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Bloggers review the It-bag of the moment: the Michael Kors Selma handbag
July 21, 2014 10:17 PM   Subscribe

Michael Kors has been causing a bit of a sensation in the fashion world recently, as the popularity of the designer's handbags, and in particular, one handbag—called "the Selma"—threatens to dethrone Coach as the luxury brand to buy (some say it already has). The Guardian notes that in the Kors line of handbags, "The details are right: the gold studs on the base, a practical touch so that you can rest the bag on the floor; a printed silk lining; a phone pocket. But the most important detail is very, very simple: the magic £300 price tag." Obsessions and the internet go hand in hand, so here are some of the best reviews of Selma handbags from bloggers who want to share their knowledge with other handbag enthusiasts.

"Fast Food + Fast Fashion", Review: MICHAEL by Michael Kors Selma Large East West Satchel:
At $358, it is priced strategically on the cusp of within-grasp and out-of-reach for the average consumer. With a 15%-25% off discount (the typical discount for friends & family sales or a first-time email subscriber bonus), the price of the bag falls below $300, making it a luxury good crafted for modest budgets.

The Selma comes in four sizes/shapes at this time (small, medium, E/W large, and N/S large) and a dozen colors (classic tan,black, navy, gray, white, luggage, and red as well as brights like tangelo orange, red, neon yellow, and hot pink; two-tone neon/black, highlighter pink/black, and black/white; metallic colors like gold).

The bag is easy to love. The shape is "classic" in that it is timeless but unassuming. The functional details like a detachable adjustable long strap, trapezoidal body, handheld straps which fold down, metal feet, and a sturdy top zipper make this bag appropriate for different lifestyles.
"Fast Food + Fast Fashion" also compared three sizes of different-colored Selmas. Again, she notes she likes this bag for its "relative affordability and a pragmatic yet aesthetically pleasing design."

"BlushCrush" in the United Kingdom loves the handbag but has some criticism:
The leather, is admittedly not incredible &endash don't get me wrong, it's rigid and stiff, which is necessary if the bag is to retain its shape and structure; but it does mean that over time the leather is more likely to scratch, rather than soften up and become almost buttery like Mulberry's offerings. Alas, it also does not have the distinct new leather smell that sends me weak at the knees – yes, yes, I know I have problems!

Jokes aside, I appreciate that this bag needs to have a thicker, stiffer leather in order for it to work, so I really can't criticise it.
"what jen made" documents how her Vanilla-colored Selma handbag held up under daily use:
After only several months of everyday use, the d-ring attachment at the front of the bag started to tear. In a weak attempt to prevent it from getting worse, I tried to carry it by hand for a few days, ending up with the aforementioned shoulder pains. I should have listened to my gut instincts when I first saw how the shoulder straps were attached. The way the attachments were positioned at front left and back right, and how the leather loop was attached through a cutout with only stitching, are not able to provide balanced or sufficient weight distribution.

When I went in store to ask about the one year warranty, I was told it did not cover wear and tear, and that I was carrying too heavy a load in my bag. Essentially, they were saying it was my fault. After laying out all my bag contents, I still feel that everything I carry are essential items in a modern woman's life. Shouldn't Michael Kors' designers have taken this weight load into account when designing this type of bag? I'm on the fence about future purchases from Michael Kors. On the one hand, I like the quality and affordable price point they offer, on the other hand, this experience.
Lastly, "Soshified Styling Review" gives the Selma points for quality, size, and design, but mentions a few snags:
Though I'd love it if this article is all good points about the bag but it won't be a review without a few setbacks, but trust me, they’re not deal-breakers.

A minor issue I have with the bag is the squeaking of the top handles when in use. I'm not sure if it's just my bag or the friction between the leathers but it's not something to worry about. Another is that the wings leave small openings on the sides since the zipper doesn't cover the whole top of the bag. Just saying, if you're paranoid with the security of your belongings; though the gap is small enough that people won't be able to reach into your bag.

My verdict: this bag is a must-have for both bag collectors and people who are in the market for a practical and trendy bag. Winged bags are still flying high and above and it won't go anywhere anytime soon. So if you're looking for a winged bag that could bring you to seventh heaven, consider buying the Selma satchel!
Bonus link: "Fast Food + Fast Fashion", Review: Coach City Tote vs. MICHAEL by Michael Kors Saffiano Medium Travel Tote
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (451 comments total) 76 users marked this as a favorite

 
I really like this post, but that bag is like the definition of basic.

I would also argue that neither Michael Kors nor Coach are truly luxury brands; they are middle class or "nice" brands. Wearing either is not "wrong" per se, but neither is daring, interesting, or groundbreaking. Just sufficient.

I can't even believe myself, because I so profoundly don't even believe in the fashion industry, yet here I am with a snap opinion of handbag brands. It's this semi-conscious class brainwashing that is always speaking at the back of my brain, you know? Bizarre.
posted by blnkfrnk at 10:28 PM on July 21 [53 favorites]


I wouldn't consider Coach or Kors luxury at all. They're kind of overpriced middle-ground bags that are not well made if you really inspect them, barely even worth what's being touted as a "low" price point. The Kors bag just looks like yet another cheap copy of the Celine bag I got 4 years ago when it was the It bag of the moment.
posted by raw sugar at 10:30 PM on July 21 [7 favorites]


I feel like I shouldn't hate on the bag that much; what's more interesting is that there are people who are deeply interested in handbag reviews that have specs and speculation. That part makes me happy, that there's a niche for everyone. Even if that niche is intensely specific handbag review blogs.
posted by blnkfrnk at 10:35 PM on July 21 [5 favorites]


When I was in grad school everyone's stipend worked out to about $1800 per month before taxes -- enough to live off of, but not enough for a lot of luxuries. Very quickly you got good at spotting who was living 100 percent off of their stipend, and who had a trust fund or other outside support.

My friend who walked in to the shared office one day to display her second brand new $600 purse that month?

Not living off of her stipend.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:38 PM on July 21 [15 favorites]


Love me my Kors men's dress shirts. Great color, great collar, great cut.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:42 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


Oh my GOODNESS the displays of wealth that are handbags. It's really hard to listen to complaints about the price of stuff I sell when it's coming from someone holding this season's Hermes. Then again, I guess that's how you save up for a Hermes bag!

Do people who buy luxury brands (or brands they perceive as luxurious) feel like they're getting great quality, or is it just showing off wealth, or is it about fashion, or what? All of the above?
posted by blnkfrnk at 10:43 PM on July 21 [7 favorites]


Bleah. Used to be, you bought Coach bags because they were well-made and would last for years, not because they were trendy. Coach made the staid, uncool bags my mom carried. My mom went into a Coach store about ten years ago looking for the same style of bag she'd owned for years, and the salesperson actually told her "oh, right, the boring old-lady stuff, we only carry that online now."

I remember seeing this chart on MeFi a while ago - note how Coach is all the way to the right, nearing "company shell" status.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:48 PM on July 21 [46 favorites]


I covet a Coach bag because it sort of says "I read Real Simple as my relaxing magazine, not aspirational" in being classically-dull and medium expensive basics. It's what I imagine Martha Stewarts uses where I have a $20 Cath Kidston knock-off tote for. I should bite the bullet and rent a Coach bag from one of those services and see that it won't make me happier (a female relative I love/hate has Coach bags as a reward for bad actions and so Coach is toxic catnip to me)

But what's super interesting to me is that the market for used designer bags is pretty strong relative to the cost. If you had $5K to spend, you would be smarter to put it into a bag than jewellery. A bag you can use productively and signal status, and knock-off great costume jewellery is a lot harder to spot than a knock-off bag. Cheap clothes + expensive bag conveys status better than the reverse.
posted by viggorlijah at 10:54 PM on July 21 [6 favorites]


This is great - something that I would have zero knowledge of, and no interest in, has now fascinated me because of a well-crafted post and some intelligent comments. Thanks!
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:54 PM on July 21 [32 favorites]


I had a dear friend who was a Coach manager for years and passed on his discount to me..... I LOVE my Coach collection, they are classic, VERY well made......I have some higher end bags but usually reach for a Coach. Love them...
posted by pearlybob at 11:00 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Luxury goods are a fascinating industry. There's an element of "well-made rugged design" that eventually turns into something perceived as a luxury good -- you see this in e.g. Rolex. Rolex originally made expensive workman watches, and then in the late 70s and 80s embraced that high quality reputation to start making silly gold and diamond watches. The same goes for German luxury cars. Many of them were renowned for durability rather than luxury, and eventually transformed themselves.

I'm not surprised that the same applies to Coach.
posted by Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra at 11:10 PM on July 21 [11 favorites]


Yeah these are not luxury brands. Coach has been kinda tacky for a while now, unless you have one of the beautiful vintage 70s ones made from that gorgeous leather you can't even get anymore. Michael Kors is the epitome of My First Real Job accessories. I love his shoes so I'm not hating but they're not made of nice materials or anything special. The straps appear to not be leather in that photo.

Bottega Veneta or Hermes still sell bags hand make by artisans out of truly beautiful materials that you will hand down to your kids. Coach hasn't done that for a long time.

Not that I'd ever spend that much on a bag!
posted by fshgrl at 11:13 PM on July 21 [14 favorites]


Any bag that costs more than ....certainly $200? is a luxury good (i.e. a conspicuously expensive non-essential that outshines its typical product competition primarily on price and commanding that price), but this reminds me of the "upscale" white people names that end up being used by the poors (if I recall, typically white poor-to-middle-class folks) in a few generations. It happens with lots of brands, but as long as they command a high price, labeling them "not luxury" comes off as tacky and distancing to me. I wouldn't feel the same about the word "quality," this is simply my own reaction and I own it.

That there are more expensive options does not diminish what a luxury good is -- something that costs conspicuously far more than a "functional" or "durable" good, simply because it's intended to command a higher price as a status marker, and it does. It's not about quality at all, even if quality brands traditionally went into the luxury market. That is changing. Arguably a truly durable quality good that costs a lot of money but more than makes up for it (i.e. shoes that don't wear out in a year) moves away from the "luxury" category into "practical" or "high-quality."
posted by aydeejones at 11:22 PM on July 21 [12 favorites]


I also own that it was mean-spirited to say "the poors" as if putting those words in others' mouth. It's just my own reaction, and as an analogy I'll say that I consider both Bose and Beats Audio to be luxury brands that don't really justify their price points on quality alone. There are other more expensive headphone and audio choices out there that don't come across the same way.

Maybe I'm a little sensitive hangin' out in Orange County for the week moving in and out of the class hierarchy: working in Newport, staying in a semi-cheap hotel in Santa Ana that is half the cost of the Fairmont and so far a better experience, just stumbled into a sketchy gas station reeking of pot (the location, nothing wrong with that) and gettin' mean mugged and being like "hey, I'm cool guys, listen to my rap music", driving a rented Mercedes, but the cheap one! C250
posted by aydeejones at 11:29 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


This brings to mind Tommy Hilfiger. Boy did they ever go downscale quickly. I wouldn't be caught dead wearing anything from TH, and I often wear some truly cheap crap when I'm out and about.
posted by Yowser at 11:30 PM on July 21 [5 favorites]


You know, with this post and the previous one about bag checking, I'm becoming slowly fascinated by how handbags work and what they mean.
posted by Swandive at 11:39 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


I consider both Bose and Beats Audio to be luxury brands that don't really justify their price points on quality alone.

In fact, those are goods that are low quality and riding purely on their brand appeal (or, in Boses' case, "showroom wow" -- deliberately EQing the sound and cranking the volume so that it sounds appealing, despite being crappy speakers). Beats are outright crap. You can't get more vapid -- half the price gets you ten times the product.
posted by Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra at 11:49 PM on July 21 [4 favorites]


I once read a Vanity Fair piece about how Coach was the Hermes Bag of housekeepers. SLAP. God, Vanity Fair can be obnoxious. In a good way.
posted by helmutdog at 12:18 AM on July 22 [15 favorites]


I have been really impressed with the Michael Kors brand these past couple of years. They have done a phenomenal job for what is essentially middle of the road inoffensive safe "fashion" pawning itself off as somehow luxury. They are the ASOS of high fashion, in that they knock off high end designers with just enough difference (by watering down the design as far as I can tell) to be their own. Take the Selma, which as far as I can remember came out a little after the Celine trapeze bag burst onto the scene. You can't even buy Celine online. That's luxury.

I agree with the FPP, Michael Kors have totally nailed it with the pricing, not just with their bags but shoes and to a lesser degree their clothes as well. A couple of years ago I got sent a study that showed that Michael Kors was the number one fashion brand searched for in the world. I can see how it can be compared to Coach but that's a shame, Coach used to have real history and craft behind it.

Interestingly in London I find that the Selma is replacing the Mulberry Bayswater, which is at least twice as expensive and arguably of much higher quality.
posted by like_neon at 12:28 AM on July 22 [6 favorites]


Any bag that costs more than ....certainly $200? is a luxury good (i.e. a conspicuously expensive non-essential that outshines its typical product competition primarily on price and commanding that price),

A nice piece of leather that size dyed and sewed by people who make a living wage and have health care with good metal hardware is going cost at least that. Plus shipping, taxes etc. $200 for small leather goods is nowhere near luxury, that's what it costs. The Kors bags aren't particularly nice leather and I have no idea who makes them but $300 is not outrageous for a good quality, long lasting leather item of that size.
posted by fshgrl at 12:36 AM on July 22 [15 favorites]


$200 for small leather goods is nowhere near luxury, that's what it costs.

