Why Development Matters

Almost all product companies have a distinctive design process to create strong concepts, but no product would be worth its weight without development – the unsung hero that makes everything you have worth owning. Development takes a great design and makes it a great product by translating a designer’s vision into tangible instructions for the manufacturing partner. This role exists in almost every product space, but we are going to focus on soft goods. 

Soft goods designers start with some functional goals and a general idea for the look and feel of a future bag before setting to work, researching, drawing and making mockups. Usually by the end of the design process, designers created a set of technical drawings showing every detail about the bag (a spec or tech-pack). At this point, a designer could hand off the drawing to a factory and get a very disappointing sample. Instead, to create the strongest products, designers collaborate with developers. Developers vary in approach and skillset, but generally, a developer is expert in all aspects of material, construction, and performance of the bag. Before the good is ever made, developers can identify where factories will have trouble with construction or where the design might have functional shortcomings. For example, say a zipper sticks on our roll top because of the stiff fabric used for the rain flap. After testing, we find edge-binding the flap instead of folding the fabric creates a thinner, more flexible flap, and the low friction of the new binding helps the zipper run smoother against the flap edge. While maybe not fascinating work, this one day of testing saves weeks of deliberation with a factory. 

Designs shared with talented developers are revised so textiles match product needs, sewing operations are clear, and the bag functions as the designer intended. After these details are resolved, full spec and construction samples are sent to a factory for sampling. It’s clear all the groundwork for a good factory sample needs to be laid out; it also proves a design is only as good as development. 

As we prepare to launch our roll top, we are proud of this project because almost all development happens in-house (though we still definitely take feedback from factories). We internally pattern, sample, and test our bags, working out plenty of kinks before the factory even sees it. We found it’s far more efficient to fail early and often than wait till a bag is in the market to find shortcomings. Though this process takes time, we revel in understanding and resolving every detail so you, our users, can just enjoy performance.