How It’s Made: A PHD Handbag Collection

Form without function is futile, and honestly what fun is function without form? This is why at PHD when I design new handbags and collections I spend countless hours perfecting both. Want to know the inside story of what it takes? Here is a peak into how I designed our recent Spree Collection.

1.       Meditation and Sketching Sessions

The power of meditation for their business has been making headlines. Everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Warren Buffet and Russell Simmons tout the power of meditation for their business successes. To some it may sound a bit hokey, but for me a 20-minute meditation followed by 20 minutes of free-form sketching are extremely powerful tools in the initial process of designing new handbags and collections.  Elements from the Spree Collection, such as the skirt design feature (inspired by the 17th century robe a l'anglaise dress, left) are owed to my meditation practice.

2.       Design for Optimal Strap Length

Optimal strap length is critical at PHD. Why? Because I believe bags must have, as I like to call it, elbow clearance. Elbow clearance simply means a woman must be able to easily swing the bag onto her shoulder with one hand so it doesn’t get tangled up in her arm or elbow.

While resting on a woman’s shoulder, it must fit three critical criteria:  feel weightless, fit women of all sizes, and clear heavy winter coats. With these non-negotiables taken into consideration, the Spree Collection was designed with a 13-inch strap drop length to perfectly accommodate today’s modern on-the-go woman.

3.       Decide Optimal Opening Width

Similar to strap length, careful consideration goes into deciding the final opening width of PHD handbags. Make the opening too small and women are forced to take the bag off their shoulder and perform the dreaded “hunt through the black hole”. Make the opening width the appropriate size and women can easily open their bag while it rests comfortably on their shoulder, see in and around their bag, and quickly locate what they need.

While many bags today are designed with an 11-inch opening, the Spree Collection and many of the PHD handbags are designed with a 13-inch opening to ensure they not only look good but also support women’s busy lives.

 4.       Determining a Hard or Soft Bottom

Once the dimensions are set, one of the next decisions to be made is if the bag should have a hard or a soft bottom. Like all PHD handbags, the Spree Collection was designed for real women dealing with the realities of day to day lives. For this reason, we chose a hard bottom for this collection, so whatever surface it sits on it will stand on its own.

5.       Finalizing design elements

The skirt is the primary design element for the Spree Collection, but I always look for areas where additional design can improve the bag. For this collection, I decided on a piping detail around the perimeter and reversed knots to give it a more sophisticated flair. Additionally, I added a barely-visible pocket for women to easily tuck and access their iPad or Kindle.

6.       Work with Our Manufacturer to Design a Unique Sewing Process

The PHD handbags are sewn from the inside out, and only when complete are they then flipped to reveal their final design. This means I work closely with our factory to determine precisely how the bag will be constructed.  (As you can imagine, this can be a bit of a mind bender!) For the Spree Collection, the challenge was determining how to properly attach the skirt feature and how to sew the hidden outside pockets. It took multiple rounds of trial and error to get it exactly how I wanted it.

7.       Incorporating the PHD Elements of All Other Bags

Regardless of the handbag or the collection, there are elements which I include in all PHD designs. As such, the Spree Collection features lightweight, weatherproof and waterproof premium Italian nylon found on all my bags. The Spree Collection also incorporates our signature PHD silver rings, leather straps and detailing, which will not only aid in a comfy fit but ensures it does not slip off your shoulder.

Last but not least, the Spree Collection includes our signature interior mesh pockets so women can easily find their makeup & sundries, as well as the three slot pockets for the most commonly used items – sunglasses, pens and a cell phone. Our detachable key-fob is a virtual guarantee you will save countless minutes each day and never lose your keys again. Well, at least the times when they are in your bag.


See it in its final form. Browse the Spree Collection now.