I am a leather products manufacturer and designing products is part of my job scope. In these past few months into my business, I have an idea, albeit a raw one, on what it means for something to be designer.
It is a fine line; art and thrash; designer and thrash.
I always found it difficult to exchange 50 dollars for a t-shirt, under the pretext that it is designer. Tees are easily produced. Draw and print. If you fail, draw and print again till something sells. Anyone can do that. To claim the label of being designer in the name of such art and hence charge a premium is a little too spurious.
Where I am coming from: There are limitations to what I can manufacture. My splitting machine splits my leather, 3.5mm thick, into thinner sheets provided it is small enough. Therefore, I can make belts but not the bigger laptop sleeve. Purchasing leather that is 2mm thick is a solution but that hardly makes me a designer, nor my products designer.
There are reasons why mature/vintage brands, boasting 50 years’ up of business or perhaps 100 years, are where they are. Consider their early stages of development, set in poor technological conditions. Yet their products are aesthetically desirable too. Good designs concern both aesthetics and overcoming existing manufacturing difficulties. It is a fact back then, and it remains a truth at present.