Best 5 Bag Design Tips with Phil Hayes


Phil Hayes is Pacsafe’s Executive VP of Global Product. He has worked for decades designing accessories and apparel for brands like Quiksilver, Rip Curl, Animal and more. Bringing products from concept, to design, to sourcing then shipping is Phil’s thing. He’s seen every trend, every detail and every fabric imaginable. So, it’s pretty safe to say he knows a thing or two about bag design. We asked Phil for his best 5 bag design tips for people looking to break into the game.
Here are his picks…

  1. Ask yourself ‘who is using the bag?’

This will make a huge difference on almost every aspect in designing the bag. Even if they’re carrying similar things, people of different ages, genders or lifestyles will demand different function. For example older people tend to like larger zip pullers, a surfer will need somewhere to put in some wax, a tech geek will be a lot more particular about the padding in their laptop compartment. Start with the user and go from there.   

  1. Think about your price point

It might sound mercenary to talk price right away, but if you’re building something to a certain price it will narrow down what you can do with the bag. This is a good thing. Fabric choice, hardware and amount of features will all depend on what market you’re focusing on. Even if you’re aiming for high prices, it will mean you’re looking at specific materials. So set a target at retail and work back for what cost you need to make it for.

  1. Select your fabric

What fabric you choose will depend on the user and what you want the bag to do. Does it need to have a fashion appeal? Is it an adventure bag that needs durable material? Should it be waterproof? Once you know the fabric you’re after then you can start figuring out the best way to pull it together.

  1.  Figure out your key features

At Pacsafe we always include security features on our bags that protect your belongings, your bag and your identity. That’s what makes our bags unique. You need to figure out what your stand out item is going to be. Every feature needs to be carefully thought out too. There’s often more to it than you think. For example we are working on a collab with one of the most respected skate brands on the planet at the moment (we will be announcing this soon – stay tuned). Since the bag is designed to carry a skateboard we need to get the abrasion pad on the front of the bag perfect, so the deck doesn’t destroy the fabric.

  1. Test, Test, Test

This is last in the prototype process but one of the most important things to get right before full production. Some bags can involve around 40 different components – that’s a lot that can go wrong, right ? Pacsafe bags go through rigorous testing to the point where we have less than a 1% return rate. Yours need to stand up to the rigours of everyday use. Get your friends to try, use it heavily yourself, listen to feedback and improve. Then, test again.

So there you have it, 5 tips for bag design with expert Phil Hayes. Now get those ideas flowing, apply the advice and have at it. Good luck!

By Tim Hawken




Tim Hawken is an Australian writer who enjoys surfing, Indian food and romantic midnight strolls to the beer fridge. He has clocked up visits to 23 countries on 5 continents (and counting). Find out more about his weird world by heading to his website, or following him on Instagram and Twitter.

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