among four: a dark blue, a strong grey, a deep red or a classic black. Usually I would have gone with either red or black, but as this bag should be something different and unique in my bag collection I decided to go with the grey. It is a darker and extremely elegant grey so also after some weeks with the bag I am still very happy about my choice.
After choosing the leather to work with we are going to the cutting machine.
The pieces for my bag are already cut out as it would take way too much time to cut them out singularly. But I am still being mistreated how the machine works.
One person can control this large machine alone.
The fabric is being laid down on a sort of very short assembly line. In the first moment, the parts are being projected on the leather. The controller is adding more and more pieces manually on a computer in order to use every inch of the fabric. Once the best possible way is defined a laser is cutting out the parts one by one. It goes fast, but still takes more time than an actual assembly line would take for production purposes. For those who want to do their own creative take on items such as this, they too can look at a fabric die cutting machine that they can practice with and make their own creations.
The Production of the handbag
The single parts of the bag are clued together and in a second step sewed together. In this way, there is no possibility for the bag to open up and will be stable for a long time. This is the step where I was able to do a big part of the work. The clue is added to every side of the bag and then there is a moment to wait before putting the two parts together. Then the two parts are pressed together strongly. If you do this too early the clue is not ready and the bag will not stay together, if you do it too late the clue is too try and the same story happens. Once the first part is clued together and no remaining clue is visible the bag goes to the sewing machine.
The production processes of a Picard handbag call for different sewing machines depending on the part the sewing needs to be done. They make sure to use the best heavy duty sewing machines so they aren’t always having to repair or replace them because there are a lot of bags being made here! I am quite familiar with sewing machines but I have seen models here I never even thought exist.
The sewer is going right over the previously added clue. Then the process starts again. This is a step-by-step procedure that takes at least 4 rounds – depending on the type of bag – by adding a part of clue and then sewing over it.
If you are doing only one of the steps badly, the bag looses its quality and will not have the same life expectancy than it should have. Every person that gets the bag in hand is controlling the step happened before in order to exclude the possibility of any loss in quality. All ends of the leather are being painted twice in order not to reveal any possibility for damages.
Once the bag has come to its structure the details need to be put on. Super tiny bolts are used to apply the pendant. Bolts of this size and shape many not always be readily available, and may therefore need special machines to custom produce them. There are different machines by Hermle and similar manufacturers that ensure tiny parts like these can be produced with micron level consistency for both shape and contour — a true sign of quality. Before closing the bolts, a special glue is being applied. This glue is one of the most expensive resources being used and makes, that the bolts can not open up again. Another sign of quality.
Before adding the pendant finally to the Picard bag my Be-Sparkling logo is going to be embossed. I am sitting in front of a large machine. I can’t believe that this machine is needed for such a small piece of embossing. Slowly I am adding the pendant under the machine. Someone already put the form in place and I just have to push a pedal with my feet. I am trying slowly. The machine is not moving. I trying slightly harder. It is surprising how much weight I have to give in, in order to move the machine. The third time I am pushing strongly the form onto the leather, leaving the embossed Be-Sparkling Logo. I smile. This is my co-branded Picard pendant. Now I just need to add it to the final bag.
The Last Step and Customer Service
Once the bag is ready it goes to the last step. A woman is taking the bag and is using something that looks a-like as a kitchen torch. Just bigger.
“The remaining parts of the clue can be eliminated with the heat and the leather is shining stronger and cleaner!” she is explaining me. Janett shows me in the mean time the remaining parts of the facilities. There are large storage rooms just for small pieces such as elegant locks, closures and other accessories. She explains me, that Picard is keeping every piece ever produced, so that if someone needs a replacement even for a super old bag the parts are still available in most of the cases. The oldest parts, that are kept here are older than I am and still look like they have been produced yesterday! The bags usually have a guaranty of 2 years, 5 years for the “Made in Germany” Line. However if clients bring their bag with small parts to be repaired they often do it on-the-house even after the 5 years are over, Janett explains me.
The Give-Away: The same Picard bag I created for myself (Value 399 €)
The highlight of my christmas give-aways is today: a real Picard leather bag. I am sure you can feel my excitement of this collaboration in the text above. I am more than happy to share this with you today on christmas. This special gift can only belong to one person and the double branded bag is available only two times. One I have myself and one is a give-away for one of you!
How to be the lucky winner??*
- Add a comment below where you’d like to wear this bag before 6th of January 2018 6:00 PM (Berlin time)
- Subscribe to the blog here
- You must be older than 18 years
- You must live in Europe or have an address that I can send the bag to, that is in Europe
- For more than one participation check out my Instagram and Facebook.
*The decision is final and is exempt from legal procedures.