British handbag designer job

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Sophie Scott is based in London and works as a handbag designer. Part of her role is researching and developing new ideas, which involves overseas travel.

What does your handbag designer job involve?

At the start of a new season, I travel to New York, Paris, Milan and Hong Kong to look at fashion trends in the designer shops and department stores, as well as attending trade fairs and visiting London shops. I also work closely with a company who updates me on the latest styles and colours. Regular meetings are held with the design team, chairman and sales director, where we discuss ideas and develop the range.

Are there any other aspects to your handbag designer job?

I travel overseas regularly, attending trade fairs and markets to source materials for the handbags, including leather, nylon, fabric and polyurethane. I also work closely with our Hong Kong office.

How do you actually design a handbag?

Once the research phase is underway, I sketch ideas and then use a computer drawing program to produce a detailed technical drawing. I need to consider size, shape and colour, and also the fabric, linings, stitch colour, trims and zips. This detailed drawing is then sent to a pattern cutter, who will make a sample of the handbag.

What hours do you work?

I work from 8.30am to 5.30pm each day, with occasional extra hours if needed. What is the working environment like? Jane Shilton is a family business and the working environment is very friendly. The design room is spacious and light.

Who do you work with?

There are three designers in our team. I also work closely with our chairman, sales director and overseas contacts.

What personal qualities and skills do you need to become a British handbag designer?

You have to be very artistic and creative, with an eye for current trends. The ability to sketch ideas is also important. Excellent communication skills are needed to ensure our ideas are interpreted correctly, both within the design team and with our overseas suppliers.

Why did you choose this career as a handbag designer?

I have always loved art and design. Although I studied jewellery design, I had the chance to design handbags in my final year, using my own gold and silver fastenings. A tannery sponsored me to make my own range of handbags. After graduating, I sold my range of leather bags at craft fairs and undertook private commissions.

What about the training?

Before joining the company, I completed an intensive course in handbag design and construction. Since then, all my training has been on the job, working alongside experienced designers.

Do you use any special equipment?

Special design packages on the computer help me with my work.

What do you enjoy about your handbag designer job?

I love the travel.The job is constantly changing and is always exciting. It's so satisfying to see someone wearing a handbag that I have designed!

Sophie's route to becoming a British handbag designer

  • Foundation course in Art and Design.
  • Degree in Jewellery and Silversmithing.
  • Short course – Design for Handbags.
  • Self-employed, selling own range of handbags.
  • Handbag designer.

Sophie's handbag designer tips

  • Experience gained using IT design packages is invaluable.
  • Gain knowledge of the industry by reading fashion magazines, using the internet and visiting factories if possible.
  • Be energetic and passionate about what you do!

Handbag designer related jobs

  • Footwear designer
  • Leather craftworker
  • Product designer
  • Retail buyer
  • Textile designer

Salary of a British handbag designer

  • Handbag designers in their first job might earn £17,000 a year, rising to around £23,000 with experience.
  • Senior designers could earn from around £30,000 to over £40,000.

British handbag designer job

  • A degree in fashion or a designrelated subject is essential for this very competitive career. A portfolio of art work is essential, and many people complete a foundation course in art and design before their degree.
  • Some universities offer degrees which cover accessory design, including the London College of Fashion's BA Product Design and Development for the Fashion Industries.
  • Short courses in accessory and handbag design are also available.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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