MA Practice Two - Product Research

Whilst visiting ‘& Other Stories’ new store in Manchester, I discovered some really unusual fashion accessories. Interesting shapes and structures that can inspire my Practice Two unit when beginning to develop a range inspired by texture and structure.

Looking at existing products in a similar market level is helpful as I can see what can be done and what is viable as a commercial product. The first leather bag that I came across is a soft blue leather over the shoulder bag which at first glance is quite simple in design, however, there are multiple pockets and compartments which I found exciting, these were almost like a hidden practical element to an otherwise ordinary product. A reminder that subtle aesthetics can be quite involved and become an intellegent, slick piece of design.

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I came across some thicker leather purses, which were simple and didn’t use much material along with clever fastenings to create a successful piece. The colours alone were quite striking. The design seemed to require folds and little stitching to become a multi-compartment vessel for coins.

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More unusual designs and shapes became apparent as I continued to search the store, the function of this purse is not complex, just a small pouch for coins, however, the form is exaggerated. The coin purse takes the shape of a five pointed star, I expect that this wouldn’t be simple to make or practical to use.

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Once I looked at the product more closely, I realised that the black plastic zipper curved around each point neatly and ran smoothly right around the shape so that it opened out flat. This could be chaotic as a product, although the design and making of this product was flawless.

The plastic zipper creates a smooth action around the shape whilst a small tab of leather overlaps the beginning and end of the zip to keep it in place and stop the two sides from being completely separated; I imagine this also hides any stitching that doesn’t need to be seen. I was sceptical of the plastic zipper and the way it looks and feels in contrast to the soft leather outter shell, although, with the use of a black cotton lining, this doesn’t cheapen the product and it looks to be finished very professionally.

The phrase form over function definitely applies with this piece but it is such a beautifully neat piece of work that it inspires me to push my design ideas to take interesting forms and shapes, although this piece is effectively two dimensional, there is no reason I could not create something with three dimensional qualities.

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By far the most interesting bag I found in ‘& Other Stories’, is the maroon leather clutch, I was drawn to this bags strange shape. The bag is comprised of two compartments, one which can be used at a normal clutch style shaped bag and another which opens at the opposite angle against the original zipper which opens up the entire space within the bag and almost doubles the size of space within the shape. Both ends of the bag could be used at once as they are separated with different linings, I expected that the double lining within the bag might make it quite bulky but this doesn’t appear to be the case. Sewing in zippers against the seams within the standard shape of a bag has created something really special, I want to have a look at conventional bag shapes and see how they could be manipulated to create something exciting and different.

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As well as considering texture and structure within my print designs, I want to look at these concepts when beginning to design fashion accessories to apply my designs to. Another element that I need to begin to explore is hardware and fabric choice. There are some really innovative fastenings, handles and straps to be used and created, I want to further my research and think about what would be appropriate for my own designs.


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© Abigail Knott 2018