If you’re here reading this, odds are that you’ve spent thousands of dollars on handbags and accessories in your lifetime, but how well do you understand what goes into making them? I’m betting that most bag lovers have only a vague idea at best, but wouldn’t it be fun to be able to take a peek behind the curtain?

Thanks to an excellent series of videos of Neiman Marcus’s blog, we can do just that with the famous Marc Jacobs Stam as our guinea pig. The four clips take us all the way from conception to manufacturing, and all of the important details of realizing an idea are there, from making the patterns to dying the leather to bending the metal for the Stam’s signature frame. My favorite video is the fourth one, above, which shows how the Marc Jacobs bag is actually assembled. You can check out the first three after the jump and view the original posts at Neiman Marcus Daily.

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Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • Leah

    LOVE these videos – I’m a HUGE Stam fan :)

  • sunflower

    Wonderful videos. I had to take my Stam out of the closet and bask in the loveliness.

    I always feel like I get my money’s worth from Marc Jacobs and now I see why. Also, I think I can figure out what brands buy the lower grade skins.

  • kemilia

    I’ve always wanted a Stam! It is one of the classics, imo.

  • Purse Obsessed

    First, I want to disclose that I do not own a Stam but I do own two other Marc Jacobs bags. I LOVE PURSES!! I own about 100 and absolutely love this blog. But when I see things like the video, it makes me kinda ill. Why? Because it gives this “illusion” that this and all other products carry some mantel if expensive quality. Since most consumers do not understand retail mark-up, they think they are actually purchasing a $1,400 bag. When in reality, this bag probably cost MJ $140 to manufacturer, Between his mark-up to the retailer and their mark-up to consumers that is where the “value” lies because it is really expensive to run a retail business. But I hate that consumers are fooled into thinking their product, any product, is worth what they paid for it. I cried for three days when a friend of mine educated me on all of this. I still purchase things of course but now I actually know what it is worth which I am sure is different “definition for everyone. Just my two cents.

    • rose60610

      If we judged the retail value of almost anything based on the cost of raw materials alone, you’d never see anyone pay over $100 for a painting by Picasso, a skirt by Prada, or a tire by Michelin. One needs to consider the artistry, talent, design, education, engineering, production costs including employee wages, benefits, manufacturing equipment, utilities, building leases, insurance, advertising, and so on behind the products we buy.

      That being said, we largely buy on emotion. How will this product make me feel? Will it add to my sense of self worth? Will it help me get noticed? “Perception is reality.” Manolo Blahnik finds enough consumers for his $600 shoes when they could easily find shoes at Payless for $20. Why buy an S class Mercedes when you can get buy with a Ford Focus based on steel prices?

      A value is what enough consumers perceive it to be, e.g.what the market will bear. If a designer can command thousands for a handbag or an artist millions for a painting, good for them. For every Marc Jacobs there are many designers just as good, just not as well known. Yet. An nobody has to buy anything from any of them.

      • Purse Obsessed

        I could agree with you more. Purchases are based on emotions and desire. And If I had it, I would pay anything to own a Picasso of my very own. :) Never gonna happen. :) But I just wanted to clear up something. That $140 is not the cost of raw materials. It is the manufacturing cost which includes labor, marketing, materials, etc. Typical retail mark up is as follow. X retailer sales a shirt for $50, X retailer purchases it wholesale for $10 from designer who created for $4 which includes material cost and everything else and marks it up to $10 to cover their P&L like X retailer who marks it up to $50. But you are %100 correct in everything you said.

    • I don’t think that’s really the impression that the video intends to give. It’s a truthful look at how the things we buy are made, but it doesn’t put a dollar mark on any part of the process. I think that when considered rationally, most of us would be able to figure out that the raw materials in our bags don’t cost thousands of dollars. If anything, I think the video makes it even clearer. But raw materials never make up the entire cost of an item when purchased at retail, which is clear from this series. Research & development, marketing, logistics, transport and facilities costs all play in, not to mention the salaries of the dozens of people involved. Everything that we buy, from T-shirts to sports cars, is more than the sum of its parts.

      • kouturecrochet.com

        well said. Thats part of the price you pay. and thats why hermes, lv, even MJ bags tend to have simpler more classic designs. Often the simpler the design, the harder it is to make why? because every single small imperfection stands out like a soar thumb. the process of checking the skins is an important part of the process because for those bags, and for what they cost you think someone would not be upset if they got an LV with a big blemish on the leather? heck yea they would. so its not just the some total of what the pieces cost is also the time and labor that goes into insuring that that small piece of leather that makes up a wallet is really is perfect.

        I am a one woman operation and even for my little ties its still a lot of work because it is so simple. any small mistake comes out like a soar thumb. so i dont think its a “glorification” of the process, but rather showing the parts of the process that are the most interesting and makes good video.


  • Jen

    Love the video, thanks for posting! So interesting to get an inside look at what goes into making the Stam. Would love to see more videos like this whenever you find them!!!

  • carmencatalina

    I think only considering the cost of the raw materials is a bit ridiculous – you have to also consider the cost of the labor (in this case, skilled labor) involved.

    The people involved in the making of this type of bag are craftsmen/women, my assumption is that they are paid a decent wage for this type of work, as they should be. There is also the cost of the machinery itself, of its upkeep, of the space in which the craftmen work, etc.

    The cost of raw materials alone do not equal the cost of manufacturing in any case, and certainly not when there is any large amount of hand work involved.

  • Linda

    That was such a wonderful video. It make me want to purchase a stam now!

  • Chele

    Thanks for posting these videos. I always enjoy these little peeks into the creation of bags.

  • ellenbakes

    That was a fascinating “inside” look that I know I’d never have the opportunity to witness up close and personal. Attention to detail and quality I’ll never tire of that.

  • gidannodza

    Thank you Amanda for putting up this post, being a self taught bag designer and maker, these videos not only gave me an insight to how the big major designers work, from conception to the final product, but they also serve as a great source of inspiration to me.


  • gidannodza

    What I won’t give to have real life access to this tannery…ahhhh!!! leather heaven :D


  • bags leather

    Thanks for this lovely post I liked it and keep on coming..

  • thundercloud

    this is a GREAT post. i love seeing how the stams are made, especially since i just added one to my collection. =) 

    regardless of the specific bag, it’s so interesting to see how things are made. we don’t always realize what goes into the things we use/have.  i would love to see more videos like this. =)