It's not like there's no way to carry around your stuff if you cannot put it in a bag made out of a nice piece of leather; there's plenty of less expensive and equally functional materials available these days, so yeah, it's a luxury good per definition. That's what the term means.
posted by effbot at 1:25 AM on July 22 [34 favorites]


I think "luxury" can mean different things. I mean yeah, a leather bag is a luxury because it doesn't have to be leather. But heck, then you may as well say having a bag at all is a luxury, why not use your pockets or not carry anything at all because that wallet is a luxury too.

I think fshgrl makes a valid point. $200 for a leather bag is not in the luxury category for the fashion market.
posted by like_neon at 1:40 AM on July 22 [7 favorites]


When you, like I, have a hard time justifying a $30 purse, a $200 purse is definitely a luxury good. I'm using a hand-me-down vinyl backpack and would love a real 'lady's' purse because even before reading this thread I was well aware of what a class signifier a bag is and I'd like my bag to not say 'total loser' which is how I am sure people look at what I carry. The sentiments expressed in this thread have done nothing to convince me that this is not the case.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 1:51 AM on July 22 [27 favorites]


A nice piece of leather that size dyed and sewed by people who make a living wage and have health care with good metal hardware is going cost at least that.

There are actually real definitions of what luxuries are in an economic sense, which is to say: when your income escalates, so do your purchases in that category. Your purchases of necessities stay flat because you only need so much either way. "A bag" is a necessity in the sense that even when you're broke, you're likely to buy one because you need to carry stuff. You don't buy lots of bags like that, generally, though, when you have more money. On the other hand, nice leather bags? Oh, well, if you had money to burn you might like a couple different colors. And the further up you go in the price/quality arena, the less you're buying it because you just need a bag to carry stuff in. This is not a bad thing.

By definition, if you have more money than you need to just barely survive, you're buying some luxury goods, but so is everybody else. I don't buy bags, I buy electronics. I can justify a phone as necessary, but my Nexus 5 is not, no matter how useful it is. But it is important not to conflate the two, because it can create unrealistic expectations for those who don't really have disposable income. In particular, sometimes people will give low-income women really unrealistic advice for how to get jobs in terms of expenditures on cosmetics, hair, clothing, bags, shoes, because they've come to see these things as the bare minimum standard of presentable.
posted by Sequence at 1:56 AM on July 22 [21 favorites]


Michael Kors is the epitome of My First Real Job accessories.

This is brutal, brilliant and accurate.

$200 for a leather bag is not in the luxury category for the fashion market.

Agreed. I'm a bit surprised that anyone thinks it is. You can't buy a leather handbag of any brand for under $250, at least not in Australia (which admittedly has very high prices for consumer goods in general). I've been looking around for a new leather bag lately, and that's the standard price, even in mid-range chain-stores.

Anyhow, I've never understood the fuss about Coach, Michael Kors, et al. The gold hardware just looks tacky, and I'm not a fan of structured designs or obvious logos anyway. Give me something slouchy and buttery and minimalist, with discreet/no branding, any day. But that's just me.

(And even though I think fashion blogging is mostly a big circle-jerk, with a healthy dose of emperor's-new-clothes thrown in, this was a cool FPP.)
posted by Salamander at 2:30 AM on July 22 [26 favorites]


"If you're a luxury brand with outlet stores, maybe you're not a luxury brand," mused Tim Hanson of Motley Fool Funds on a podcast Tuesday. "They took a growth-at-any-costs attitude that has done brand damage that they are paying for, but at the time that they were doing [it], it fielded stock price gains because it allowed them to put up very heady revenue numbers."

It's a problem all luxury brands face, especially public ones: How can you both sell enough on a quarterly basis to make Wall Street happy while at the same time maintaining the aura of exclusivity that got you where you were in the first place?


So.... Capitalism creates its own crises?
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:42 AM on July 22 [13 favorites]


$200 for a leather bag is not in the luxury category for the fashion market.

Even as a person who likes clothes and enjoys fashion, I feel that statements like this are pretty much baiting violent communist revolution.
posted by ominous_paws at 2:44 AM on July 22 [81 favorites]


$200 for a leather bag is not in the luxury category for the fashion market.

Even as a person who likes clothes and enjoys fashion, I feel that statements like this are pretty much baiting violent communist revolution.


As a person who works in the fringes of the fashion industry I'm surprised it hasn't happened already.

Check out the prices of the Must Have Bags. Must. Have. Must have! And Classics.

I feel very conflicted when I browse these pages. On the one hand, rage face. On the other hand, that Saint Laurent shoulder bag makes my tummy all gurgly with butterflies as I make a soft purring sound.
posted by like_neon at 2:58 AM on July 22 [12 favorites]


A snarky comment on twitter recently made me go check out the Selvedge denim market, and I feel like the sticker shock works the same way. If the product most people (in that market) buy is twice as expensive as the highest quality product in the market, something weird is going on, a kind of mini-Veblen-good has appeared.
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:41 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


We are all going to die, and sooner than we think. If you need a handbag in the meantime, you can probably find a cute one at Ross or the local vintage store. Save your cash for your retirement, or donate to the local cat rescue. You have no idea just how much those kitties need your cash. Or, you know... orphans. People with AIDS. Plenty of fine ways to spend your money, that don't involve blowing $358 on a fucking handbag.

Excuse me. I will die a drag queen, and I love silly clothes and makeup and stuff... but god damn.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:43 AM on July 22 [43 favorites]


If you had 5h:26m in the "How many hours until the first scold shows up" pool please bring your ticket to the counter.
posted by JPD at 3:55 AM on July 22 [49 favorites]


Also Michael Kors is a lovely man to neighborhood dogs but that doesn't change the fact that "my first real job accessories" made both my wife and I laugh in agreement.
posted by JPD at 3:59 AM on July 22 [5 favorites]


After only several months of everyday use, the d-ring attachment at the front of the bag started to tear. [...] On the one hand, I like the quality and affordable price point they offer, on the other hand, this experience.
The quality?

I like the shape but I don't like the label sitting out on the side. Also I am way too cheap for that.
posted by jeather at 4:03 AM on July 22 [5 favorites]


Is there a bag that transcends both class anxiety and economic constraints and is nonetheless 'cool' in the sense of being smart and eye-catching and contemporary and tasteful and well-designed and well-made?

Because a lot of this seems kind of anxiety-producing no matter how you cut it, as in either someone saying 'should I be spending over a thousand dollars on a handbag?' or someone saying 'does this $350 bag, which was a stretch for me to purchase, mark me as a status-hungry social climbing middle class drone?'

Surely there must be a way to skip that without buying fake leather crap at Target. (Fun fact: I got a wristlet at Target two years ago that is a brown cloth zippered number with a kind of crocheted-looking white outer shell, and I have gotten more compliments on it than any other accessory I can remember owning. The reason that thing is still hanging around though is that I'm careful with it and it isn't leather and it doesn't do heavy duty work. Plus I only use it in the summer.)

Also, I'm not super proud to admit how much this has made me want to buy a new handbag.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:17 AM on July 22 [12 favorites]


I have several of the old Coach bags I bought myself when I could first "afford" them, and they defined luxury for me, because I grew up in a place and an era when rich people bought things that were made of excellent materials, didn't show off much, and never wore out. When the company first changed hands, they started being made badly. And if you look closely at any of the truly luxury bags that sell for thousands of dollars (not Coach), they look cheap too. At least to me, because of the way my taste was developed.
posted by Peach at 4:20 AM on July 22 [11 favorites]


And I confess that now I buy Vera Bradley bags because in the patterns I can stand, the things are cheerful, sturdy, capacious, efficient, and long-wearing.
posted by Peach at 4:23 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


The Kors bags aren't particularly nice leather and I have no idea who makes them but $300 is not outrageous for a good quality, long lasting leather item of that size.

Kors makes some stylish things, no doubt, but I am not surprised by the quality issues.

If you're going to spend that kind of money on a bag, it's better to find a craftsperson to make one for you.
I have a hip/shoulder bag I bought several years ago for... about $250, I think? based on the thoughtful design and the beautiful leather. The guy who made it was able to tell me where the leather was sourced from, about the design and dyeing process, changed the buckle for me and everything.
After years of daily use, the leather has gotten more beautiful and the hardware is perfect - the only concern is a bit of wear where the strap goes through the buckle, but I have no doubt I could contact the maker for a replacement (and would be willing to pay for it.)

A bag like that is never expensive.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:24 AM on July 22 [19 favorites]


I suggest the tote be re-designed slightly to incorporate the British Virgin Islands flag as a pattern in the lining (that's where they pay taxes), and extra folds and pockets to hide tax money. http://wapo.st/1mzhHyf
posted by peterjoshua at 4:24 AM on July 22 [6 favorites]


Nina Garcia, what do you think?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:24 AM on July 22 [33 favorites]


"Those gold fittings and the white leather are really making me question Michael's taste levels."
posted by Flashman at 4:34 AM on July 22 [27 favorites]


My First Real Job accessories

This is such a wonderful dead-on description. When I was in my early twenties, I completely bought into the idea that grown-up accessories of the right brand and style were "investment pieces" and made me look "put together." The right brand and style were usually the same ones that every other yuppie-hopeful young woman owned, and they were always widely available brands that were priced high enough to feel prestigious, but not high enough to be out of reach as long as you watched your martini budget for a few months. Coach bags were the My First Real Job accessories of choice in the early/mid-'00s.

After five years, if your bag isn't hopelessly scuffed and scratched, you realize that nobody else is carrying it or anything like it. After ten years, fashions have completely changed: the jeans you were convinced were sexy and "classic" are the new mom jeans, and there's a completely different set of My First Real Job accessories on the new graduates. The brands and styles are totally different, but the quality and price points are the same.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:00 AM on July 22 [33 favorites]


Oh, it cracks me up the way fashion magazines refer to 'investment pieces'. As if you're doing something really long-term financially beneficial by plonking down your after-tax earnings on a fuchsia-and-faux-gold accessory that screams '2014', and which you will be sick of the sight of in a few years. (Max.)
posted by Salamander at 5:05 AM on July 22 [7 favorites]


So, has someone done the research to see if this bag is made in the same sweatshops as coach, et al?

Or maybe just the knock offs.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:12 AM on July 22


If you had 5h:26m in the "How many hours until the first scold shows up" pool please bring your ticket to the counter.

If you read the other comments, I'm not the first scold to show up. Ominous Paws, for instance, was giving good snark before I got here.

I am all for reasonable frivolity. But really, spending a lot of money on a freaking bag is a waste, in so many ways. If you can get over being a label zombie you can find probably something that looks just as good, for so much less. And hey, you don't have to spend the savings on practical things. Instead of buying just one overpriced, silly bag, you could buy a bunch of cheap, silly dresses!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:14 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


I just bought my first Really Expensive (to me) Handbag, a Kate Spade Grand Street Gabriel. It is beautiful, and I am in love with how pretty it is, and it holds so much of my crap like my Kindle and my DS and, if we're going to the mall, my fiance's DS, so we can both meet new people via StreetPass.

I never thought I would spend so much money on a bag. I used to work at a mid-level department store with a girl who collected the bigger name handbags -- someone would buy one for her for her birthday, or Christmas, or Just Because She Asked. And I was astounded, because at the time, one of those bags would have paid for almost an entire semester's worth of textbooks, and I just couldn't understand the appeal. Can't you find better things to do with that money? I mean, really.

Ten-ish years later, I spent close to $300 on a handbag and matching wallet. (Yay, 60% off sale!) I checked in with my mister before I made the purchase, just because I felt so outlandish. He reminded me that I'm an adult, and I can spend my money where I choose, even if it's on something that still seems so frivolous to me. But I've already sent money to Heifer International, and the local humane society, and for clean water in Haiti (Deep Springs International. It's run by my high school prom date, a really great guy.) and this bag has caught my eye and it's my favorite color and omg so much WANT.

I know it's probably not the world's most finely-crafted bag, and I don't know where the leather is from (or even if it's real leather). I am more aware than I probably should be of how much money I spent on it while I'm comparing unit prices on products in the grocery store. But I love this bag, and I am going to use it until it's falling apart, and sometimes, you just have to do what makes you happy, to do you, to hell with what other people think.
posted by alynnk at 5:14 AM on July 22 [18 favorites]


I don't understand handbags. I love fashion (though I rarely dress according to it) and I own more shoes than should be legally acceptable, but the bag thing just escapes me. I see the bags that people covet and drool over, and I genuinely can't see the aesthetic difference between them and the ones in the window of TJ Maxx. I get that the highest price point bags (the 1K-and-up ones now) will have hand-tooled leather and quality metal fittings, and I understand the tangible value in that over pleather and chromed plastic both aesthetically and from a durability perspective. But the difference between a bag that makes women drool and a bag most women would call fugly or tacky? I don't see it. They all - even the Kelly bag - look like fusty Mom bags to me. Or studded and colorful "Ver-sase" in Showgirls mall bags.

