It is a long journey that begins early morning at eight from the Lo Wu train station, the final MTR station that borders Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Then you need to rush across customs to the gates that conduct a biometric scan of your face and fingerprint to verify your identity. Depending on the flow of people, that process takes about 20– 30 minutes. Then you should board the express rail from Shenzhen to Guangzhou East station, which takes up to 2 hours. Shenzhen is vast and is another industrial hub and technology-based city. The area is hustling and bustling with other merchants from all parts of the mainland. People looking for opportunities are everywhere in textiles, electronics, toys, watches, appliances, etc. Guangzhou is a much more developed city with more financial and industrial stability than Hong Kong.
At the global manufacturer in Guangzhou, we visited their showroom to understand more about current industry trends in materials and bag trends that we would consider applying to Karner's bag collection. It's one of Guangzhou's largest garment factories producing backpacks and travel bags for global distributors. Travelling is always a struggle, but it is necessary to meet with senior managers in person to get things done faster and up to standard. We go to the showroom to discuss details and refine the designs using the factory's specifications and the latest stitching techniques. We then walk over to the place where the seamstresses are stitching our shoulder straps together.
At the same time, the senior supervisor discusses the different yoga matt carriers we could incorporate into the Karner backpack and the duffel bags. We go over details like inner mesh pockets and shoe compartments from previous samples sent to our studio in HK. We make adjustments and comments on the prototype and then bring them back when meeting with the factory manager. Using examples of other bags in their showroom helped us effectively visualize what we wanted with the materials' compartments, proportions, colours, and textures—this made the process efficient and enabled us to avoid miscommunication.
It aided us in choosing some good water repellent material. Good discussions on how to place and make the shoe compartment and the double water bottle compartments. The zipper pockets are all made with YKK zippers. But we still expect to make up to ten samples until we were happy with the final results.