The Spirit of True Craftsmanship: How Bags are Made

Bags are a staple item for everyone and we all have had or used a bag at some point. The history of bags and all the different kinds is a tale of True Craftsmanship. Humans have always needed something to put their belongings in. As we evolved so have our design for bags evolved. Now in the 21st century, there are so many types of bags for different needs. Suitcases, plastic bag, backpack, beach bags, etc. There are also so many qualities of bags now, you have plastic bags that cost 1 to 5 cents to designer Louis Vuitton or Hermes bags that cost more than a car. No matter the type of bag or the quality, they are all made through a process. Below we discuss how different types of bags are made.

Leather Handbag

A leather handbag is a solid bag that’s made by most designers. They come in different shapes and sizes and styles. For example, the Louis Vuitton Speedy bag is a bag that has been around for a long time. It is one of the top quality leather bags out there that’s made using true craftsmanship. It is made using 12 pieces of python leather and lambskin lining for the interior. There are 9 pieces of hardware used, for the handles, zippers, and straps. Approximately 8 meters in length of Python skin is used for the bag. It’s said that it takes over 400 maneuvers to completely manufacture Speedy bag, which consists of 21 pieces. The Python skin used to make it is not very wide and so multiple skins need to be matched to create symmetry and make sure there is a similarity in color and texture.

Plastic Bags

Plastic bags are found everywhere and are used for so many things. From using it to store food products to packing a sandwich, transporting groceries, storing garbage, and on and on. The process of manufacturing plastic bags is quite standard and is similar across different manufacturers. There are two main steps involved in making a plastic bag:

  • During this process, an equipment called an Extruder is used. An extruder heats polyethylene plastic resin pellets to around 500 degrees Fahrenheit, enough to melt the pellets. A screw inside the extruder forces the molten plastic through the machine and pushes the material through a die that controls the thickness of the product. Air forces the emerging plastic film into a bubble that travels upward about three stories in a cooling process. After pinching out the air and flattening the bubble, the film is cut to size and wrapped on a spindle.
  • Converting Film to Bags: A conversion department unwraps the roll of film and slices it with a heated knife that both seals the sides of the bag and cuts it to size. The conversion department also adds any special characteristics needed for a completed bag. Dies cut out handles, wheels produce gussets, and zippered seals get attached with heat or by ultrasonic means. Any printing may be done after the bags have been converted, or in a separate department between extrusion and conversion.

Suitcases

Suitcases are also another major type of bag. If you’ve ever traveled then chances are you’ve used a suitcase at one point. Suitcases have been made out of several materials in years past. Originally, they were made out of wool or line  and then they were made out of leather and wood. In actuality, the materials used to make suitcases over time reflect the products that were available for use or more popular in that time. Wool, wood, leather, metal, plastic, fiber composite – even recycled materials are all common suitcase materials. During the times when covered wagons were used trunks were used to transport goods and the luggage had to be strong because of rough rides. As transportation became less cumbersome and not as rough, lighter and lighter materials were used to make suitcases.

Around the 20th century, transportation became more advanced and so suitcase with softer exteriors started to enter the market. These suitcases were usually manufactured from polyester. In 1938 The original ‘Halliburton’ aluminum travel cases were handmade for Erle P. Halliburton’s personal use. In 1950 Rimowa introduced the mass market aluminum suitcase based on the Junkers Ju 52 airplane shortly followed by Zero Halliburton. Nylon suitcases prevailed afterwards. Bernard Sadow, first patented wheeled luggage in 1974.

At the very start of the 21st century, the first suitcases made of polycarbonate were made in 2000 by the German luggage maker Rimowa. Since then, most luggage manufacturers have made some suitcases from the material.

Leather Suitcases

The leather industry didn’t jump into the suitcase business for quite some time but after they did it became one of the most sort after types of suitcases. For example in 1897 wholesale price list included the words “suit case” only twice in a 20-page list of luggage types. In a 1907 T. Eaton & Co. catalog, trunks took up a full page while suitcases share a page with club bags and valises. In a 1911 United Company catalog, however, around 40 percent of the advertisements were for suitcases.

Many attribute this rise in popularity of suitcases to the rise in migration from Europe to North America. At this time also, trunks started to go out of style, as trunks went out of style, suitcases took on not just practical but also cultural significance. By the 1920s, suitcases featured in books such as The Hardy Boys and such films as The Woman in the Suitcase, as a literary symbol for both mobility and mystery—perhaps filled with gold, photographs, or simply a stranger’s possessions. During the Great Depression, farmers who worked fields away from home were called “suitcase farmers.”

Now, suitcase come in different sizes, types, colors, and prints. The 21st century has made several attempts to make new types of suitcases like tech-enabled suitcases (no surprise since we are in the age of technology) and suitcases that are modern, slick, and very fashionable.