So I carry stuff in either a leather backpack (winter) or a tibetan-y woven tote bag (summer) or a ratty canvas tote (lazy or grocery shopping) and I know that the sort of people who judge you on your accessories probably look at me like I am a lost cause - and this really bothers me. But the anxiety over the status thing is real, and I would rather be judged as being clueless or hopeless than judged as being wrong. And I can't see spending that kind of money on something I don't adore (none of my shoes cost $300+ and I love some of them to death). The year I had my son and got to carry this must-have bag, I actually felt sort of powerful during my commute - it looked fashionable (for what it was), and it was certainly an "as seen on" accessory. They were fairly new then, so now I don't know if they're considered dowdy. But then? I was on top of my bag game.

This year I finally bit the bullet and bought myself a Coach bag that I mostly like the look of (on eBay for an insanely low amount, but it looks new). And so far it mostly sits in my closet - I've only used it once. I'm 40-mmphs years old, I shouldn't be carrying around a junky bag and I know it, and yet I would rather do that than "make a mistake." I'm afraid of purses. There, I said it.
posted by Mchelly at 5:19 AM on July 22 [13 favorites]


> And I confess that now I buy Vera Bradley bags because in the patterns I can stand, the things are cheerful, sturdy, capacious, efficient, and long-wearing.

That describes why I buy LeSportsac bags to use as my everyday bags these days. And they're cheap and fun.

I admit to having Coach bags but in the old classic styles, with no visible logo anywhere (I take the tags off). They're good for when the occasion requires a nondescript leather bag and not some nylon number with giant polka dots, and the Louis Vuitton Epi seems a bit of overkill.

> My First Real Job accessories

That's such an apt description, especially for the Michael Kors bags - they always struck me as young and cheap in appearance, never mind the price point. The giant logo was always a turnoff.
posted by needled at 5:23 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


i think it's strange that even though i don't really shop for high end bags or look at Vogue or anything, i knew almost exactly what bag they were talking about.

i had seen a very similar bag in macy's and was drawn to it - it was turquoise and white and this style and i was just like oooooohhhhh pretttyyy. and then i got up close and saw it kors and i thought oh wow i bet this is really nice and i went to touch it and i was like eew that feels cheap and then i figured maybe this was the low-end line, like how coach has the less expensive versions of stuff.

then i looked at the price tag $300+, i can't even remember because i didn't really register anything after seeing there were 3 digits and the first one was a 3. no way in hell i'd pay that much for that bag. i'll wait for it to show up at tjmaxx on clearance for $30. and probably not then either. it's just not a very nice bag to touch.
posted by sio42 at 5:26 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Does no one make a fancy non-leather bag? Something not made of animal that all the luxury spenders will want to show off?
posted by pracowity at 5:28 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


I just bought my first Really Expensive (to me) Handbag, a Kate Spade Grand Street Gabriel. It is beautiful, and I am in love with how pretty it is, and it holds so much of my crap like my Kindle and my DS and, if we're going to the mall, my fiance's DS, so we can both meet new people via StreetPass.

My wife has a Kate Spade bag that is the subject of one our Couple Stories, because she decided that it was too expensive, but I went back and bought it for her as a gift. It was a little expensive for us, but it's held up perfectly for a couple summer's worth of wear and it's pretty* and she likes that it's pretty and decently sturdy. If luxury goods make you happy, and you can buy them without breaking the bank, and still have money to use charitably, go for it. It's not like the $20 bag from Target wasn't made in a sweatshop anyway.

*This is where I confess that if her taste ran toward those drab brown Louis Vuitton bags festooned with numerous ugly logos I might not have been such a good husband.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:28 AM on July 22 [9 favorites]


as someone else said upthread, i too now want to shop for bags. sigh.
posted by sio42 at 5:29 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


> Does no one make a fancy non-leather bag? Something not made of animal that all the luxury spenders will want to show off?

Prada nylon bags were the rage some years ago (example). Not quite as hot and trendy these days, but they still make nylon bags for men.

There's also the Tod's G-line, some of which are coated canvas, and were the "It" bag some seasons ago.
posted by needled at 5:37 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


I don't understand handbags.
I think a lot of it is just pure conspicuous consumption. Bags are a really efficient way to broadcast that you know what's fashionable and can afford to buy it. Clothes are harder: you have to put in effort to put together outfits; you need to buy enough clothes to wear different outfits every day; plus, a lot of women can't fit into designer clothes or don't look good in what's fashionable on any given day. With shoes, you have to consider lifestyle factors like whether you need to be able to walk comfortably. Bags are way easier: you can carry the same one every day, and you don't have to worry about whether it fits you or flatters your body type. So they're great if you don't want to devote all you budget and free time to being fashionable but still want people to know that you are.

Anyway, I am deeply, profoundly grateful that I don't currently live in a place where anyone gives a flying fuck. And I carry a fabric tote that I picked up in a museum gift shop. I admire the craftsmanship involved in making really beautiful leather bags, but there's no way I could justify the expense.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:47 AM on July 22 [7 favorites]


effbot: "It's not like there's no way to carry around your stuff if you cannot put it in a bag made out of a nice piece of leather; there's plenty of less expensive and equally functional materials available these days, so yeah, it's a luxury good per definition. That's what the term means."

I am unusually hard on handbags, and after a while it dawned on me that instead of buying $25 purses at Target 4 times a year that wore out quickly and looked like crap, I could, actually, spring a couple hundred bucks for a purse that would last a lot longer and still look nice. (Also as it is not a RIGHT NOW purchase I can usually stalk the bag I want until there's a good sale.) My current purse cost me around $150 and is well into year 2 of service and hardly showing any wear, so I'm ahead on my old purchasing habits of cheap purses. I'm reluctant to spend that much on a purse since I am not fashiony and that is a lot of money, but I have finally accepted the reality that it costs me less in the long run, although it takes me a good three months to work myself up to spending that much money on a purse. It's basically the boots problem.

(I carry one purse year-round and only swap out for special occasions; I don't "do" seasonal purses.)

Peach: "I have several of the old Coach bags I bought myself when I could first "afford" them, and they defined luxury for me, because I grew up in a place and an era when rich people bought things that were made of excellent materials, didn't show off much, and never wore out."

Yes, I have a pre-luxury-branding Coach purse that's more than 20 years old that my mom gave me as gift in high school -- a basic black thing with no exterior branding. It is basically like a SUPER BUTTERY BASEBALL GLOVE, leather-wise. It will NEVER wear out and dings and scratches make it look more distinguished. It's never particularly in style so it doesn't really go out of style. It's a cross-body bag which isn't a style I currently like to carry so it's mostly been sitting on my shelf for several years, but as long as I take care of the leather periodically it'll still look just as nice in another 20 years and won't go out of style until leather does.

I see Coach now and it's hard to believe it's even the same brand, just because of how different the leather is!

(I actually think that Michael Kors is a cute purse -- probably not one I would carry, but cute! -- although BOO on the visible branding.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:47 AM on July 22 [9 favorites]


I know next to nothing about fashion stuff, but I have really enjoyed all of the discussion about detailing and "object strategy" so thank you all.
posted by aramaic at 5:48 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


I am all for reasonable frivolity. But really, spending a lot of money on a freaking bag is a waste, in so many ways. If you can get over being a label zombie you can find probably something that looks just as good, for so much less.

Yes. In your judgment and its not an unreasonable judgment by any stretch, but some people don't feel that way or derive value from it in ways you and I don't understand.

I don't know what the point is of popping into a thread about high(ish) end bags and calling people fools for spending $350 on them. Do you think everyone who is buying these bags isn't doing that calculus? My wife carries a Celine bag most days, and I assure you that math was done before it got bought.
posted by JPD at 5:52 AM on July 22 [21 favorites]


Wasn't there a post on the Blue a while back about how what you carried and how you carried it was THE modern wealth signifier? The wealthy carry much less, and carry it more expensively. For men, often carrying nothing is the highest symbol (nothing but the wallet/phone in your suit).

I must say I do find bag watching fascinating... you can try to reconstruct someone's personality the same way you would from their choice of pet.
posted by selfnoise at 5:53 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


These kinds of threads always crack me up (and no, I'm not telling you what bag I carry or how much I want to spend on one). East-coast white intelligentsia is all about durability and practicality and doing your research. And pretending not to understand things that you actually find tacky.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:53 AM on July 22 [10 favorites]


Does no one make a fancy non-leather bag? Something not made of animal that all the luxury spenders will want to show off?

George, Gina & Lucy make fancy nylon bags. They have an interesting mix of super trendy and more classic designs and colors. I usually have 3-5 my Zappos favorites list, but have only purchased one so far. They are fun, but the hardware can make them heavy.

M.Z. Wallace is another brand that I have been eying, as my go-to nylon bag is beginning to fall apart.

I used to love Coach and still own what is now considered one of their "Classic" handbags. But the quality and style has gone downhill.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 5:53 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


Does no one make a fancy non-leather bag? Something not made of animal that all the luxury spenders will want to show off?

Stella McCartney does not use leather or fur and a Falabella bag will get you a nod in fashionable circles.
posted by like_neon at 5:55 AM on July 22 [10 favorites]


Does no one make a fancy non-leather bag? Something not made of animal that all the luxury spenders will want to show off?

They're not quite luxury, more high-end consumer bags, but Mandarina Duck is an Italian line that makes some really inventive bags out of all sorts of materials.

In case I come off sounding like an ad... I haven't bought anything from them in ten years, because my three leather bags from them are still going strong. They pay a lot of attention to how bags wear, and it shows. Not a single D-ring or strap issue, no burst seams. The only issue I'm starting to have on my favorite bag is that the leather is starting to wear thin where it rubs my thigh when I walk. The math definitely works out: I spent about 100 euros on each at the time, and they've all lasted 10 years. That's 10 euros/year per bag.

I get these Kors bags; they do definitely have a "This Is Professional Class" style. Here in France, that niche is filled by another brand that's so darned prevalent, if you've seen it once, you start to notice them everywhere: Lancel bags (Google images). I wouldn't want one myself, but to each their own.
posted by fraula at 5:58 AM on July 22 [6 favorites]


ArbitraryAndCapricious: "I think a lot of it is just pure conspicuous consumption. Bags are a really efficient way to broadcast that you know what's fashionable and can afford to buy it. ... With shoes, you have to consider lifestyle factors like whether you need to be able to walk comfortably. Bags are way easier: you can carry the same one every day, and you don't have to worry about whether it fits you or flatters your body type. So they're great if you don't want to devote all you budget and free time to being fashionable but still want people to know that you are. "

Or, it's that since you carry one every day and it carries your important Life Stuff, you want one that makes you happy every time you use it and that suits your lifestyle and holds up to a reasonable amount of abuse. It doesn't make you a fashion victim or a conspicuous consumer to want your most prominent, most-used daily accessory to be pretty AND practical.

Purse shopping is hard. I require, first, external cell phone slip pockets. Second, it must be small enough to carry on my shoulder without back problems. Third, large enough for my kindle. Fourth, have a full-zip top because I ALL THE TIME accidentally flip it over. Fifth, be sturdy enough not to slouch out of shape because I hate that. Sixth, be nice enough to carry professionally but everyday enough to carry to the park with my kids. Seventh, appeal to my aesthetic sense because I have to look at and interact with it every single day.

And then I have to commit to spending that much money on a handbag (while people act all judgy about it), AND to transferring my stuff from one purse to another purse and learning a new purse which is pretty much up there with learning a new car and not being able to find the wipers for six weeks or when they rearrange the grocery store and I can't find olive oil for three months. (But probably other people are better at change than I am.)

It is a much more practicality-driven decision than buying a backpack or a laptop bag, as I have to get far more utility out of far less space, AND it has to look nice because I'm a professional. (It doesn't have to look expensive or fashiony, just nice enough to be unobtrusive and not visually jarring with a suit.) I feel like people don't look so askance when people get excited about expensive messenger bags or fancy backpacks, probably because those are male or unisex accessories, while purses are for women so being excited about them or spending a lot on them is obviously a sign of moral degeneracy.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:00 AM on July 22 [83 favorites]


Great post. I've been a handbag fiend since I was but a wee girl. Stickers on my plastic Limited Too plastic box, decoupage on a wood yard sale find. These days I spend a little bit more than that. I, too, will die a drag queen, but with fabulous overpriced handbags AND still find money in my budget for retirement and poverty, etc.

Does no one make a fancy non-leather bag? Something not made of animal that all the luxury spenders will want to show off? Goyard totes are canvas, though the trim is leather.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:00 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Just wait till you see the Patty!
posted by Poldo at 6:01 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Yes. In your judgment and its not an unreasonable judgment by any stretch, but some people don't feel that way or derive value from it in ways you and I don't understand.

I don't know what the point is of popping into a thread about high(ish) end bags and calling people fools for spending $350 on them. Do you think everyone who is buying these bags isn't doing that calculus? My wife carries a Celine bag most days, and I assure you that math was done before it got bought.


