The Evolution of a Handbag Design (And Its Death)

Please note that the following handbags represent first prototypes and serious blunders. This blog documents our trials and errors and tracks our progress from inexperienced start-up to launching the Taryn Zhang brand. Please bear that in mind as you look through these photos and illustrations.

Okay, so the above design is totally not happening. (If you follow my blog and that picture looks familiar, it’s because I inserted it into the previous post.)

I can’t seem to get it right. All its past prototypes are tucked away in boxes in my back closet and the latest version, what you see above, is currently in use by me just so I can get some mileage out of it just so I can assure myself it wasn’t a complete and total waste of everything.

I’m giving up on the design idea for now. It falls outside the scope of TZ’s brand point of view. And let’s not overlook the finer point here: it’s not cute. But I didn’t always think nor did I foresee it would be not cute.

Let’s track the evolution of this handbag design, shall we?

Whoa, this design predates the existence of this blog, if my memory is right. It made sense in my head, in 2-D, as you see above. Btw, the above sketches depict two different versions, not the same.

That was the first factory’s interpretation of my sketch. Not what I had in mind. Let’s move on.

I then switched to a second factory in a different part of Asia and made a few changes to the design. Braided handles, for example. No more purse frame. This makes for kind of an interesting bowler bag, no?

Uh… no. (Note that there’s still shipping plastic wrapped around the handles in the above pic. Stating the obvious here just in case.)

So then I gave up on this design. I tucked away both prototyes and moved on. In that time, we turned out a lot of the cool styles that are now part of the debut TZ collection.

More bumps and detours along the ride and now I’m with another new factory. (Let’s not count how many I’ve gone through by this point.) Right before submitting all the design briefs, I slipped in an additional one, a revision of that old design I had given up on a year ago.

Changed the silhouette entirely. It’s no longer a bowler bag. Now it’s sort of this mutt mix between a tote, a satchel, the bowler, and a cross-body. And as a measure of insurance, I incorporated design elements from the Ambitionist briefcase that I love so much. Can’t go wrong if I incorporate design elements from the Ambitionist. Right? Right?

No. Not right. That was the result. Guess there’s really no such thing as design insurance.

Actually, the factory did a fine job given the design. Craftsmanship here and detailing were stellar. The problem isn’t the factory; it’s me. My design is hideous. In execution, it came out awful. Quite disappointing.

And yet I’m still using the bag. Somebody’s got to. It’s great for casual days, as it turns out. I’m a packrat. I need to bring a Kindle and books, sketchpads, all sorts of crap everywhere I go. This bag fits it all. I love the tinier handle and I love the shoulder strap.

To me, it’s just got a hippie vibe, which I love, but it’s not Taryn Zhang. And so it doesn’t make it into the collection. It’s going to be this one lone oddball bag that happens to have the TZ logo on it that will rest in the back of my personal closet. Sigh. Ah well.

Wanted to share with y’all a less glamorous facet of this venture: the boo-boos. =)

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