Fashion Revolution Week 2017: Part 4, in the sample room

As well as in our rural village workshop, some of my Indian colleagues are also based in a small office and workshop in the city of Chennai.

Having a place in Chennai makes it easier for sample making as it’s close to the tanneries and material suppliers. So when I ask for orange stitch and it’s not in stock, it can usually be procured, the same day, fairly locally!

Meet Kumar

I’ve worked with Kumar for several years now. He’s the main sample maker and is usually based at the Chennai workshop.

When I come up with a new design, I sketch all my ideas down in detail on several sheets of A4 paper. I draw every view possible so that Kumar can get a clear idea of the bag he’s about to start work on.

A three-quarter sketch view of the design shows the overall look I want (in perspective) and then flat line drawings of the front and back of the bag follow. I usually draw a flat side view and base view too and sometimes even a view into the top of the bag, if the zip is to be attached in a certain way.

As attention to detail and practicality are hallmarks of my work, I usually do a flat line drawing of the lining inside the bag too – back and front lining views are necessary, as they are usually different.

The pages are topped off with detailed notes of the leather or materials to be used, the stitch thickness and colour, zip specification and of course details of every measurement from height, width and depth, to handle length and even zip puller length.

Kumar then gets to work, making the pattern pieces out of card and then cutting the leather for my new creation.

I love this part and when I’m in India, working with him, it’s even easier to answer his questions if he has any. We have a slight language barrier as Kumar only understands a little English and can’t speak it and I only know one word of Tamil – that’s Nandrie (thank you) – but lots of gesturing, extra sketches on the spare bits of card and lots of ‘Nandries’ usually does the trick and a beautiful new sample is made.

Once the sample is finished, Kumar passes it to Masheswari, who cleans it up, trimming any stray threads before packing it up to send it to me.

That’s the Queen B bag in a new antique look chocolate brown leather, coming into stock for Autumn 2017.

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