For whatever reason, fashion is also the area where people feel most free judging people for how much they spend. I honestly think there's some latent misogyny here, in that fashion typically is the province of women (or effeminate men), so it's okay to see that as completely frivolous in the way things women do or care tend to be seen as frivolous. There's some inherent truth to the idea that clothes are more superficial, I guess, but we tend to only see the superficial aspects of spending a lot of money on handbags, rather than practical aspects of spending a lot of money on an item you use everyday.

Even as a man, I got a stern lecture from my father (I'm 30) about how I was "brainwashed" into buying a $50 shirt (you see $20 is the Maximum Price of Shirts). This from a man who owns two RVs, a sailboat, three kayaks, and four or five cars. Those purchases make sense to him, though, because they're "practical."
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:03 AM on July 22 [65 favorites]


The thing is, it also weighs heavily into the discussion of this previous post: for some women, having the "right" status accessories are the only way to escape the bottom. And that can only happen if for some people at the top, this choice is not arbitrary.
posted by Mchelly at 6:05 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Great post, fascinating thread. This observation especially resonates: > I feel like people don't look so askance when people get excited about expensive messenger bags or fancy backpacks, probably because those are male or unisex accessories, while purses are for women so being excited about them or spending a lot on them is obviously a sign of moral degeneracy.

I'm not a purse person, and most of the time I don't even carry a bag, but I definitely have Thing for messenger bags and backpacks. I do my best to stay out of questions on the green where people ask for recs because I am weak.
posted by rtha at 6:12 AM on July 22 [7 favorites]


No, sorry mchelly, the status things that we have/like are important and practical, the status things that other people have/like are stupid and bad.

I admit to being defensive about this because these kinds of bags are a Big Deal where I'm from and yes, $300 is a lot of money there. You can also wear it year round and your boyfriend/fiance/husband can buy it for you without knowing your size. You can get a deal in various ways. That, of course, means that to a good number of people on metafilter it's the sole domain of People Who Suck and Don't Understand Quality.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:14 AM on July 22 [14 favorites]


Pity poor Coach, if these comments are anything to go by. Once you lose your high end reputation, it is nearly impossible to get it back. Chanel used to trash unsold product rather than let it go to the second tier retailers for this very reason. These days, a brand like Hermes- well, all the damned knock-offs have made it a joke among certain women of my acquaintance. (Mind you, this comes up in conversations along the "when I get rich" variety- they're not buying that level in the first place.)

For what it's worth, most analysts seem to think that KORS is getting ahead of itself, price-wise.

PS - the mark-up on handbags is said to be obscene.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:14 AM on July 22


I wear pretty much the same thing to work every day. I'm a teacher, so it's plain trousers, button blouse, blazer. I can't buy fancy shoes, never could, because high heels kill me and now I am relegated to old lady shoes (flat, with wide toe-box) because of a Morton's neuroma. When I'm off work, I wear Gap Outlet jeans and mesh polos, because at my age I look like unholy heck in a T-shirt. And I carry a light laptop, written journal, wallet, phone, fountain pens, first aid stuff, and looseleaf notebook with me almost all the time. The bag is the only thing I can really change to play around with color & style. Heck, my husband has a handbag now because of phone, wallet, work keys, and other accouterments, and he's addicted to Tumi (just bought another) because it's sturdy, sharp-looking, and easy on the back.

But seriously, it's all justification for my Winnie-the-Pooh urge for a "Useful Pot to Put Things In." I am drawn to containers of all sorts. In my field of vision right now, I have wooden index card file boxes, a fountain pen case, a huge glass jar full of sports medals, a large shell with penknives in it, an old brass fire extinguisher containing decorative swords, and a windowsill full of small jars and boxes. Bags are Things You Can Put Things In. And, like Eeyore with the busted balloon, I put things in, and take them out, over and over and over again. It's a wonderful process.
posted by Peach at 6:15 AM on July 22 [21 favorites]


Used to be, you bought Coach bags because they were well-made and would last for years, not because they were trendy.

Yep. I remember years ago when a couple of social-climbing co-workers decided that $300 Dooney & Burke bags were the bags of choice and Coach was for rubes. Wonder where those D&B bags are now? But still, it's sad what has happened to the Coach brand. I'm almost afraid to buy another one now and am considering returning to the "cheap bag every six months" plan.
posted by fuse theorem at 6:18 AM on July 22


Everyone's talking about how this isn't expensive for handbag, but all I can think about is just how much backpack or messenger bag $300 can buy.
posted by sourwookie at 6:19 AM on July 22 [5 favorites]


My closet is full of $35 Target faux-leather handbags that have busted zippers, broken straps, and holes. Buying a solid leather handbag for $200 costs less than buying cheap bags that fall apart. Like anything else, you have to spend over a certain threshold to get quality goods. People understand this concept in regards to cars, or sports equipment, or cookware, but as soon as we're talking about something that falls under the heading of fashion, we start referencing communist revolutions. I wonder why that is?
posted by almostmanda at 6:20 AM on July 22 [29 favorites]


...fashion is also the area where people feel most free judging people for how much they spend.

More though, it's about judging people for how little they spend, which is the problem a lot of people have with it.
posted by Flashman at 6:21 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


To everyone in this thread who thinks a quality handbag is frivolous - get over it. Womenswear almost never has pockets worth a damn, so where else am I going to put my wallet, keys and mobile phone? I only need one and I use it every day. It may as well be a good one.

All that being said, the handbag is the Black Tulip of our age. The It Bag has artificially inflated prices further down the chain so finding something that will last more than a year at under €200 these days is almost impossible. YMMV but in my opinion that sort of money is much better spent on a hand crafted artefact from a specialist atelier* rather than a mass-produced trinket of the moment that acts as a glorified dog whistle for people in the know. Also makes for a more satisfying shopping experience, and you'll always know the provenance of what you're buying.

*my current handbag, purchased at source
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 6:21 AM on July 22 [9 favorites]


If you played video games in the 90s, you can't see the log without shouting "Mortal Kombat!!!!" in your head.

That said, is funny how brands fall in and out of favor. It doesn't seem like long ago that Fendi purses were the must-have, now you never see them, aside from occasionally on sunglasses.
posted by dr_dank at 6:22 AM on July 22


I admit need to reframe my thinking of a purse as less of "fashion accessory" and more of "utilitarian carryall"--but shouldn't they have straps and pockets everywhere and be more secure if that were the case? Maybe it's just that are backpacks aren't as fashionable they should be instead and purse designers have gotten really good at hiding their utility.
posted by sourwookie at 6:22 AM on July 22


I have a bunch of shitty Target bags that last about a month (the lining in the most recent one ripped mere weeks into ownership) and I keep using them until they are so grungy and dirty that I'm embarrassed to be seen in them. And then I throw them out. I really should save up for a nice handbag, that looks appropriate for a late-30s professional woman to be carrying. It would be more cost-effective and less wasteful. But somehow I have never been able to commit to the One Bag that I would then have to use for like 5 years, minimum. I wish I could, and hold no judgement against those who have.
posted by misskaz at 6:23 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


I feel like people don't look so askance when people get excited about expensive messenger bags or fancy backpacks, probably because those are male or unisex accessories, while purses are for women so being excited about them or spending a lot on them is obviously a sign of moral degeneracy.

That is a really good point. The most money I have spent on any bag was on the custom messenger bag I use for work every day, which doubles as luggage if I go away for the weekend. But the pushback on buying it? Non-existent, because the bag was considered useful. The pushback I got on the George, Gina & Lucy bag, which was half the cost of the messenger? Staggering.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 6:24 AM on July 22 [15 favorites]


For whatever reason, fashion is also the area where people feel most free judging people for how much they spend.

Since fashion is by definition about signalling class and status, that makes a lot of sense. I don't think you have to invoke misogyny; I got a lot of shit (in a poorly-paid government agency!) in my first real job for wearing the wrong kinds of shoes and suits. And I love being an academic because the expectations are so low (so it's easy to exceed them with the taste I developed under peer pressure in that first job.)

Look, the real problem here is the profit margin. Fashion is a high margin business, which means that you pay a lot more than things cost. You're *literally* getting exploited/expropriated, in that moment. You're wearing the evidence of your imprudence and wastefulness on your sleeve.

I like to remind folks that a good number (2 of the top 10, 4 of the top 20) of the top billionaires in the world got that rich on fashion. There's something weird about that, I think: I'd like it if the richest people in the world made their money on medicine or steel or railroads or agriculture, or something we all need. Getting to the very top making clothes and makeup suggests that you're extracting a lot of profit, and you can only do that by tricking the other rich people (the ones who do useful things, if you believe the capitalist hype) to pay way too much for your products.

So it makes sense to judge others for getting bamboozled by brands and marketing, just because they're being tricked out of their hard-earned or easily-inherited wealth. And of course, at the same time, if all of us judgers weren't falling for it too, it wouldn't work and those billionaires wouldn't be billionaires.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:24 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


This thread is fascinating. I'm a dude and nobody I know is really into handbags as far as I know (I've never bothered to look! Maybe there's a silent war happening right underneath my nose!), but man! so much to think about.

There are actually real definitions of what luxuries are in an economic sense, which is to say: when your income escalates, so do your purchases in that category.

I am going to be (perhaps needlessly) pedantic here and point out that this is a definition of a normal good, as opposed to an inferior good (which is a good you spend less on when your income increases, conditional on prices being constant; I'll go with frozen pizza as an example, based on my own life.

posted by dismas at 6:24 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Wasn't there a post on the Blue a while back about how what you carried and how you carried it was THE modern wealth signifier? The wealthy carry much less, and carry it more expensively. For men, often carrying nothing is the highest symbol (nothing but the wallet/phone in your suit).

I'm not wealthy and I don't interact much with wealthy people, but this rings true to me as a status signifier. I carry nothing other than wallet, keys, and phone; some years back when I was working overseas I carried cash and literally nothing else which was oh so wonderful. There are always these accounts here of men carrying backpacks full of laptops and gadgets and pounds of other crap everywhere, all of which solve problems that can be solved with money or a phone call.

My partner has preferred to carry very minimalist and mostly cheap purse things (clutches I think they are called?), but if she decided she needed a $500 purse as a professional accessory we'd budget for it -- everything else about being a professional woman is more expensive, from haircuts to shoes, so it makes sense that this is as well.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:26 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


I am going to be (perhaps needlessly) pedantic here and point out that this is a definition of a normal good, as opposed to an inferior good (which is a good you spend less on when your income increases, conditional on prices being constant; I'll go with frozen pizza as an example, based on my own life.

It's been too many years since I took intro econ, but shouldn't there be three categories? Things like frozen pizza where you buy less as your income rises; things like milk that you just keep buying the same amount (though perhaps of a more luxurious quality, like organic heirloom milk instead of generic supermarket brand); and things where you buy more as your income rises, like purses.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:29 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


After having 2 or 3 cheap handbags from TJ Maxx or similar self-destruct within a short period, I was so excited to snap up a Coach bag at a consignment store last year. As a not-really-into-fashion person I didn't realize how hopelessly NOT the bag to get it was. I like how it looks and it's held up well, though; and anyone who looks at me and thinks "Coach? Really?" is probably not someone whose opinion I care that much about anyway.
posted by matcha action at 6:31 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


I don't agree that $300 on a bag is necessarily obscenely expensive.

I look at everything on a cost-per-wear basis. The last time I bought a leather handbag was in 2006. It's tan-coloured leather, with several different zipped compartments, and goes with almost everything. I paid something like $80 for it (heavily discounted - it was originally a couple of hundred). Not a well-known brand. I've used it at least 3 times a week, at a conservative estimate, for eight years, and only now is it looking a bit shabby.

On a cost-per-wear basis, it's probably the cheapest item in my wardrobe. Additionally, using it gives me daily pleasure: not only do I like the way it looks, but it keeps things separated and secure, the strap is comfortable, and it's the perfect size/shape.

I won't pay extra for a label, unless I genuinely think it looks nicer, will last longer, and feel better to use than a bag of the same price. (Plus, I admit to prefer wearing 'invisible brands', which is probably some other kind of inverse snobbery or something.)

But I also don't buy cheap bags, because I can't afford to.
posted by Salamander at 6:35 AM on July 22 [15 favorites]


But I also don't buy cheap bags, because I can't afford to.

Yeah, it's very much like the oft-quoted Sam Vines work boots theory but since it's largely a gendered item it gets much more scorn than someone saying "well I spent $300 on hiking boots but let me explain why this is a good deal in the long run".
posted by elizardbits at 6:41 AM on July 22 [36 favorites]


It doesn't seem like long ago that Fendi purses were the must-have, now you never see them, aside from occasionally on sunglasses

I don't get it, but Fendi is very much back in fashion's good graces with the recent peekaboo range, particularly with their perplexing peekaboo monsters. As a person who commutes in a busy city I don't really understand how you're supposed to feel your belongings are safe with the side flapping out like that? Anyway, people who are goggling at the Michael Kors $300 price tag, please note the Fendi starts at a cool $4,000.
posted by like_neon at 6:42 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


This thread cracked me up! So much satire, I thought, and laughed out loud. But then I clicked on the username and discovered that those people were being serious. o_O

I carry something like this. I have two - one is teal and one is fuchsia. The store I buy them at allows to bring them back for a free exchange should they wear out. Mine are probably 2 yrs old and despite regular use (I carry not only my *LIFE*, as some of you framed it, but also groceries, books from the library etc. in them) they've held up fine.
posted by travelwithcats at 6:43 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


When you, like I, have a hard time justifying a $30 purse, a $200 purse is definitely a luxury good. I'm using a hand-me-down vinyl backpack.

