The Bag Story – The Craftsmanship that made a Dream come alive

In this 2-part article, we will take you behind the makings of one of our popular designs – the 29 Pocket Wallet Bag. In Part 1, we take you behind the story of its conception and explore the design and production process.

There was never just a bag that could do all the things that she needed – one bag that you can travel with, use for a home party or special event; even take to the office every day. The perfect bag with the versatility to use in all these scenarios, yet was compact and had ample storage for all her essentials. Frustration led to inspiration as Junko Kemi, founder of kay me, created the 29 Pocket Wallet Bag to resolve these problems.

The 29 Pocket Wallet Bag was designed by kay me founder Junko Kemi’s vision of the most ideal bag that could be used for overseas travel, business events, and dinner parties. She decided to list up what she needed in the new design from pain points she faced with her bags in different scenarios.

For example, for international flights…

  1. It can store my passport, pen, and smartphone together
  2. Have space to store eye drops and lipstick inside instead of carrying a separate makeup pouch
  3. During international travels, it can store two currencies in separate compartments
  4. Let me walk around the airport hands-free
  5. Be super compact! The easier it is to carry, the easier the trip will be!

For business parties…

6. Have four separate card slots to store and organize business cards
7. Have special slots for important items such as credit cards and keep them close
8. It can easily store my compact foundation and eyebrow pencil for touch-ups
9. I can wear it as a crossbody when exchanging business cards or if I have a glass in my hand
10. Is simple, subtle and doesn’t draw too much attention from others, and I can easily cover my bag’s content from curious eyes

For dinners…

11. I can transform the bag from when I am on-the-go to a minimalistic clutch easily for dinner
12. I want something classy for special occasions – like champagne gold or silver colors

The list keeps on going!

But no bag was to be found that could meet all of these requirements, so instead, it was simply decided that we make it ourselves. And thus we began researching.

We began by asking a few simple questions like “How should we fit a passport in the bag?” “What thickness is necessary to fit both makeup and a smartphone?”

Taking all these points in, we started measuring the items and worked out a size that would fit all the items we needed.

Of course, a must-have factor would be it had to be made of vegan, sustainable, premium quality material and put together using only highly skilled craftsmanship

The Journey of the Dream Bag begins!

Bringing the Concept to Life

First, the process began from choosing what is necessary, functional, and smart to deploy. Each pocket size, width, and length was carefully calculated, and incorporated into the design.

When all these factors were deliberated on with our design team, the compact 29-pocket wallet bag was created – and we were all surprised by the amount of parts in this bag!

Finding the Perfect Factory

With the concept solidified, and the design drawn out, we began the search for a bag factory in Japan that would bring this design to life. After asking our peers and endless Google searches, we narrowed down the list and started making the rounds to several factories. Our complex 29-pocket wallet bag design made from vegan material was seen as a great challenge for many factories, and it was rejected by them.

Will it have to sacrifice its functionality and beauty for the sake of acceptance?

After a long period of searching, we finally found a bag factory in Yamagata that was up for the challenge. After sharing our vision and creating the blueprint, our prototype was finally made.

The prototype was made with the same shape, size, and pocket numbers as the final product so we could test the true functionality of it

Although this was still a prototype, seeing our concept become a tangible object was incredibly moving.

43 Different Molds!

After checking the prototype, the real production process began. First, the molds for the materials were made. These molds had a sharp edge on one side to punch through the material. The molds are made from a long, thin ribbon-like metal that is bent to create the desired shape and size. All of them were custom-made and shaped just to make this bag. On top of that, as the outer lining, interlining, and inner lining are all different materials with varying thicknesses, each pattern piece of the bag requires 1-3 different molds with different blades to cut that individual piece.

In total, 43 custom-made molds for this wallet bag was made!

The craftsmen used each mold to individually cut each piece by hand. 1 bag called for 90 individual pieces from the lining to outer, meaning the craftsmen had to hand-cut 90 times.

We asked the craftsmen if it was possible to layer the material to cut several at a time, but they responded that it wasn’t possible. It could only be cut one layer by one, as to not risk distorting the blade as it cut, leaving the pieces mis-matched and thrown away.

It was here that we finally realized how much work is needed to make this ‘Dream Bag’.

To see the range of 29 Pocket Wallet Bags, click here. Its story continues in Part 2 coming soon!

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