Are you curious about how our backpacks, bags, and various organization packs and accessories are made? Ever since we re-opened our showroom back in May, our crew has been so happy to welcome customers from near and far! A common request that we get from our visitors is if we can provide a tour of the factory so they can get a deeper understanding of the manufacturing process, and we're always happy to do so since we know it's not super common these day to be a design house, manufacturer, and direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand all-in-one. As a certified B corp, one of our core values is to provide our customers with transparency into our supply chain. Not only do we tell you what materials go into your bag, our doors are also always open to the general public during factory hours so you can view the manufacturing yourself and see our crew at work.
For those who are not able to come visit in-person in Seattle, here is a quick rundown of our cut and sew process.
Step 1: Picking the materials
Every bag has a bill of materials (kind of like an ingredients list) linked to it. It details out the exact, carefully calculated quantities needed of everything: buckles, zipper pulls, coil chains, webbing, shell fabric, lining fabric, mesh, foam, nylon binding tape, and lots and lots of o-rings. Our materials manager is in charge of picking everything that is needed from the shelves to prepare for production.
Step 2: Cutting the Fabric
Once all the materials are picked off shelves, we first move the fabric over to the cutting table for our fabric cutters to cut into individual pattern pieces. Every design is digitized into a 2D pattern, which we print onto a massive piece of paper (any guesses at how many individual pieces the Synik 30 is made of?). Our cutters lay the 2D pattern onto the stacks of fabric and start tracing industrial saws along the lines with the utmost accuracy.
Step 3: 2D Sewing and Sub Assembly
We bring the cut fabrics, along with the rest of the picked materials, to the production floor. Our sewers will initiate the first half of sewing process: putting lining against the shell, assembling the zipper pulls onto the chains, sewing the chains onto the individual panels, attaching logos, and more.
Step 4: 3D Sewing and Joining
Next, we move all the individual pieces over to the second half of the production floor, where our joiners will take the 2D pieces and assemble together into 3D forms.
Step 5: Bar Tacking
Have you ever looked inside your TOM BIHN bag and noticed heavy stitches? This is called a bar tack, a technique that we use to reinforce the insides, particularly on areas of stress, of every bag.
Step 6: Quality Assurance
Afterwards, the bags are ready to move to QA. Our QA team checks every bag individually and thoroughly to ensure each is sewn to our standard. If a bag doesn't pass QA, it goes right back to the production floor for fixing.
Step 7: Fulfillment
All the bags that pass QA are now ready for fulfillment! Our team will scan them into our system, arrange the bags neatly onto our shelves, load the inventory onto our website, and prepare for shipping.
And that's quite possibly the most simplified rundown of our process. In reality, there are many steps within each step, and details and challenges that vary by bag. Any particular questions you have in mind? Ask them below and we will try our best to answer!