Value Village - bags between $2 and $10, in relatively good condition.

My mother-in-law is firmly in the top 5% of income, and she carries a purse she bought for less than $10. I liked the design, but it wasn't robust enough for me, so I switched to my second hand bags. Most of them have lasted, but I switched when I get bored or when I get paint on them. Also, I don't feel guilty that I'm buying sweatshop products - I probably still am, but the money goes to charity.

I'm appalled by the Kors bag that started ripping within one year. That should be a disgrace to destroy the brand. When a pair of $180 shoes started breaking down within a year, they tried to give me that "you wore them outside, that damaged them" nonsense -- I took a well-spoken friend back with me to the store, and walked out with a free second pair. (Which have lasted through truly rough usage for more than a year - the first were lemons).
posted by jb at 6:44 AM on July 22


My current bag is a hollowed-out possum carcass with wax paper interior. It gets a ton of comments. When I go out, people are always asking, "What is that?" Onlookers will turn to their companions and discreetly mutter, "Incredible." It has a lot of nice features, like the phone pouch and a tail. If I want to look extra cool, sometimes I'll place a cigarette behind one of its ears.
posted by compartment at 6:45 AM on July 22 [112 favorites]


Also to those considering a Gorge, Gina & Lucy bag - don't bring it on your trip to Germany.
posted by travelwithcats at 6:48 AM on July 22


I think I love you, compartment. :D
posted by Salamander at 6:49 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I once did pay $300 for a bag - $279 before tax.

It has an internal frame, holds 80L and can carry everything a person needs to live in the woods for a week or so. (Longer would need more food). Still using it 18 years later - albeit only on special occasions.
posted by jb at 6:52 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


Do people who buy luxury brands (or brands they perceive as luxurious) feel like they're getting great quality, or is it just showing off wealth, or is it about fashion, or what? All of the above?

Just showing off. No one in the world needs a purse. I hate them and I do not want to be tethered to one as I root for garbage I don't need: they are like a security blanket for women. I prefer to take my essentials in my pocket and be good to go in a heartbeat...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 6:52 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


But, but...what are these women's items of clothing with pockets that you speak of??
posted by Salamander at 6:54 AM on July 22 [31 favorites]


I have 4 Coach bags: two black, one blue and one brown, all from local thrift stores that I scrounged when I moved to NYC years ago. I haven't bought a purse in 15 years. My criteria each time were: Is it well made? Is it neutral enough to wear with different outfits? Can it carry what I need to carry? I grew up needing to use cheap, pleather bags from K-Mart because I was poor. Without fail, the paint used to cover the cloth would peel, or something would break off, or some plastic or polyurethane thing drew attention to itself, so it was nice to find decent bags that could quietly do the job.

It's true; when I'm at the shops, I can see that the quality of most handbags in the middle range has really dropped off, and I wouldn't buy a Coach bag made today. I don't like the Michael Kors bag, either, mainly because I don't like the side handles. I don't carry my handbags in the manner of a Taylor Swift, so those are useless to me, and I don't like the way the bag itself extends on the sides. Also, I don't like wearing things with people's names on them, unless they're my rock band t-shirts.

A decent woman's wallet, however, has been hard to find. I have a black one and a tan one, but would love to find a red one.
posted by droplet at 6:55 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


JB, you bought a backpack which serves a totally different purpose than the handbags people are talking about here.
posted by ChuraChura at 6:56 AM on July 22 [5 favorites]


It has an internal frame, holds 80L

I'm impressed. 80 litres is a lot for a bag.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:58 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


Yeah, even the most mannish items of clothing I own can just barely fit my phone alone in one pocket. To try and carry my wallet, or something that can hold money, credit cards, insurance cards, ID, metrocard, etc in the other pocket, plus house keys, work keys, asthma inhaler, chapstick, eyedrops... I have no idea what I would be wearing but I assume it would resemble those fly fisherman vests with a dozen pockets on the front.
posted by elizardbits at 6:59 AM on July 22 [22 favorites]


I prefer to take my essentials in my pocket and be good to go in a heartbeat

Sounds like none of the following are essential to you: any kind of credit/debit card, glasses, keys that are longer than 5cm, phone, sanitary products.
posted by Ness at 7:00 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


sourwookie: "I admit need to reframe my thinking of a purse as less of "fashion accessory" and more of "utilitarian carryall"--but shouldn't they have straps and pockets everywhere and be more secure if that were the case?"

People like different things. Lots of people use tote bags and tote-style purses and like the ease of access, but I can't imagine because I constantly tip my purse over and then it spills. But the tote people probably wouldn't like to be constantly bothered with the zipper on mine! Lots of people like multiple interior compartments or organizers; I prefer just one compartment and I'd rather use my own wallet than a purse organizer. Some people want to be able to carry their lunch, water bottle, umbrella, etc., all in one handbag; others just want to carry a few things.

Alexandra Kitty: "Just showing off. No one in the world needs a purse. I hate them and I do not want to be tethered to one as I root for garbage I don't need: they are like a security blanket for women. I prefer to take my essentials in my pocket and be good to go in a heartbeat..."

How nice for you. I prefer to grab my purse and be good to go in a heartbeat. I carried just a wallet and keys in my jeans pockets for many years, but then my needs and lifestyle changed, and so I started carrying a purse, and refrained from making value judgments about something as trivial as other people's stuff-toting mechanisms. The bulkiest thing I carry in my purse, incidentally, is a CPR mask and non-latex gloves.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:05 AM on July 22 [40 favorites]


Mmmm...not sure if some people are being deliberately obtuse here, but hiking backpack/cloth tote/pocket =/= leather handbag. In either form or function.
posted by Salamander at 7:06 AM on July 22


The bag that has become my daily bag is a red suede tote that I got for about $18 at a thrift shop. It was in extremely good condition, attractive, roomy, and yet small enough that it doesn't scream "tote".

If I'm being charged $250 for a bag, I'd expect it to be capable of giving me cunnilingus once daily.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:07 AM on July 22 [14 favorites]


The bulkiest thing I carry in my purse, incidentally, is a CPR mask and non-latex gloves.

Jeez stop showing off!
posted by shakespeherian at 7:08 AM on July 22 [8 favorites]


I have no idea what I would be wearing but I assume it would resemble those fly fisherman vests with a dozen pockets on the front.

One of the best things about San Francisco is that the weather makes wearing a jacket a must for much of the year, which means even more pockets!
posted by rtha at 7:09 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


The point those people try to make is that leather handbag =/= name brand leather handbag.
posted by travelwithcats at 7:10 AM on July 22


I will never not think spending three digits on a handbag is not ridiculous.

A relative who owns too many purses gave my wife a couple of them. One of them is some $250 thing, and my wife refuses to use it because she thinks it's ridiculous. She goes through a $20 purse every 3-4 years or so. She has never had one spontaneously combust or fall into tatters, and people aren't clucking their heads and pitying the poor lady nor passing her over for promotions because of it.

I have a $15 messenger bag made of genuine ripstop nylon and plastic which I have carried my stuff in for about 12 years now -- at first it was overstuffed with RPG books and carried a couple times a week, and for the past few years it's carried my Kindle and/or books and iPod and diabetes supplies and random stuff to work, and it's been my carry-on bag for about three flights. It shows no signs of wear or damage.

There are people in the US who cannot afford water. A damned $200 bag is a luxury. It may not be luxury to the fashion world, but the fashion world itself pretty much defines luxury.
posted by Foosnark at 7:11 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


I have never spent more than like $30 on a bag. I don't know if this makes me awesome or really uncool.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:11 AM on July 22


As someone who's never owned a purse, I have found this thread (and the one about checking bags) super interesting, and it's made me reconsider my snap judgments of other ladies and their opulent-looking purses. I definitely agree there's a tendency to look askance at handbag costs since they're primarily the provenance of women. No one has ever judged me (at least not to my face) for having a whole stack of fancy messenger bags, even though some of them cost just as much as a more traditionally feminine-looking bag.
posted by ferret branca at 7:12 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


travelwithcats, how are they making that point by talking about things that are not handbags?
posted by Salamander at 7:12 AM on July 22


Okay, I realize that my sneering at spending that much on a handbag makes it look like I'm criticizing the people who do spend money on them; I honestly am not. I'm pissed off at the notion that people could charge that much. Even when you take into account the manufacturers and the craftsmen who put a bag together - that's still gotta be a huge markup from the wholesale price, and one way to keep the costs down for the consumer is to skim the CEO's salary.

If the $250 bag happens to be the one that warms the cockles of your heart, fair enough. It's if you think you have to get one, even though you secretly would be happy with a cheaper one, that I get mad at other people on your behalf - because honestly, half the time no one really cares whether your bag is made of leather or pleather or whatever because how can they tell.

If you like the bag, get it, even if the bag you like is something you saw in a "free - please take" box set out on the curb.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:16 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


One of them is some $250 thing, and my wife refuses to use it because she thinks it's ridiculous. She goes through a $20 purse every 3-4 years or so.

Okay, well, I'm happy for her. Seriously. Because I've never come across a $20 purse that I could use every second day for one year, let alone 4, without it falling to bits and/or looking like crap.

Also, if it looks ridiculous, that probably has little to do with it costing $250. Perhaps it's just a fugly bag?
posted by Salamander at 7:16 AM on July 22 [5 favorites]


Enquiring minds want to know - are those Lancel bags made from 100% genuine Lannisters?
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:17 AM on July 22 [8 favorites]


Let's take the definition that Wikipedia gives, Salamander: "A handbag [...] is a handled medium-to-large bag [...] [used] to hold personal items such as wallet/coins, keys, mobile phone, cosmetics and jewelry, books/e-books, pen and paper, food and beverage such as a water bottle, pepper spray and other items for self-defence, tampons and other feminine hygiene products, contraceptives, tissues and infant care products, or a hairbrush."

The same article notes:
"According to type of handle, handbags are often categorized as:

- Tote: a medium to large bag with two straps and an open top
- Cross-body: one long strap that crosses over the body, with the bag resting at the front by the waist
- Sling bag: one long, wide strap that crosses over the body, with the bag resting on the back
- Shoulder bag: any bag with shoulder-length straps
- Clutch: handleless

Handbags that are designed for specific utilitarian needs include:

- Laptop purse: a medium to large bag that contains a padded interior compartment or sleeve for protecting a laptop computer
- Camera bag: for carrying photography equipment
- Gym bag: for carrying toiletry items and the clothing and/or shoes a person intends to use for their workout
- Cosmetic bag: a small bag for holding cosmetics, often made of synthetic waterproof protective material
- Duffle bag: a large cylindrical bag usually used for travel or sports gear, sometimes called a "weekend bag"
- Security bag: protects the carrier from travel theft and includes an invisible stainless steel strap sewn into the fabric and a protectant on the main zipper.
"

I think there was one person talking about a backpack, and I agree, that is not a handbag.
posted by travelwithcats at 7:20 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


One of them is some $250 thing, and my wife refuses to use it because she thinks it's ridiculous. She goes through a $20 purse every 3-4 years or so.

This is what I do, with messenger bags.

It's really all about how you want to spend your money. I don't know what I would do with a $300 bag that inevitably is going to get scratched and dirty in NYC within the first week. $300 would be good for a fantastic dinner though.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:20 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


East-coast white intelligentsia is all about durability and practicality and doing your research.

Protestants justify having fun by turning it into homework.
posted by The Whelk at 7:23 AM on July 22 [52 favorites]


Michael Kors is the epitome of My First Real Job accessories.

That is so spot on for current graduates at my Big 4 accounting firm in London I laughed out loud. If I had £1 for every young woman I've seen with a Michael Kors handbag or accessory, well, I could afford a damn nice bag from Selfridges. Seems that the ubiquitous Mulberry (often £1,000+) is being undercut very quickly.

Coach is nowhere among young grads who are moderately well-to-do -- it's all Ted Baker and Louis Vuitton AFAIK. Maybe the odd wallet.

And if I could identify a bag that would be fashionable, durable, smart and professional I'd buy it in a snap; a good bag is cheaper than a good wardrobe and gives indifferent clothes some reflected glory.

(I'm disappointed in myself -- I really want an Hermes handbag now.)
posted by NoiselessPenguin at 7:23 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


$300 is a ridiculous amount to spend on dinner!
posted by Flashman at 7:23 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


But I also don't buy cheap bags, because I can't afford to.

Except for the fact that these $300 handbags apparently break down within one year - making them far more expensive than a $30 vinyl bag that lasts for two years.

Mmmm...not sure if some people are being deliberately obtuse here, but hiking backpack/cloth tote/pocket =/= leather handbag. In either form or function.

