I purchased a cool looking "Alibaba bag" on ebay for $40. It was a copy of a Belstaff Colonial 554 (retail $385) that was worn by Will Smith in "I am Legend" and Christian Bale in "Batman Begins" but the quality of the "Alibaba bag" sucked. The cotton canvas was cheap and thin and the "leather" looked like plastic.
But since I liked the style and utility of the bag, I looked for a way to reproduce it with the best materials and construction. I also made design improvements to the "Will Smith" bag, adding a zipper closure, a laptop computer compartment, pen and business card holders, and straps to hold an umbrella.
I sourced expensive English bridle leather and 22oz cotton canvas from British Millerain and reconstructed the "Will Smith" bag. I loved the finished product and to my surprise, the bag was still cheaper than a Luxury Designer Brand. (note: for a one off sample my production cost was three to four times the mass production price, which is the price for a minimum order of 500. At this sample price, the bag was still 50% less than a Luxury Designer Brand using similar materials and construction.)
I think now is a good time for me to explain what's special about Wellington & Cromwell compared to the controversial bamboo and wood watches that were on Kickstarter. Those watches were "stock" factory watches that were rebranded for sale.
If Wellington & Cromwell did a wood watch we would use a rare wood with ancient japanese lacquer from the special sap of a rare tree that grows under the moonlight on the mountainside in Okinawa and then we'd toss out the quartz movement and replace it with a COSC or TOP grade ETA Ebauche and then we'd source the leather strap from Horween in Chicago or Saffiano in Italy. Only then would the watch be worthy of our logo, "Edward Wellington's Lucky Spanish Doubloon"
The best analogy I can make is this:
You can get a 1 carat Tiffany diamond engagement ring for $15,000. You can spec the same exact diamond, like testing in a laboratory chemically the same, on Bluenile for $7,500, or you can buy a cubic zirconia that looks similar to both the above for $25 on Amazon. The Alibaba bag is the cubic zirconia, my Wellington & Cromwell bag is the Bluenile, and a Luxury Designer Brand bag is the Tiffany. But its not a perfect analogy because Wellington & Cromwell bags use BETTER materials than most Luxury Designer Brands.
That's when I realized this could be a business opportunity, that there might be a market for well crafted, heirloom quality goods offered at a fair price. That's why I created Wellington & Cromwell.
I designed and developed a few more bags for my personal use and I received tons of compliments on the bags. My business plan for Wellington & Cromwell is to charge 2x my FOB (freight on board) price which would price Wellington & Cromwell bags 33% to 66% under bags from Luxury Designer Brands.
I am hoping there are people out there who believe in my vision of sustainably manufactured and sourced heirloom quality goods offered at a fair price.