A Confession. I was brainwashed into thinking bags are worth spending thousands of dollars on. And are “investments”. They ‘make’ outfits. And “you get what you pay for”. After lots of expensive mistakes, I realized that I was a victim of the marketing. You pay for luxury way more than you do for quality in most cases. I let go of some of my expensive handbags. And embraced the functional. So, a few notes :

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ANIMAL CRUELTY :

Apparently, alligators are pumped with water hose pipes to bloat them up so that it’s easier to skin them. Exotic leathers have a story, most of them sad. I haven’t gotten around to giving up leather. Cow leather that is a by product of the meat industry is a an option. But there are very few makers of such products. The more I think about the origin of products, the more I can resist buying another bag.

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TANNING METHODS :

Everyone who argues leather is friendlier to the earth, think again. Stella McCartney’s plastic handbags can be recycled. PVC handbags – avoid at all costs. But the waste dumped from tanneries can be very toxic polluting the ecosystem. Vegetable tanned leather is a great option and more designers are catching up on the idea.

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NEUTRALS :

My red bag does not get a lot of wear. Sometimes, I consider selling it and haven’t gotten around to deciding if I want to.  Seen some amazing colored bags : Rag and Bone’s army greenpink bags by Mansur Gavriel & burgundy Hermes Kelly. I have a khaki green camera backpack that I wear when I bike with my laptop. It bothers me, when more than one color has troubled coexistence in an outfit. I think I am a brown bag girl. Dear future me, stay away from color bags, because they are not versatile enough. Actually, stay away from buying any more bags. I have enough.

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SHAPE :

Bucket bags are very impractical when it comes to fetching stuff out . Totes are bad for the shoulders. A cross body satchel – my most used shape. A clutch – sometimes. An evening bag – for dancing. A structured bag – love them all. A backpack – love hate them but can’t get away without one.

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HARDWARE :

Lesser the hardware, the better. Period. No frills or tassels. Glittery stuff. Gemstones. Studs. Clips. Fringes. Logos. No to quilted patterns.Or monogram prints.

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BRANDS :

Clothing designers churn out “IT” bags and perfumes to generate volume sales (to please the stock holders). There are exceptions to this of course (Hermes). Handstitched leather goods by smaller artesians is another route. My favourite maker is Marco’s bags for the label Campomaggi. He is not a clothing designer but a bag maker specializing in distressed leather goods.

 


Finally, bags are NOT to be purchased as a status symbol / a label / a seasonal token, but should be functional with good proportions + quality. Apparently, women in America own 6 bags on an average. I am quite embarrassed to say, I own more than the average, all the while writing blog posts on simplifying my life. Here are my seven :

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1. THE MOST USED BAG : Langly Camera Bag in Khaki.

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This bag is perfection. Its a camera bag with an adjustable padded compartments for a DSLR and lenses. I use this bag for school with the camera compartment holding my lunch. It is isolated compartments prevents rest of my things from smelling of food. The green goes almost with every color i wear. ( Not with purple and red ). It has a laptop compartment that i use to store my hydration pack when I go hiking. Its details are perfection.

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2. THE FORMAL BRIEF CASE : Emerson Fry

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I use this on my teaching days. And for professional meetings, seminars and conferences. I teach undergrads at university and try to look the part. I have been asked “How old are you really ?”, “Are you really married?” and similar questions. Dressing the part helps. I considered Mulberry Bayswater and many Zara briefcases. But nothing fit all the food I carry to work. Or the papers/books I need to carry to the classroom. This one is huge, rather chic for a professor bag and is of good quality. It slouches which bothered me for a while, but I really appreciate how functional it is.

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3. THE SPLASH OF COLOR : Stella Mccartney

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Red bags are beautiful. I got this one last year. Been trying to live gentler and thought pleather was the way to do it. Stella makes ethically sourced products and I really admire her. But this one is not as elegant as my other bags in spite of the price. This is my go to bag when I go dancing. And I have been making an effort to use it as a day bag to get more wear per cost out of it.

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4. THE CARRY ALL : Campomaggi tote

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This is the least used bag in my collection. It was a purchase driven by the heart, with my head shut off. It’s a beautiful brown tote that I try not to use too much. I tend to dump everything I might need if I have a big bag which is unhealthy stress on the shoulder. It can house my big DSLR. It has an option to take the crossbody strap out to convert it into a tote. I seem to save it for the hay days when I will need a big bag.

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5. THE ONE : Campomaggi satchel

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Perfect size. Perfect color. Perfect weight. No fuss. Blends into all the outfits I seem to wear. Bike friendly. Distressed leather. So I don’t have to worry about baby-ing my bag. Scratches and defects only add to the character of it. A very utilitarian brown bag.

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6. THE BEIGE BAG :  Artemis Leather

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This is my favourite winter bag. Wearing all grey or black outfits warrants a splash of color. I like what this beige/blush bag does to a rather grey outfit. This is my only structured bag and made of vegetable tanned leather made from byproduct of beef industry. I have been having trouble keeping it clean and it needs to be taken care of. But it’s my current favourite.

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7. THE CLUTCH : &OtherStories

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Clutches take work. They require the appropriate lifestyle or occasion. But I love the idea of it. This one has been getting a lot of wear, be it to grocery stores or night outs. It is a convertible clutch bag with a built in wallet. I like the texture. Adds to monochrome or monotone outfits.


ALLEGED FACTS :

1. Its a pet peeve of mine when women don’t carry bags and make other women/men carry their stuff. I am usually a victim.

2. I read in a book on fashion history, that non-working class women never carried bags. The ‘not having to pay for it themselves’, was the ultimate class symbol. Later on, women started making their own money and didn’t have to live off their men. Upper class women started working and carrying a bag was a symbol of independence.

3. Man bags are cool. I don’t see why they need to stuff their wallets and phones into trouser pockets.

4. I have loved Proenza Schouler’s PS1 for years. I bought one, was so disappointed with its quality, that I sold it off right away.

5. To downsize, I sold two Rag and Bone pilot bags. I also sold a Campomaggi bag. It had studs and it needed to go. My sister inherited a fringe bag of mine from my bohemian days. I don’t miss them at all.

6. I saw the most imperfectly imperfect burgundy Hermes Kelly on Vestiaire Collective on my birthday and was upset I couldn’t afford it. My husband offered to buy it for me and I outgrew it in no time. I do not want another bag.

7. I don’t like Celine trio’s shape. I like the shape of Celine box bag. I don’t like Michael Kors and swear to never buy anything he makes from all the stolen designs. But his range for his Collections are gorgeous.

8. I need to let go of a few more bags. Cant seem to do it, as of today.

9. Handbag collection posts are my guilty pleasure. Hence this post. I dont like the ones with dozens of them, beyond their entertainment factor. But the collections with a few old, well used and well loved ones – yes please !