Yes, they are different in form and function: hiking bags have to withstand greater weight pressures, and be more well-designed for support. They are actually worth paying $300 for on a functional basis - as opposed to the demands of fashion. (or more than $300 - mine was at the cheap end, and it showed in the poorer fit and support).

I'm impressed. 80 litres is a lot for a bag.
posted by shakespeherian


Too large actually: fully packed it was too heavy for me. Next time I'm buying a 60L bag to keep me more disciplined in packing.

Sounds like none of the following are essential to you: any kind of credit/debit card, glasses, keys that are longer than 5cm, phone, sanitary products.

Actually, no - I carry at all times (except when dancing):
- phone
- separate PDA/iPod
- wallet
- keys with a big wrist band
- diary
- second notebook
- two pens
- sometimes a bottle of ink
- sunglasses - etc, etc, etc

The last time I cleaned my purse, someone likened it to the scene from The Breakfast Club when Allison dumps her bag.

And I do all this within a small purse that I bought for $4 at value village. When I have a job interview and that purse isn't appropriate (it has a monkey on it), I use another small bag that cost $10 (and only stopped using because it didn't fit my ereader with everything else).

The point isn't that we don't do the same things, it's that we chose to do them differently.

Now, I don't work at a highend job in New York City. Maybe if I did, I would feel pressure to not carry a handbag which has a monkey on it (and stickers from World Pride). But assuming that everyone does live in that class is classist. Someone commented at the beginning of the thread that Michael Kors is what people get for their "first real job". My first "real" (full-time, paid by check, not cash) job required me to wear black pants, sturdy shoes and chefs' whites - they didn't care what purse, if any, I carried.
posted by jb at 7:24 AM on July 22 [5 favorites]


Foosnark: "There are people in the US who cannot afford water. A damned $200 bag is a luxury."

... so are RPG books.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:25 AM on July 22 [20 favorites]


"$300 is a ridiculous amount to spend on dinner!"

How many people are we talking?
posted by travelwithcats at 7:25 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


$300 is a ridiculous amount to spend on dinner!

I totally know. But it's delicious.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:25 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


The talk about how ridiculous it is to spend so much on a handbag reminds me of one of the best episodes of Sex and the City:

Carrie attends a friend's baby shower, where everyone is asked to take their shoes off at the door. Someone steals Carrie's shoes, and when her friend offers to pay for them, she's aghast when Carrie tells them they cost $450. The friend refuses to pay that much money for shoes.

Carrie does the math and realizes she has spent about three times that much on her friend's wedding and three baby showers. So she sends her friend a card saying she's engaged to herself and that she's registered at Manolo Blahnik. She gets her shoes back. It's obnoxious but brilliant, I think, and as an unmarried woman it really resonated with me.

I use Apple products and am judged for that all the time, so I decided long ago that I would not judge people on how they spend their money.
posted by girlmightlive at 7:25 AM on July 22 [17 favorites]


(And I meant $300 for four people, sorry.)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:25 AM on July 22


Oh damn, those Fendi Peekaboo Monster bags are adorable. I would never ever spend the money on one: $300 for a durable everyday bag is one thing, $4000 for a trendy novelty bag is quite another. But if $4000 novelty bags have to exist, they might as well be cute and clever.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:27 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


I get bored with purses so all my purses cycle in and out. I like to change them up, colour, shape, material. So though I don't buy $20 purses, which fall apart in about 21 seconds, I do buy 50-75$ ones, which tend to last, especially when that is the sale price -- I almost never have a purse fall apart before I am permanently bored with it. (And I keep purses for years and years and years.)

I'm not judging people who buy expensive purses (unless they are also complaining to me about debt). I will judge people who say $300 is not expensive for a purse. It is, for some people, worth it, and good for them. There are even more expensive purses, but that doesn't make $300 inexpensive.

I admit that my "I am too cheap for an expensive purse" was slightly tempted by the monster bags, but not $4000 tempted at least.
posted by jeather at 7:28 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


I prefer huge and sturdy bags because I'm like Mary Poppins - I jam a whole lot of stuff in them. Or, for any readers of Elizabeth Peters' Jacqueline Kirby mysteries, Jacqueline's purses. Dinky little bags never hold enough. So, expensive leather bags that I try to shop for secondhand - not just to save money, but for the thrill of the hunt.

And I agree that "frivolous spending" is all too often a misogynist charge. Not only is women's spending seen to be foolish and wasteful, it's always women who are told they should be spending their money on charity instead. Because spending money on yourself is selfish, amirite? Women should be sacrificing for others! That kind of scolding really gets up my nose. I believe women are not selfish ENOUGH, but that's veering off-topic. I say - if you want a nice bag, go forth and buy! It's your money!
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:30 AM on July 22 [14 favorites]


JB, my comment was in response to Alexandra Kitty, who does not use a handbag, preferring pockets. The last time I managed the same I was in my early 20s in the 90s when combat trousers were acceptable work attire - they are no longer.
posted by Ness at 7:30 AM on July 22


I look forward to coming into an Xbox thread and scolding everyone for not buying a yo-yo instead. $300 is way too much to spend on (whatever unnecessary thing you care about).
posted by almostmanda at 7:32 AM on July 22 [64 favorites]


Okay, well, I'm happy for her. Seriously. Because I've never come across a $20 purse that I could use every second day for one year, let alone 4, without it falling to bits and/or looking like crap.

If you seriously would like to find a durable bag for less than $100, you want to look at travel stores. They won't be leather - they will be a more durable synthetic, but still look professional and even elegant (not all - travel stores off more selection for men and masculine of centre women who want non-feminine handbags). They will cost between $30 and $80, and they will be very robust. Some are even made with steel mesh up prevent thieves slicing them open.

Because I am boring and lazy, I never switch my handbag unless going to a job interview or wedding (birthday parties get the monkey). The price point for lasting seems to be $20-30. Below $20, and purses wear out in about a year (often soft fabric); above $30, and they seem to last very well (synthetics, leather). Second hand bags are, of course, random.
posted by jb at 7:33 AM on July 22 [5 favorites]


Thanks for that, travelwithcats, but what you said is:

The point those people try to make is that leather handbag =/= name brand leather handbag

Certainly, cloth totes and nylon backpacks are bags, as mentioned in your Wikiepedia article. But they are neither leather nor handbags, so how are those people comparing non-name-brand leather vs name-brand leather?

It's like someone saying they spend $200 on a men's business shoes, and me coming in and saying 'that's insane, I have sneakers that I spent $25 on that I've been wearing for 4 years'. It's apples and oranges.
posted by Salamander at 7:33 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Oh, sorry. I misunderstood. Apparently the bags I spend so much money on, because they have shoulder straps and carry my laptop and journal, are messenger bags. Many of the rest are totes. Even the Coach bags. And I empty my bag every day, because otherwise the Loch Ness monster and a population of evil brownies would live in my bags.

I do have some handbags. They aren't big enough to carry much in. I save them for going out to dinner so I have a place to put my wallet and phone and a pen, because women's clothes don't have pockets in them.
posted by Peach at 7:34 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


JB, my comment was in response to Alexandra Kitty, who does not use a handbag, preferring pockets. The last time I managed the same I was in my early 20s in the 90s when combat trousers were acceptable work attire - they are no longer.

I carry a handbag/purse for the same reason (usually in addition to a knapsack/tote for larger things like computers or sweaters).

But this is why cargo pants are the best things ever to wear while clubbing. I'm never dancing without pockets again.
posted by jb at 7:36 AM on July 22


But I also don't buy cheap bags, because I can't afford to.

Except for the fact that these $300 handbags apparently break down within one year - making them far more expensive than a $30 vinyl bag that lasts for two years.


OK, if it's true that (1) a well-made purse might be a better value than a cheap purse, and (2) MK and Coach are not well-made purses-- then for all you purse folks in this thread, what are the well-made bag brands?

Is there the equivalent of an Allen Edmonds for bags, for instance, where you can still use the one you bought in 1986 and it looks better than ever? For the non-trend-conscious person who still wants a functional bag, are there reliably good brands to pick up used on Ebay? A couple of people have mentioned buying custom bags from artisans, but are there mainstream brands that also fit this bill?
posted by Bardolph at 7:37 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


$300 is a ridiculous amount to spend on dinner!

If you just see food as fuel, sure.

If you value the aesthetic component of it, an evening out to a restaurant who does that sort of thing is more like going to a performance than anything else. It's no crazier than springing for a couple of tickets to see a Circe du Soleil show. Actually, it's less crazy: that dinner is cheaper and lasts about twice as long.

It perfectly possible to buy a handbag/purse for about $60 that will take the worst kind of abuse for a decade or so (perfectly washable, etc...). They are made of backpack material, heavy dernier nylon. Tom Bihn's product is, from personal experience, utterly practical, well made and highly durable. The problem is that it looks like all of those things.

Nobody makes decisions based just on utility. Choices about aesthetics and social signaling are hugely important. Value is important---no one likes buying an expensive piece of shit---but it's not the only important thing.
posted by bonehead at 7:37 AM on July 22 [10 favorites]


The only thing you can criticize someone for spending money on is a boat or other motorized water sport device.

Boats are dumb.
posted by The Whelk at 7:40 AM on July 22 [6 favorites]


t perfectly possible to buy a handbag/purse for about $60 that will take the worst kind of abuse for a decade or so (perfectly washable, etc...).

There are a lot of workplaces where you could not get away with using a purse like that, because it's not terribly professional looking. (Yes, there are all sorts of problems with the definition of professional in a workplace.)
posted by jeather at 7:40 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


jeather, I completely agree. That's pretty much my point.
posted by bonehead at 7:41 AM on July 22


Tumi bags last.
posted by Peach at 7:42 AM on July 22


I doubt anyone would be making this much of a fuss about someone spending 300 on some new technological gadget, or a 200 dollar meal, or the expensive hiking boots or some artisanal booze. It's kind of gross that that people are being so selectively judgmental when there are tons of frivolous stuff that gets bought - a lot which probably doesn't last as long as a decently made leather bag. I mean great some of you are ok with carrying everything you own in a paper sack or a cheap bag, thats great if expensive bags aren't your thing more power to you.

Women's handbags aren't anymore frivolous than plenty of other things we all spend money on, the argument that they don't have have any utilitarian value just because they don't have a ton of pockets and straps and aren't made from space age material is stupid and reductive. Just because you don't care about aesthetics doesn't mean no one should and most women don't need, and would look silly, carrying around some over engineered high tech messenger bag.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 7:43 AM on July 22 [38 favorites]


Well Sex and the City should not be our lesson here. Anyone remember when Carrie tried again with Aidan, he moves in, buys her and the adjacent apartment and wants to knock down a wall? Carrie freaks out, breaks up with him and gets a legal document basically saying: buy your apartment back or move out. Then Carrie calculates her expenditures- $40K for shoes alone - and tries to get a loan from the bank because she has no other assets. Bank loan doesn't work out, so she cries to the gang before she goes to Mr. Big who signs her a check.
posted by travelwithcats at 7:44 AM on July 22


Sex and the City was a contradictory show in many ways, but I still think the episode I wrote about holds up. I appreciate the lesson. Two years ago I was laid off, and money has been a struggle for me ever since, but I still don't regret the "frivolous" purchases I've made.
posted by girlmightlive at 7:48 AM on July 22


I have one of those multi-colored bags that makes other middle-aged ladies go "ooh did you get that at the craft show at the riverfront?"
posted by interplanetjanet at 7:48 AM on July 22 [6 favorites]


I buy a purse, generally Cole Haan or Coach about once a year, maybe year and a half. It needs to hold all my things, match/coordinate with my clothes (so a neutral in the grey to purple range, or purple to match my hair) and last me until I feel like a new purchase. Since I have a good idea of when I'll need to replace it--I don't beat mine to death but I do use them daily for a while--I can wait until whatever it is is on sale and/or I have a coupon. The waiting and using them daily means I don't want an it bag. It bags run out of fashion.

Short of having something custom made, which has its own appeal, that pretty much works for me as a middle-aged lady who wants a solid everyday bag that will last for a while. The Coach purses aren't nearly as nice as the old buttery leather ones, no, and I know the fact that they're lined means they're hiding the quality of the leather. They're also miles above the tacky C logo ones they had for a while that ran me out of the store.

If I had one of those ancient buttery Coach purses in grey that held all my stuff, I'd probably never buy another bag. Sadly all mine are black, which is on its way out of my wardrobe, and too small for the amount of crap I carry.
posted by immlass at 7:50 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Whilst the scolding and fussing continues flying about, I'll just say that my go-to for "grown up, great quality, ostentatious-less-ly branded" leather goods is Rebecca Minkoff - I started buying her stuff in early days when the handbag line consisted of 3 styles (I loved her before she was cooooool). She does a sample sale twice a year in NY and in LA (maybe SF too?) - May and November. There are a few true samples, but otherwise tables and tables of 3-6 month old colorways and some good basics.

