Co.Design

Watch A Designer Teach Pirates How To Knock Off His Luxury Bags

And in doing so, prove that you can never counterfeit quality.

What do you do when pirates continually knock off your company's luxury bag designs? If you're Saddleback Leather, you hit YouTube and turn the design piracy of your "competitors" into a marketing tool that teaches consumers what they're giving up when they buy off-brand.

Saddleback Leather's eccentric and charismatic CEO is Dave Munson, an outspoken guy with a good sense of humor who got into leather bag design after being nearly mauled to death as a gringo bullfighter in Mexico. Saddleback Leather prides itself on a no-compromise approach to bag design, and Munson's personal mission is to make heirloom-quality bags, wallets, cases, belts, and more that your children will inherit. For Munson, only the highest quality leather, materials, and construction will do. The result is Saddleback Leather's products can be expensive, and so the company has become the target of knock offs.

Munson has responded by releasing a 12-minute video that walks pirates step-by-step through the process of counterfeiting one of Saddleback Leather's bags, pointing out the various ways one might save money recreating his designs. Turns out, this is a clever promotional tool for his company, because--surprise!--the only way to save money on a knock-off is to eliminate the quality that makes the product worth buying in the first place.

To start, Munson catalogs the plethora of inferior leather and vinyl products that you can use in the bag, deftly explaining the failures of each cheap material. He then points out that wasted material is a big expense when constructing a luxury leather bag, and while Saddleback Leather's popular briefcase is made of just 52 different pieces of leather, any knock-off artist is going to want to use much smaller pieces to construct his bag, to eliminate waste: the smaller the pieces you use, the less you need to redo if you mess a single piece up.

But with smaller pieces composing the bag, you get lots of potential weak spots. A high-quality bag is double stitched together with a continuous filament polyester thread to keep the stitching strong, but Munson says a design pirate won't want to bother with that: just use cotton thread, which is half the cost. In fact, why even stitch it, when you can just use rivets everywhere to staple the bag together? And don't bother with structural support like polyester straps sewn through the bag's belts and straps so that the leather doesn't stretch. Who even cares if your knockoff bag falls apart in a few years? Design pirates have no brand to protect: the only thing that matters is if it looks good on store shelves.

At the end of the video, Munson calls the design pirates who make up the video's design audience grave robbers and wife beaters. They're probably not that bad, but Saddleback's video is still a reminder that you get what you pay for.

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45 Comments

  • Zip Stevenson

    I love this guy!! I would have personally notched it back say 15-20%, but it is an extremely bad ass video!

  • Tommy Hood

    I'm obviously against knock-offs and pirating, but to have that in the video took me out of the moment instantly.

  • when you buy a brand like Saddleback, what you are really buying is that brand's promise/guarantee to a certain level of quality: from design to durability, from warranty to return policy, and etc & etc.

    so it becomes ironic to buy a knock-off product because the qualities that attracted you to the brand just got thrown out the window during production.

    if you don't believe in the value that a specific brand brings to the table (which i think is absolutely your right - everyone needs to decide for themselves what they value in a product) OR you can't afford it (which no one should be faulted for), then i think your money is better spent on another/any product that at least doesn't charge a premium for being a knock-off.

  • That was a pretty entertaining video. It makes me recall the time when i walked into a shoe repair store and the owner was gushing over my squared backpack. He immediately said "that's at least $200.00 worth of leather in that bag." I then told him how much it cost and he was in disbelief. I should of taken a picture of his expression. So, for all who say this bag is too expensive, I say: "Enjoy your Saddleback knock-off."

  • Got one of this for a Graduation/Christmas present 2 years ago. Was the best thing I've ever had. It goes with me everywhere, and the scuffs only make it look better. Is it expensive? maybe. Depends on how you look at it. Someone once told me, "Spend once, cry once". Think about that.

    I'll by any of their other products, and look forward to the day I can give my future son a bag of his own, and my bag to his son.

  • David G. Pope

    Saddleback Leather makes the best leather products on the market. You are buying quality leather that will last a very long time. I like to think of my leather as an investment. With a 100 year warranty, their leather holds its value. If you like cheap leather products then Saddleback leather isn't the place to go. Very High Quality!

  • Erizabird Limp

    But if there is no distribution to other retailers, then isn't the price isn't more expensive than it should be?

    lol

  • Benjamin Yap

    He does seem a lot more upset about piracy than taking pride in showing how beautifully crafted Saddlebacks are. I would've preferred a more positive message about how each Saddleback is made, the thoughts and inspirations that go into their design, function and craftsmanship. A great video nonetheless.

  • "There's always that guy in the comments section who will call it overpriced no matter what."

    Sure, over $500 is a lot, but if you /never/ have to replace it, it's a worthy investment. Don't forget, quality leather only looks better with age.

  • 568.00 – $664.00 for some leather bag? i understand the concept of luxury but why is he bitching? the manufacturing for him is around 100-200$ so he makes a shit ton of money, what i saw in that video was some rich snob bitching(indirectly) about imaginary lost sales to piracy (as he said its all about the money) and so he actually spend money for anti piracy propaganda to in hopes of increasing his sales. but guess what wrong targeted audience the lower financial class is not going to buy a 568.00 – $664.00 bag but they will a 50-150$ one so yeah. also here is another food for thought http://youtu.be/dWhf42Hdeq0

  • David G. Pope

    You get what you pay for in this business. Saddleback Leather is a company out of San Antonio, TX. Let us know how it goes when you need something fixed and you have to ship your bag back to China. There is a group on Facebook where people trade and sell used SBL leather. If you can't afford a new bag, maybe you can buy a used one. Fair warning though... the used bags hold their value so you may get a used for 30-40% off a new bag price. :)

  • Your commentary is amusing proof that you completely and utterly missed the point of this video. You would be well served to invest in some "Life Comprehension" classes. You will find them labeled Introductory, 101, 202, etc. You will want the one before Introductory. They don't list it so you have to ask for it.

  • Ian Steele

    you're a fucking moron. Spend 60$ on an electric razor of quality and have it last 10 years, or buy a 19.99$ razor every year for the next ten years. Welcome to quality versus instant gratification.

    Spending 500$ on quality leather items is an investment in your future. IF the item you're buying actually serves purpose, you won't have to replace it for 20 to 100 years. But our generation is obsessed with shopping, so theres no hope for people like you anyways. You'd want to buy another one next year just to say it was new, even if you didn't need it.