Adele, you´ve worked in the world of fashion and accessories for quite some time now, so you know this industry well. Tell us a bit about your professional career.
I was a graphic designer but then did a Masters in accessories´ design. Since then I´ve worked for different types of businesses but all related to fashion. I started in a small craft studio specialising in shoes in Madrid – Franjul. Then I worked for Sfera (clothing brand of the Corte Inglés chain) and Zara and other small companies producing for the luxury market.
¿Typically how many of one particular kind of bag might industry produce for a seasonal collection?
It depends on the kind of company. A multinational might produce up to 240,000 of one design in one particular colour, but a high-end luxury brand might produce just 200.
¿What would you say are the hallmarks of a quality bag?
A well-made bag has fittings which don´t change or lose their colour, metal zips – where the colour of the zip isn´t lighter than the colour of the leather. If possible it should be exactly the same colour, and this is also true for the colour of the thread used to sew the piece. The lining should never be of polyester!
In your opinion can hand-made bags compete with industry?
Clients for hand-made bags are different, so I believe industry and craft are not in competition. The person buying a hand-made bag pays more for higher quality and for the distinctive and unique character of the bag, as long as, of course, it is well designed as well as well-made.
¿What are some of the advantages and disadvantes that a craftsperson has compared to industry?
The craft maker has a freedom to define their overall design brief and he or she isn´t so limited by fashion trends. The disadvantages include the limited access to raw materials: the minimum orders that suppliers insist on are just too big for small craft producers.
¿What advice or tips can you offer deigner-weavers who want to design their own bags?
I´d recommend that they remember that the main feature of the bag is the fabric itself, rather than the bag. Making and designing bags can be a complicated business – it is, after all, a sector in its own right. When a weaver designs a bag they would do well to think of something simple or else seek advice and help from an expert in bag design, or work on a design in collaboration.
You´ve been working and training at Anna Champeney Estudio Textil, a small fabric weaving studio in rural northwest Spain this November. Can you tell us a bit about the work you´ve been doing?
I´ve been helping Anna to make up some of the studio´s products for sale in the shop, and I´ve also learned a lot about the theory necessary for understanding basic weaving design – how to set up a loom, select the fabric structure, select yarns correctly… Then I´ve put all of this into practice in the design and weaving of a final project – in my case – fabric for a bag and matching shoes.
You´re used to living in Madrid, so coming to rural northwest spain has been quite a change for you. What have your impressions been of the village of Cristosende where the textile studio is based, and the surrounding Ribeira Sacra area?
It´s a very peaceful area, perfect, in fact, for concentrating on learning to weave. The landscape is also very inspiring, for its colours, textures, and light.
What has been the main challenge of learning to weave?
Setting up the loom in such a way that the final result is similar to the orginal idea I had in my head. The best part has been being able to improvise once the loom was set up, and just play with all the different possibilities for using colour and texture.
Visit the Anna Champeney online textile and basket shop – we are now open for christmas
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