I used to NEVER spot these bags in the wild, but in the past year or so the M.A.C. Clutch has become ubiquitous. I love most of her bags (some of the prints aren't quite me) and have a pair of shoes or two, and a pair of sunglasses or two, too. I can personally recommend the M.A.B. in the original size, the original size Cupid, and I just ordered a seriously-marked-down M.A.B. tote from the Nordstrom Anniversary sale to replace my backpack as a work bag.
posted by ersatzkat at 7:50 AM on July 22 [8 favorites]


Young white collar professionals often have quite unencumbered personal finances so I'm not surprised these people might spend one or two day's earnings on something that gets a lot of use. Luxury fashion brands charge what they can get away with, and if their prices seem obscene that simply reflects the obscene inequality of wealth distribution pretty much everywhere throughout the world.
posted by quosimosaur at 7:51 AM on July 22 [7 favorites]


I was in a department store one day and a cute clutch caught my eye. It was about the size of a standard envelope. I picked it up and saw that it was by MK and the original price was over $300. "He sure thinks a lot of himself." I put it back, rather disgusted, and haven't cared for MK since then."
posted by harrietthespy at 7:52 AM on July 22


I find all of the weird reasoning-acrobatics to justify spending $300 on a handbag kind of strange and a bit delusional. If you want to be part of the fashion game thing, that's fine, just do it, no worries. But all the - "But it's such good quality," "But it just perfectly fits my needs," "But I'm a professional I need it" - come on, the bag is $300 because someone with brand recognition slapped their name on the side. You aren't spending three bills for something with any real practical or lasting value. I've had the same $40 timbuk2 messenger that I carry every single day through rain and snow and camping and canoeing and biking for 10 years and I'm sure it will last another 20. So if you're looking for a durable, practical and well-made bag for your everyday toting needs, I can direct you to many great bags under $50. The $300 price tag is an arbitrary status signifier.

Now I'm not saying you shouldn't buy the damn thing if that's what you want. I wear a pair of Ray-Ban shades and I am fully aware of how stupid and silly it is to spend $150 on a pair of fucking sunglasses that really do very little different than the $10 knock-offs, but I like them and so I bought them anyway. But I don't have like any delusions about exactly what I did with my money there.
posted by Lutoslawski at 7:56 AM on July 22 [7 favorites]


CTRL + F "thrift"

Whew, at least a couple people mentioned this. The local fancypants consignment shop has a glass case full of high-end bags. The shop only takes stuff in perfect condition, so I assume the rich people just got bored with them.

I don't understand what y'all are doing to your bags, even the cheap ones, that they only last 6 months. I've had the same Nine West bag (from Goodwill!) for two or three years and it looks exactly the same as when I got it. The one I had before that did get a little grungy on the handle from body oils, but it was suede. I don't remember the brand, but again it was about $5 from Goodwill. What are you guys doing? Running them over with your car?
posted by desjardins at 7:56 AM on July 22 [12 favorites]


I look forward to coming into an Xbox thread and scolding everyone for not buying a yo-yo instead. $300 is way too much to spend on...

For me it's not the price (actually I think $300 - wasn't it £300 in the article? - is a reasonable price for a well-made bag, and for an unforgettable meal too for that matter ; ), it's the Michael Kors = My First Real Job accessories hahaha and how many Coach bags do you own and here's what real old money people do... that I find rather grating.
This thread kinda reminds of that one about the fake Instagram preppies a couple of weeks ago, which I thought was going to turn into a slagging onslaught but turned out to be Mefites comparing notes on where to find the best deals on Izod.
posted by Flashman at 7:57 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


The only thing you can criticize someone for spending money on is a boat or other motorized water sport device.

Boats are dumb.


Says someone who's clearly been on the wrong sorts of boats with the wrong sorts of people.

Scooting around on a Laser or a Hobie Cat is just loads of fun.

...and watch where you say things like that! What will Daddy's friends at the club think?
posted by leotrotsky at 7:58 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


desjardins, my canvas bags last a couple of years because they don't look dirty. People's fancy bags look dirty to me all the time.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:58 AM on July 22


OK, if it's true that (1) a well-made purse might be a better value than a cheap purse, and (2) MK and Coach are not well-made purses-- then for all you purse folks in this thread, what are the well-made bag brands?
posted by Bardolph at 7:37 AM on July 22 [+] [!]


I'm far from a fashionista, but I don't think you need to look for any particular brand. In fact, I work on the theory that you're better off buying an obscure brand where you're paying for the actual item, rather than the advertising and the brand cachet.

I look for things like thick, soft leather, well-stitched seams, quality lining, and solid hardware that is firmly attached. Zip and unzip the zippers a few times, to ensure they run smoothly. Look at whether details (like braiding on the straps) is stitched down or glued down. Look at the grain of the leather.

I'm no expert, but you can see when things have been well-made and will hold up well.
posted by Salamander at 7:58 AM on July 22 [7 favorites]


I was discussing this thread with my girlfriend and she pointed out how surprising it is that some folks with such scolding opinions about consumption think it better to buy more products made from petroleum.
posted by coreywilliam at 7:58 AM on July 22 [12 favorites]


I doubt anyone would be making this much of a fuss about someone spending 300 on some new technological gadget, or a 200 dollar meal, or the expensive hiking boots or some artisanal booze. It's kind of gross that that people are being so selectively judgmental

I agree. I was at a work dinner a while back where the bill came to almost $400 per person -- it was fun but buying everyone a purse would have been a lot less frivolous.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:02 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


For those looking for a cute, affordable bone fide preppy bag with longevity... look no further than the Bean Boat and Tote. The traditional one is open-top, but as a purse alternative, a zippered top is preferred.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:03 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


I doubt anyone would be making this much of a fuss about someone spending 300 on some new technological gadget, or a 200 dollar meal, or the expensive hiking boots or some artisanal booze.

Cheap hiking boots can fuck up your feet and ankles (and fail to protect you in bad weather). But if your point is that no one (or very few) needs to go hiking, just like they don't need the latest gadget, then I agree.
posted by desjardins at 8:03 AM on July 22


Ugh a timbuktu messenger bag would be pretty inappropriate in lot of places and has about 0 aesthetic value. Having something that looks nice and is professional looking is important to a lot of people and doesn't equal paying for a name that's utility. Just because you don't care about nice looking things doesn't mean no one does.

Also, being fashionable has value in itself, maybe that's hard to understand for people, like a lot of men, who aren't as frequently judged on their appearance but for a lot of women and in some professions in general looking the part is important. These things aren't solely status symbols, they may be a lot of the time and maybe exclusively for some brands but to make a blanket judgment about it is stupid.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 8:04 AM on July 22 [24 favorites]


Interesting thread.

I have a couple of $200-$300 purses (Rebecca Minkoff - I really like the brand) and I agonised over the purchases for months. And I'm sure it was because I'd internalized a lot of what's being thrown around here, that it's too frivolous, too *feminine* to want a bag that happens to be expensive. In the meantime, I happily spent way more than that on running shoes, sports bras, race entries... but that's for running, which is a more acceptable way to spend your money I guess.

The most ridiculous thing was that I used birthday money for one purchase and part of some prize money (for a scientific paper) for the other, so it wasn't even coming out of the regular budget. But there was still that feeling that I should have been spending the money on something more "worthy".
posted by gaspode at 8:04 AM on July 22 [5 favorites]


I feel like this a derail at this point, Salamander, but to respond to you:
"Certainly, cloth totes and nylon backpacks are bags, as mentioned in your Wikipedia article. But they are neither leather nor handbags"

Totes are handbags per Wikipedia (it's the entry for handbags I quoted) - backpacks are not. The article I quoted did not talk about material at all.

When I said : "The point those people try to make is that leather handbag =/= name brand leather handbag" I took your wording "=/= leather handbag" and that's why "leather" is in there. I meant that a name brand handbag does not equal a well-made handbag and the brands mentioned in the FPP, Michael Kors and Coach, are not known for good quality, well-made handbags. So if someone is defending leather as a material, because it is sturdy or whatever, they don't necessarily need to buy a handbag that has a name on it just to get those qualities. So what are people buying the bags for? The name, apparently.

posted by travelwithcats at 8:05 AM on July 22


You aren't spending three bills for something with any real practical or lasting value. I've had the same $40 timbuk2 messenger that I carry every single day through rain and snow and camping and canoeing and biking for 10 years and I'm sure it will last another 20.

Please tell me the practical value of canoeing

I will wait
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:07 AM on July 22 [36 favorites]


These bags upthread look amazing. Are there other places to buy well-made leather bags without the global luxury branding overhead?

From the men's side, for consideration in the frivolousness competition: certain London shops charge well north of £2,000 for (very nice, made in England) leather attaché-cases. The same price applies to replica dispatch boxes* for those who want to play Yes Minister.

*) oblig. bitter Gainsbourg
posted by ormon nekas at 8:11 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Also aren't timbuk2s way more expensive than $40? I got mine second-hand for ~$40 (bragging in my own way) but normally they're a bill and a half (or more!).
posted by hydrobatidae at 8:13 AM on July 22 [5 favorites]


Not only is women's spending seen to be foolish and wasteful, it's always women who are told they should be spending their money on charity instead.

I was going to say YEAH WHERE'S THIS FRUGAL SPIRIT IN APPLE THREADS but I guess it shows up there too a bit, but it doesn't seem as virulent because it's coming from people spending comparable amounts on the competing OS.

Really though I assume all purse dissenters in this thread use the cheapest melamine dishes from the dollar store in their homes, because hey, they're inexpensive and totally indestructible even after 15 years! I judge people as wanton fashionable spendthrifts if they spend more than $20 on something indispensable for modern life which will receive hard daily use.
posted by elizardbits at 8:13 AM on July 22 [21 favorites]


Are there other places to buy well-made leather bags without the global luxury branding overhead?

There are some sellers on etsy who do really nice work although I can't remember any names offhand. IIRC there have been a few askmes in recent years about it.
posted by elizardbits at 8:14 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


I love these threads where people just throw their lifestyle choices at each other like shurikens. I don't think anyone really wants the whole of Metafilter to show up at their doorstop and scrutinze all their consumer products for some personal measure of fidelity, so maybe chill out a little and let people enjoy their things.
posted by selfnoise at 8:15 AM on July 22 [16 favorites]


Also, being fashionable has value in itself, maybe that's hard to understand for people

Actually part of my point was that I do understand fashion qua fashion, and if that is the justification for a $300 bag, then that is totally fine. Just know that it's a silly sort of meta-narrative situation.

And I don't know - maybe my sense of what is professionally appropriate is truly skewed. I've worked in a professional setting for the past many years but in a city where everyone bikes or takes the train, and so everyone (yes, men and women) has messenger bags and panniers because you aren't going to bike to work in the rain with a $300 handbag, even if you work in a fancy law office. So I guess ymmv.
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:15 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


the bag is $300 because someone with brand recognition slapped their name on the side. You aren't spending three bills for something with any real practical or lasting value.

As I said upthread, women's leather bags where I live cost $250 without any logo slapped on the side. You can choose to disbelieve, but it's true. The 'practical and lasting value' of a bag that costs more than $40 is that something I carry nearly every day looks good and is nice to use. Much like, oh, 90% of what people wear (instead of going to Goodwill and investing in multiple snuggies and calling it done).

I've had the same $40 timbuk2 messenger that I carry every single day through rain and snow and camping and canoeing and biking for 10 years and I'm sure it will last another 20. So if you're looking for a durable, practical and well-made bag for your everyday toting needs, I can direct you to many great bags under $50. The $300 price tag is an arbitrary status signifier.

A logo might be a status signifier, but a price tag isn't. Nobody knows whether my bag cost $20 or $200, to look at it.

As for your timbuk2 bag...it would look frankly ridiculous with my lifestyle and the rest of my clothes, and I would hate using it. You can direct me to many bags that you think are great for under $50, but so what? We clearly have different tastes.
posted by Salamander at 8:15 AM on July 22 [6 favorites]


Maybe this is just my perspective from the middle class, but the middle class aesthetic seems pretty much invisible. It varies in its specifics, but it all leans toward a claim to practicality. A lot of people, especially men, have convinced themselves that the way they dress is motivated entirely by comfort and other practical interests, and they care not one single whit about class markers. Some will even claim they don't care about how they look. And there's always an undercurrent of judgment against those they perceive as caring. They're silly and frivolous and only concerned with appearances, which is why they'll wear clothing with overt logos, in flashy colors, etc.

And it is almost never true. There is a very distinct middle class aesthetic, and I have it, so I'm not you-guysing on this. I have actually had people get mad at me for saying this, so I'm a little preemptively defensive right now.

I'd love to see some kind of study that would show how much more people would pay for products that fit that 'purely practical' middle class aesthetic vs. those that don't. So how much more would a middle class man who claims to be purely practical pay for a black or gray cellphone vs. one in pink or Tiffany blue? How much more would you pay for the same purse in an understated color with no logos vs. one with candy-colored logos all over it? (Answer for me: A lot. I would pay a lot more.)

Lots of people think they don't notice or care about class and status markers, but it's almost never true.
posted by ernielundquist at 8:17 AM on July 22 [40 favorites]


What a surprisingly contentious thread.

I've carried a pocketbook (I'm southern, that's what some of us call them down here) since I was approximately nine years old. That one was pink corduroy with a lavender heart covered interior. I loved it. Many of my purses in middle school/high school I could fold into my backpack, so we could stash backpacks in the locker (or at private school, in the day room) and go off campus for lunch with our tiny cross-over shoulder bags (a total thing in 1990), or hippie tapestry patchwork bags (c. 1991-92) or tough-looking, recycled black upholstery vinyl punk rock bags (1993-94).

