Thursday, 31 December 2009

Review of The Year

To say 2009 has been a busy year at From Rags To Bags is probably a bit of an understatement. Lots of items have been made, including new handbags designs, and new items have been added such as handbag charms and felt items. Better still lots of items have been sold, with sales up an incredible 70% on 2008!

I have been working hard at promoting the website over the year. As well as selling on Etsy, Dawanda and Folksy, From Rags To Bags hit Facebook with its own profile page, click here, which currently has over 500 hundred fans. More fans seem to appear each week, many of whom leave comments and feedback which is helpful. Twitter was also added to the marketing assault, click here, with more than 650 people now following From Rags To Bags tweets. Again, the numbers of people just seems to keep growing. I just need to try to remember to post comments a bit more often.

One of the most enjoyable online tools From Rags To Bags embraced in 2009 was this blog. It has been a really useful outlet for highlighting new products and generally muttering about handbags in general. I have lots more ideas for blog postings on my to do list. The numbers following the blog are steadily growing too, so I guess what I write must be of interest. Having recently added the flag counter feature, it is quite fun checking to see which countries have visited. I am in competition with a fellow blogger to see who can get the most flags. She is currently winning. That needs to be addressed in 2010. More flags please!

I am constantly mulling over new design ideas, so hopefully lots more stock will be added to the website for sale in the coming year. I have got a pile of vintage handbags awaiting repairs too which will hopefully make their way onto the site soon. The January sale is now on to clear out some stock to make way for the new, so please take a look and bag yourself a bargain.

Thanks to everyone who has bought a From Rags To Bags item in the past, everyone who is a fan of Facebook, who is following on Twitter and who follows the blog. Without customers there wouldn't be much need for me to make anything. I hope you all have a very happy and prosperous 2010.

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Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Grand Designs

I have just spent a week's holiday in Las Vegas which is not only a great place for a spot of gambling but also a great place for a spot of shopping if you get lucky on the gaming tables. The hotels, or resorts as they tend to be referred to, offer a huge range of shopping, for most pockets. Some of my favourite haunts though are the top end fashion houses.

Las Vegas offers not one but multiple Louis Vuitton stores, as well as Fendi, Prada, Dior, Chanel, Hermes, Gucci and Emilio Pucci. It is shopping heaven if designer labels are your bag. I found it the perfect place for having a good browse. It is not often that I get a chance to get my sticky fingers on designer handbags and have a good poke about in them, so I took full advantage.

On the whole, I think most shop assistants these days have watched the film "Pretty Woman". Whilst I am in no doubt they knew I wasn't going to buy a handbag, they were, on the whole, helpful, friendly and polite. They didn't overtly judge me on my jeans and walking boots (well, apart from one anyway). For all they knew, I might have just had a big win in the casinos. As it happens, it was a case of have credit card, could buy one if I wanted to, I just couldn't actually justify the price tags and didn't really want to spend the next six months paying off a handbag!

Whilst I am sure the stores can justify the price tags, I really can't. I know the bags are handmade, using the best materials and you are also paying for the name. On the whole though, the handbags are relatively mass produced and I don't necessarily want to spent over a thousand pounds on a handbag that someone else has as well. You can buy one off handmade handbags for a fraction of the cost, which are also well made.

For a lot of people, owing a designer handbag is simply a status symbol. The Louis Vuitton handbag with it's distinctive LV monogram is easy to spot. It is also probably one of the most copied designs as well, with cheap replicas cropping up in many a cheap gift or luggage store. It is ironic to think that Louis Vuitton first put his initials on his luggage to guard against fakes. The other designers are also fairly easy to spot too, with Prada's badge, Fendi's buckles, Dior's D tags etc. Personally, I don't want a handbag that screams its provenance though. I like a bag to be a bit more discreet about its price tag. If I paid hundreds, let alone over a thousand for a handbag, I would be terrified of using it in case I damaged it and got mugged for it.

If you are not going to have the pleasure of using an item that has the sole purpose of being used, there is no point buying it. For me, handbags are all about form and function. I was surprised how many designer bags, were all show and not enough form. I would at the very least expect metal feet on the bottom of larger handbags to protect the bottom from dirt.

I have to admit I was quite taken with one Fendi evening bag which was beautifully beaded all over with a chain strap. It was a good size and very pretty. It was also US$1600. It got me thinking about all of the exquisite vintage beaded handbags I have sold in the past for a fraction of the price. Why pay so much for a beaded handbag when you can buy vintage?

Of course, there are always exceptions to any rule. For me the exception has got to be Hermes. I didn't even have the courage to go in and put my sticky fingerprints on a Hermes bag. I was like the Little Match Girl in the fairytale with her nose against the shop window. I just looked in awe at the handbag on the shelf. For me, Hermes handbags are the most perfect form, offering understated elegance yet functionality. I know the price, my credit card shook with fear. I also know that they take weeks to make by master craftsmen, using the finest leather.

I would like to think, and hope, that one day, just maybe, if I get lucky in Vegas, I might, just might be able to justify buying, loving, cherishing and above all using, a Hermes Birkin or Kelly handbag. Maybe, just maybe.

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Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Black Beauty!

With the party season fast approaching, I wanted to make an over the top party bag. I was browsing through a glossy magazine a couple of weeks ago and noticed that brocade fabrics were in vogue right now. Having found a black brocade shift dress in a charity shop locally, it seemed like the perfect fabric for making my lastest creation.

I kept the style simple with just a single pleat front and back which offers a roomy interior without making the handbag seem too large and used a single strap made from the same brocade fabric. The oversized bow is from a chiffon remnant I picked up which I was going to utilise as a lining in a felt handbag. The diamonte pendant stitched in the centre of the bow adds just the right amount of sparkle and bling for any party.

I love the contrast of the lining fabric. It is a chequered satin fabric which gives a really luxurious feel when you put your hand inside the handbag. The bright colours give a further fun element to the bag as well.

Overall, I am really pleased with the handbag. It is really tempting to keep this one. I have listed it for sale on my website at the moment but who knows how long it will stay there!

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