Have luxury handbags become disposable ? It is quite easy to sell a luxury bag these days and I see lots of them on the second hand market. I sold a few, two years ago. There is a new IT bag every season which ends up in great numbers on the second hand market the subsequent year. The crowd has moved on to its next IT bag. I like the idea of saving to buy a bag and to use it for the next 20 years. Its too easy to fall prey to the runway cycles, street style stars and the product placement on instagram. I want to come up with rules for myself.

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RULE ONE :

BUY HIGH QUALITY LEATHER BAGS.

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The best of makers procure the best hides. Hermes bids on leather and makes bags based on the shape and kind of the hide, not the other way around. Good leather ages well. My Stella McCartney vegan leather seems to look dirty as it ages. All of my leather bags look better today than when I purchased them. While Campomaggi bags are my best purchases, a surprising fore runner is a black &OtherStories bag that I use as a clutch every day. It was very affordable and I don’t baby it. After 2 years, it looks great. The stitches are even and intact. The leather is supple and it has no dry spots. It has a lot more years left in it. It doesn’t look luxurious but that is fine. Quality is non negotiable. I cant be replacing bags every few years.

PROS : Durability, Craftsmanship, Avoid the ugliness of plastic, Ages beautifully, … Lab grown leather is almost here.

CONS : Leather is cruel.

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RULE TWO :

USE THE BAG FOR A DECADE OR TWO (AT-LEAST ).

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I had to change my attitude towards “worn in”. ( Its different from worn out. )  New perfectly pristine bags look too pretentious. Bags epitomize the spirit of travel. And travel leaves a mark. When a bag gets scratched, scuffed,  repaired, …. it earns its medals of honour. This sentiment is not to be confused with low quality – those dry up, crack, deform and sag. My oldest bag is 7 years old and is my favorite bag.

PROS : If I am killing an animal for its skin, I shouldn’t treat it as disposable.

CONS : I won’t be fashionable or on trend which is a compliment actually.

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RULE THREE : 

DO NOT BUY FOR THE RESALE VALUE. BUY FOR USE.

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At this point, I am tired of the buy and cull cycle. I rather not buy if I am unsure of its worth/quality. I rather use whatever I buy than view things as investments. This is one reason I haven’t bought the Hermes Kelly, a design that I admire. If I get it, I will treat it like one treats crystal. Its too expensive to treat it as a sac. It would be a good investment to buy a Kelly and take care of it. But it’s not for me.

PROS : Life doesn’t revolve around things. They serve me, not the other way around.

CONS: I have to stay away from the Kelly. I will be missing out on the “investment”.

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RULE FOUR :

NO TO LUXURY. YES TO QUALITY.

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Chanel bags are 3000$+. Are they that much better in quality than my campomaggi bag ? Mine has sat on the sands by the beach, was carried through a forest on hikes, gotten more street action than the street style posers, and is in great condition after seven years. I like  the fact that this sort of quality can be purchased without spending four figures. If I purchased an Hermes bag, I would always know that I spend the money on luxury : for the brand affiliation, for its ads, for the name, for the heritage, for the not so simple lifestyle, ….

PROS : I save money. I am working towards living more simply and not being enamoured by luxury.

CONS : Kelly < sigh >. I will have to resist all the bags made by fashion houses.

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RULE FIVE :

STAY AWAY FROM RECOGNIZABLE BAGS.

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I like discrete. I like that people cant identify what I am wearing. This is important to me. Everytime I see another girl with that Chloe frye bag/Gucci Dyonisis bag, I roll my eyes. And I will go the other extreme and say, I want to be that girl who walks in and people want to know what I am wearing. When it happens to me, it makes me happy. To me, the words “your Chanel bag is beautiful” is equivalent to saying “good job coughing up the money”. If you see logos as print all over the bag or as big blingy hardware, walk away !

PROS : Less chances of being a fashion victim. Less chance to make mistakes because you are caught up with the hype. You don’t have that fashion blogger look. They all look the same.

CONS : When the makers/craftsmen become popular, their goods become recognizable. Then what ?

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RULE EIGHT :

REDEFINE CLASSIC.

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Classics, they say is a Chanel or an Hermes. That does mean much to me beyond brand name brain washing. A classic is a shape and design. Not a brand. To me, its a satchel, a briefcase and a clutch. These shapes are versatile and timeless. I stay away from square, bucket, circular and moon bags.

PROS : You are independant of the brands.

CONS : Re-sale value of these two brands is so good that its actually profitable to own one.

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RULE NINE :

BAGS ARE TO BE USED. REALLY USED.

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“my Hermes needs its own airline seat and goes to the spa more often than me”

I know that if I get an Hermes Kelly, I would treat it like it’s made of glass. Its just too expensive not to. So I stick to bags that I can use. Buy ones that I won’t cry about, if they get scratched up. This does not mean that I don’t take care of them. Because I do. But they are containers to hold things that need to go on the road with you. Not status symbols. But to be treated as luggage.

PROS : More mobility with less worry about things.

CONS : No Kelly for me.

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RULE TEN :

DON’T EXPECT A HANDBAG TO MAKE AN OUTFIT.

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Unless you are a fashion blogger constantly posing on the street in orchestrated outfits … Most of us put our handbags down and go about our day once we get to a destination. Some of us may pose with it when we see full length mirrors or take pictures with them next to our breakfasts, but we put them down. At a workplace, we don’t walk around with a bag. At home, we don’t walk around with a bag. I was buying colorful bags to make my neutral outfits interesting. An outfit needs to be complete without a bag. Somewhere along the way, we saw bloggers pose with bags. We elevated them from a sac that is to be carried temporarily, to full time accessories. An expensive bag doesn’t save a shitty/boring outfit.

PROS : You put effort into every item you wear. No sweatshop clothes paired with Chanel bags which is a pet peeve of mine.

CONS : The marketing guys for luxury houses who make sales from accessories need to find other tricks to sell.

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RULE ELEVEN :

PROPORTIONS, PROPORTIONS, PROPORTIONS

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The bag should be proportional to the size of the person wearing it. This is a design principle that I apply to dressing. An overweight person with a tiny bag looks bigger. And a petite person with a large oversized bag looks hobo-ish. I try to avoid bags that are too tiny in comparison that look ridiculous on my frame. And the big rucksacks that I have a tendency to like, I do resist.

PROS : You train your eye to edit better.

CONS : Breaks the “wear what you like” principle.

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RULE TWELVE :

RETHINK “COLLECTION”

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 A decade ago, I wanted a collection. I wanted colorful bags and lots of shapes. Not anymore. I have become wary of the idea. The larger the collection, more the indication of lack of restraint on the person. A well curated tiny selection is something I admire.

PROS : Kill less animals, waste less, spend less, live lighter, call yourself curator, …

CONS : Lack of variety ?

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These are my rules for myself. Please don’t think I am preaching or criticizing anyone reading for their choices. Personal style over all else, is my motto. But I do admire the ones who don’t fit my rules too. I do gasp in delight every time I see an Hermes Kelly.  I know that the Chanel and Hermes bags retain their value in price over the years and are better investments than land or gold. I will stay away for now. I find the trendy Chloe Fayes of world beautiful too, but they are not for me. I do enjoy seeing them on Pinterest. That is where they should stay, given my lifestyle.

 

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Image Sources : Pinterest boards – 1, 2 & 3