Behind the Scenes: How a Tote Gets Made
Ever wondered how your KMM & Co. tote gets made? It takes a lot of steps to create a tote, and the process involves tools such as needle and thread, blades and flame, even stamps and presses.
Take a behind-the-scenes look at how our best-selling product comes together at our studio in Atlanta!
1. It all starts with the perfect piece of leather
Each tote bag gets its start on the cutting table, where we inspect every cowhide and choose the exact piece of leather for your tote. There are always dozens of hides in stock at our studio, and we hand-select the perfect one for your bag.
2. The tote gets cut from a single hide
Next, we cut each tote out of a single piece of full-grain leather. There’s nowhere to hide imperfections, so we cut carefully, using a pattern and a blade the old-fashioned way.
3. Each tote gets a matching pocket
For every tote, there's a matching pocket. Each pocket gets cut out on a press, and each piece of leather is hand-picked to make sure that the pocket is a perfect match for the tote.
4. We stitch up the tote on an industrial sewing machine
The next stop is one of our industrial sewing machines, where both the tote and the pocket get meticulously stitched. There's no going back if the stitching is out of place, so we sew carefully!
5. The tote gets prepared for riveting
In addition to stitched seams, each tote gets a riveted gusset. The next step in the process is to prepare the tote for riveting by carefully marking and punching holes for the traditional copper rivets.
6. Then, we set the rivets
After the gussets are carefully measured and marked, the tote is ready for its first round of rivets to be set! At this point in the process, the tote gets 8 copper rivets, which we set by hand with a (very heavy) mallet.
7. Then, the tote gets turned right-side out
Ever wondered why you sometimes see an "X"-shaped marking on the front of the totes in our photos? Each tote is sewn and riveted inside-out. Then it gets turned right-side out, and because most of our leathers have pull-up (the characteristic that makes the leather lighten in areas of wear or stress), that "X" shape emerges during the process of turning the tote right-side out. It fades quickly once you start carrying the tote – and it begins to show a wear pattern that's unique to you.
8. Meanwhile, the pocket and sunglasses strap get hand-finished
While the body of the tote is at the riveting station, the matching pocket gets hand-finished. At the same point in the process, we also prepare a small keeper, or strap, that will go in the interior of the tote to hold your keys or sunglasses.
9. Once all the pieces are ready, we can start work on the handles
Now that the tote is ready to go -- with stitching and rivets in place, and a matching pocket and keeper all prepared -- we start work on the handles. We double-check to make sure that we cut the right handles for each bag.
10. The handles get hand-cut from belting-weight leather
We make the handles out of 10-ounce belting leather, which breaks in and softens with use. They get cut by hand to the precise measurement for the drop length you selected. Then, we carefully punch holes to rivet the handles to the tote.
11. Each set of handles gets matched to a tote
Because KMM & Co. totes are always made to order, the handles are cut to match the drop length selected by the customer. Once the handles are cut and the totes prepared, the handles get matched up to the correct tote.
12. We hand-set the final rivets
The tote goes back to the riveting station, where we hand-set the tote’s handle, pocket, and interior strap with more copper rivets.
13. Your leather tag gets embossed
Now that your tote is finished, the final step is to personalize the leather tag that matches your bag. Your initials, nickname, favorite emoji, or mantra -- whatever you want on your tag, we'll emboss it by hand!
14. Matching accessories get made next
The tote is finished! But depending on the details of the order, our team may be just getting started. If you order matching accessories for your bag, we'll make sure to cut them out of a piece of leather that will coordinate well with the tote. All accessories are handmade and made to order, just like our tote bags.
15. We pack it all up and send it on its way to you
The final stop for your tote (and any accessories!) is the shipping station, where we pack everything up for shipping. Next up? The post office! Every shipment goes to the post office the same day or the next morning after the label is printed. The USPS takes it from there, and delivers your tote right to your door.
While it's a long process to make a tote, it's an even longer process to break it in and make it yours. Your tote will show where it’s been with wear and patina, which makes it a true one-of-a-kind.