We are back for a blog post in English, and that did not happen for a long time!
Those last months have been filled with the creation of new bags containing a more personal touch than our previous products.
As the creation of a new product is an adventure with its moments of failure and success, during which we are constantly learning new thing, also filled with doubts and on the contrary with joy and motivation, gathering all of these in a blog post felt like a way of keeping a trace of those sensations we had during the creation of the Shiki ori-ori shoulder bag collection.
Back in September 2018, after the airing of "Watashi ga nihon ni sumu riyuu" (Why I live in Japan) on national television, we received a lot of messages cheering us and asking us for new products.
It has been difficult to choose the next product we would develop next, and after some weeks of consideration of all the tips we got, we chose to go with a more colorful shoulder bag collection.
The path between this decision and the release of the new bags will be the subject of today's post.
A collection about "nature and seasons"
Some of our readers might know me from another media than C.MARIE, but I am not what could be called a proper "designer". I am just someone who loves to draw (I can spend my whole days drawing if no one stopped me) since I was a child.
Comics, characters illustrations, architecture, landscapes, flowers, I love to draw anything that can be drawn.
Last year, I had the chance to experience my drawings to turn 3D with our first products, so the next step was to leave some illustrations on or in the bag.
Since the creation of C.MARIE, I had the idea to draw my own patterns that would be printed on the lining of the bags, in order to show this "illustrator" side of me.
When it comes to product creation, I am the only one to draw, but Shota and me both decide every point together.
We then decided the number of colors we would use for the bags, 4 or 5, that is when we thought about a collection about the very classical theme "4 seasons", through the flowers in Japan.
At first, we of course automatically thought "cherry trees, momiji", but while thinking about colors, coherence as a collection, we finally chose :
Camellia for winter, Daffodil for Spring, Hydrangeas for Summer and Physalis for Fall.
Here are the first sketches and the final illustrations of each flower.
Concerning the shape of the bag, I wanted it to be small and to have a flap, where the flowers would be printed and would appear when the bag is opened, like a surprise.
Le visual concept was very clear to me before even putting my ideas onto paper, I just had to then think about "how" this bag would come to a real life shape.
But the creation of the bags took a while...
Deciding of the visual aspect of the bags was not difficult. However, it's when we did the first prototypes and discovered the new materials we were to use that some unexpected delays appeared.
At first, the craftsmen that are manufacturing our handbags were not able to make those new bags concerning their workload at the moment. It was mid-October 2018, and there was 7 months full of reservations at the time. We then chose to work with a new craftsman located in our region.
We did not have to go that far as our new partner is located in Fukuoka, the hometown of Shota.
It took some months to adapt to a new way of making bags, as work methods differ from one craftsman to another. We were then able to create the first prototypes and to work on all the details.
We made tests for the size and color of the threads, the size and aspect of all the parts keeping the bag together, the belt's size, the aspect of metallic parts...
Concerning the illustrations that would be printed inside the bags, we chose to print one big illustration inside the flap, and one inside each pocket that would only be discovered by the owners of the bags.
We also had to look for a place to print the fabric. The first print test was not a success at all, and it took some more to find the right place to be satisfied with the result.
And some more delays later, the first bags can finally be produced !!
4 new bags that narrate the seasons in Japan
Some months of tests later, we can finally present our new bags !
Tsubaki x Black (Camellia)
The Camellia is a tree I started to love once I spent a winter in Japan. Its pink flowers bloom in a lot of places from December, putting a touch of color in the grayscale map landscape.
When the flap is open, you can see Camellia drawn in golden yellow on black cotton, putting a touch of color to this black bag as Camellia do with wintery landscapes.
This bag is a basic which you can wear with colorful as well as sober clothes.
Suisen x Mustard yellow (Daffodil)
Spring in Japan sounds like the classic sakura (cherry blossoms) landscape picture. For me, spring is coming when daffodil start to bloom along roads.
I used to pick daffodils with my grand mother when I was a child, and when I saw Daffodils for the first time in Japan I felt nostalgic remembering this flower picking sessions each year. For me, Daffodil is the starting point of all the beautiful flowers of spring.
The mustard color of the bags is for the yellow flowers blooming after a cold winter making us realize spring is here.
Ajisai x Khaki Green (Hydrangeas)
I am often asked if seasons are the same in France and in Japan, and I always answer that they are quite close, except Japan has a rainy season, during which Hydrangeas are in full bloom.
During this period of time, they can be found in any nature spot like parks, temples and shrines, gardens and so on.
Hydrangea is for me the flower announcing a hot and humid summer to come.
For the bag itself, I chose a Khaki green because summer landscapes in Japan are mainly made of many shades of green, that beautifully contrast with the purple hydrangeas drawn in the bag.
Hozuki x Carmine red (Physalis)
Physalis, also called « Japanese lantern », are those beautiful plants with fruits enclosed in an orange papery husk that dries when autumn comes, revealing small orange balls within a white and gentle cage.
The Hozuki bag is carmine red on the outside, color of passion, referring to another nickname given in French « love in a cage », as physalis comes from Greek for « protection ».
Inside the bag can be found variations of Physalis through the seasons.
And the collection was born !
We only had to find a name for the collection (it may be unexpected, but finding names for things is always the last and most difficult step for us haha).
And it came pretty easily once the bags were almost here... The Japanese expression "Shiki Ori-Ori", meaning throughout the seasons, was the perfect match !
We were able to present those new bags in the local television program from FBS TV, with the craftsman who is making our bags (on the left in the picture).
This day was the first time we saw our bags ready to be sold! It is always a great moment to see them coming to life !
Also, here are some pictures of the final steps of the creation of a collection : thinking about the promotion pictures, about the tags, and how the bags will be sent.
This is how we were able to announce on 3rd, June those new bags on our social media. With of course a lot of emotions when receiving the first orders, the first cheering messages... It is a bit hard to realize in the first days that the bags are HERE ! But I got used to it now, and I am so loving to use the yellow one and the black one :D
Here it is for this "test post". It was quite interesting to try to gather all about the creation of those bags, event if I think I forgot some things along the way... For the next products I will try to be more complete and try to remember a lot more details !
If there is something you would like to know or that is not clear, please comment in the section below or contact us on our social media !
Thanks for reading this looong post, and see you soon on this blog !
Marie (and Shota)