I have been doing Product Design and Development for quite some time now. With my experience, I have dealt with a number of Manufacturers everywhere in the Metro to nearby provinces. I can easily tell if the bag was manufactured in either of the two known bag manufacturing places we have in the Philippines, Marikina and Bulacan. They definitely have different styles and outputs in bag making.
Bulacan manufacturers are more into direct-sewing. Their process is fast and easy. They have an impressive sewing skills that they can manufacture 10,000 pcs of bags in 30 days. It is the definite choice if you have a simple design and needs it in bulk at the littlest production time possible.
On the other hand, Marikina manufacturers have a more complicated and intricate way of constructing a bag. Their expertise in shoe making reflects well on how they do bags. If you are looking for quality and luxury, Marikina is definitely the way to go. The bags are carefully constructed through a process they call "dikit" (glued). Basically, you'll have the full elements of a bag constructed using adhesive glue. When all parts and pieces are securely glued together, that is the only time they will sew it to perfection. It gives a more structured, seamless and fine finish. It may take a little more time though, but you are sure of the craftsmanship and quality on a given bag.
Whether you choose Bulacan or Marikina manufacturers, both offer their advantages and disadvantages. They have their own respective strengths and weaknesses. As for my bag, I have to choose Marikina for its design and aesthetic requirements.
Dealing with manufacturers can be a bit stressful, but once you're able to find the right fit who can execute it well, you never let go. The bag designing and developing is never easy. At least, that's what I've learned from being a freshman in the industry. Many sewers came and go. That said, I came to acquire the skill of knowing how to pick the right one to do the job.
It is more rewarding to see the growth of small businesses as you make yours grow, too. I stick to sewers who are home-based rather than the big ones. The bigger they get, the bigger their ego becomes; and you end up pleasing them just so they can accept a job from you. For me, it has been an advocacy to help the less fortunate, skilled workers than those who are playing it big already. As long as they are happy to do it, I'd prefer to help them, too. It gives me a more rewarding feeling to know I am able to help them by giving jobs and opportunities. In my own little way, I help them as much as they help me. For whatever it is worth, part of my vision is to help create jobs for my country men rather than having my designs manufactured elsewhere around the globe. It always makes me proud to say that my bags are Philippine made.