My grandmother gave me my first Coach purse when I was seventeen. I hated it at the time because it was what the girls with the twin sets and the nose jobs carried and I was into riot grrrl, but whatever. I actually started carrying that Coach purse after college when I first worked in an office. It held up beautifully. I finally sold it for $5 at a garage sale in the early 00s.

I have a lot of pocketbooks. Some of them are great boxy things that I bought at the thrift store and some of them are this magnificent little evening bags that I've bought at very fancy vintage stores and some of them are basically impulse purchases from cheap boutiques (cute bags that last about a season at best, but really great if you want to get in on whatever bizarro-shape/color trend and don't want to drop $200. Most of those bags, FYI, are not leather and functionally vegan--though more on that later). I have some of my favorite bags hanging on the wall behind my bedroom door. They look good with my similarly impractical vintage hat collection.

My every day bags are less interesting, and frankly, much more expensive. I require a pocketbook that is large enough to hold at least one trade paperback, a small note book, my phone, my keys, several pens, at least a small bottle of water, my wallet, my businesscards, an umbrella and a cardigan sweater. I travel a lot and walk mostly everywhere. It needs to sit comfortable on my shoulder. It also needs to be decent to look at, in a color that can go a lot of places with my wardrobe and not have a lot of exterior branding (I'm of the opinion that people should pay me to show off their logos and not the other way around. Of course, I also work in advertising). Also that bag needs to last for a while, because I don't want to have to drop $300 on a pocketbook every year (I already pretty much have to do that with boots). I'm hard on bags. I put them on the ground. I use them in the weather. I literally take a purse every single time I leave the house, except for the rare occasion when I can just run out with my wallet (which is the best wallet ever, if you must know, because it can double as a clutch and it lasts forever).

Are my pocketbooks luxury items? Sure, I guess. But I have yet to understand the point of shelling out 400+ for an iPad (especially if you already have a computer and a smartphone). I don't have particularly expensive hobbies, except perhaps records and cooking, so I don't have extremely expensive sports equipment or a fancy stereo or some crazy garden set-up or basically anything that could rightly be considered top of the line or high tech. Metafilter is, generally, not all "First against the wall come the revolution" for you and your fancy mountain bike or your fancy camera or your fancy car or your brand new gaming system (which, by the by, costs at least as much as what I pay for a new everyday pocketbook). It does feel a little bit gendered.

As someone pointed out upthread, handbags (and to a lesser degree shoes) are a way that women (and men!) who don't conform to the very narrow body type required for high fashion can have a little high fashion fun. It doesn't matter if you're short, tall, fat, skinny, apple shaped, pear-shaped or orange shaped, you can rock the hell out of, say, this wonderful thing
so long as you have the clams to do it (note: at least $600 out of my price range, but I love it). For most people that carry them, pocketbooks are functional and they're fashionable. So, they're expensive. So are lots of things. No one (I don't think) will ever force you to spend your money on a handbag if you don't want to.

> Does no one make a fancy non-leather bag? Something not made of animal that all the luxury spenders will want to show off?

Kate Spade usually has vegan bags in her seasonal collections, though they are not always strictly advertised that way. They're not exactly Saint-Laurent, but if you're not so worried about the brand name these guys make beautiful vegan bags if you're looking for something mid-priced and stylish with a nice color palette. I have a emerald green one that I bought a couple years back that I carry all the time the summer. It's held up remarkably well.
posted by thivaia at 8:17 AM on July 22 [14 favorites]


travelwithcats, cool - I think we were talking past each other, and judging from your last paragraph, I completely agree with you. And I'm embarrassed now because I don't know how to make writing small, sorry :(
posted by Salamander at 8:18 AM on July 22


Please tell me the practical value of canoeing

What other way is there to get furs to market, through rapids, tough portages and flood?
posted by bonehead at 8:18 AM on July 22 [32 favorites]


Nobody knows whether my bag cost $20 or $200, to look at it.

But like...isn't the point of having one of the ubiquitous Kors or Coach bags precisely because people know how much it costs? I'm not saying this is the case with your particular bag, but certainly a huge part of the fashion game is simply that the brands are recognizable and people are aware of what you spent on it.

And tastes, sure. Like I said - I'm not hating on anyone for their taste. I have spent stupid amounts of money on stupid things too just because of so-called taste. I'm just saying let's call spades spades.
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:19 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Anyway if you want to get really mad / puff yourself up with your relative practicality, check out this blazer. I buy a few for my kid every year. Or something. I don't know. Ask their mother to ask the nanny.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:19 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I just realized that I've definitely spent more on bags as a gift for my husband than I have on myself: 511 Tactical messenger bags (and bag packs) are rugged, practical, and hilariously expensive. (His Timbuk2 fought the good fight but it was in shreds after 5 years.) I put my money in expensive shoes and jeans when I can afford to, but I had to reject a pair of MK pumps in Nordstroms last week because the lining was exposed around the seams and the sole was mangled near the heel. Granted, they were $98, so not really top of the luxury line, but still: they were basically pre-broken.

I usually carry around a Stone Mountain bag found on eBay (shoutout to my mom there), where they crop up often-- it's not at all fashion forward, just a regular bog standard black purse, but the leather is thick and nice, the zippers are everywhere and they're sturdy, it's big enough for a paperback, and I can take it pretty much everywhere. I have variants in three colors and sizes and they're all pretty nice. I hate carrying messenger bags with a passion and yeah, sorry, Timbuk2 bags have not been professional wear in most of places I've been- understandable for commuter wear, but not for every purpose.
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:21 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


The $300 price tag is an arbitrary status signifier.

But this is just how the world works and just because it is arbitrary doesn't necessarily make it unimportant. Aren't there parallels between choosing a handbag and choosing a university/community college? The rules may be arbitrary, but it's hard to deny there is utility in cultivating an image of success.
posted by quosimosaur at 8:21 AM on July 22


But like...isn't the point of having one of the ubiquitous Kors or Coach bags precisely because people know how much it costs?

It can be *a* point, please don't assume for all people it is THE point.
posted by ersatzkat at 8:22 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


My goal of reading this thread to find recommendations for my next purse hunt has already worked out for me and it's been less than half an hour.

And, no, the point for me of buying a Coach isn't brand brag. It's that it reliably hits a point of acceptable price on sale and minimal quality for my use plus ernielundquist's well-taken point about middle-class aesthetic. If you've read this thread, you should get that Coach isn't a brag brand now.
posted by immlass at 8:23 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Are there other places to buy well-made leather bags without the global luxury branding overhead?

Piel bags are what I usually see in recommendation threads. I've had good luck with Le Donne totes.
posted by almostmanda at 8:24 AM on July 22 [6 favorites]


So, for funsies, I just googled Hermes and went to their website and found this link for "I am a horse".

I don't even know anymore.
posted by jillithd at 8:24 AM on July 22 [25 favorites]


Is there the equivalent of an Allen Edmonds for bags, for instance, where you can still use the one you bought in 1986 and it looks better than ever? For the non-trend-conscious person who still wants a functional bag, are there reliably good brands to pick up used on Ebay?

Bardolph, I wish there were an alternative. I've been looking around for ages and have found very little between this kind of consumer driven mass market and limited-run artisanal brands. It's very likely that any brand that produced that sort of quality in the past and built a reputation on it is now subject to the same market pressures that force competition with the Coaches and Michael Kors of the world.

I'm kind of depressed in reading this thread that there's so much overpriced crap out there nowadays that people genuinely can't seem to tell the difference between something that is of genuine quality and worth €300 and something that just happened to cost that much because it has a big name slapped on it. Same goes for Lutoslawski's Ray-Bans - they simply can't compare to the equivalent in no-name hand made eyewear that you can get for about the same price if you look around.

I name-checked the atelier where I bought my bag not because I want to brag, but because I think the people who made it deserve a shout out for providing an authentic alternative to the mass-produced so-called luxury equivalent which carries a hefty mark-up and falls short on quality. For what it's worth, that's the most I've spent on a bag by quite some margin, but compared to the equivalent you'd find from the bigger brands, I think it is a beautiful and functional object, which, while expensive, is a superior product in terms of materials and construction.

So yeah. I make no bones about it. I do think that Sam Vimes' boot theory holds true for a good handbag, and while I don't consider myself particularly wealthy I'm not averse to going the extra mile for nice kit when I think it's worth the money. And if I were looking elsewhere for that kind of quality with less of a "fashion" design component I'd probably be looking for a saddle maker. Which, curiously enough, was how Hermes started.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 8:25 AM on July 22 [8 favorites]


But like...isn't the point of having one of the ubiquitous Kors or Coach bags precisely because people know how much it costs? I'm not saying this is the case with your particular bag, but certainly a huge part of the fashion game is simply that the brands are recognizable and people are aware of what you spent on it.

Sorry, I forgot the thread had moved on so much - my bag is *not* Kors or Coach, nor have I ever owned a 'famous-logo' bag. I was arguing against the people who were saying it's insane to ever drop 2 or 300 on a handbag, period.

I agree with you that people often buy name-brand bags with conspicuous logos because they want everyone to know how much they spent. Or maybe they just like them, who knows. I actually don't like the style of them, logo or no, so I don't buy them.
posted by Salamander at 8:25 AM on July 22


I don't have many nice things, but I like nice things. I just don't want to pay for them (can't afford to anyway). I just got a pair of Bally shoes for $50 in a consignment shop, and was gifted a vintage Omega watch.

I have felt guilt about wanting a Mulberry bag. And guilt for looking at handbags A LOT on those few occasions I go to the shop. I ended up buying a compromise bag as asked on AskMe a few years back. It's a beautiful beautiful bag, but I don't use it enough. Things ought to be used. I'm pulling it out tonight, thanks MeFi.
posted by wingless_angel at 8:29 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


desjardins: "I don't understand what y'all are doing to your bags, even the cheap ones, that they only last 6 months. ... What are you guys doing? Running them over with your car?"

I don't knooooooooow! I can maintain coats and shoes for YEARS but I am just a jerk to purses, and I don't know why! I think a big thing is overloading them, especially cheaper ones, but I'm pretty conscious about NOT doing that since I started having back trouble ... but even so, I am just hell on purses. I now accept it and just try to mitigate the damage. :P

(And yes, I have been loving lots of the purse links in this thread. OMG those monster purses, and that spanish atelier, love! MOAR PLEASE.)

Lutoslawski: " you aren't going to bike to work in the rain with a $300 handbag, even if you work in a fancy law office. So I guess ymmv."

I don't live in a fashiony place, but in a pretty legal-market-conservative place, where one of the courts I'm admitted to still requires skirt suits on women and will not allow women in pantsuits to address the court ... so it's pretty much briefcases, briefbags, and purses, in very conservative styles, in leather. My husband (also a lawyer) biked to work with his leather briefcase and just put it IN his panniers or strapped it to his carry rack when he needed to go to court ... it's nice leather so it holds up to the rain, you know?

You do see more black nylon brief bags and computer bags these days, but those are almost ALL rolling ones and everyone carries their own hand-carry briefcase as well ... it seems sort of like, Okay, you can have nylon IF it's clear that's only your backup/paperwork overflow bag. Having ONLY a nylon bag screams "Junior associate carrying it for a partner who agreed I could come and watch" (Of course, a brand new shiny briefcase also screams "recently hired, not good at court yet" but, ya know, we're all new at some point.)

When I didn't carry a daily purse, I still had a nice black leather handbag for interviews/court/that sort of thing.

Lutoslawski: "But like...isn't the point of having one of the ubiquitous Kors or Coach bags precisely because people know how much it costs?"

Most people in this thread who have talked about logos and branding prefer bags without logos.

If a purse is sufficiently cute and suits me I will overlook small external logos, but, no, I do not want an external logo, and I do not want to advertise what brand of purse I am carrying. (The stupid logo linings are all over the place now, but whatever, I can live with it if it's not visible from the outside.) I will, however, discuss the "brand" with other women when we talk about purses so we can talk about what brands hold up and don't and wear well and don't and are cute and aren't so I know what I want to buy!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:29 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


I'd love to see some kind of study that would show how much more people would pay for products that fit that 'purely practical' middle class aesthetic vs. those that don't.

The Filson catalog gives a hint of how much men will pay for that exact pseudo-utilitarian aesthetic. And they sell man bags, to boot.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:30 AM on July 22 [8 favorites]


But like...isn't the point of having one of the ubiquitous Kors or Coach bags precisely because people know how much it costs?

And? You specifically told us how much your bag costs. Why? Humans are social creatures who do things for social reasons. That includes you.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:30 AM on July 22 [5 favorites]


The past few years, I've been looking for The Right Bag. Something that reads as feminine, is just big enough for my 13” laptop, enough interior pockets to hold wallet, keys, phone, several writing/drawing implements, and my Wacom stylus. And possibly the laptop charger but really I only need that for multi day trips any more because Air. And of course it's got to fit with my "inappropriately sexy maiden aunt" style, which means I'll never be caught dead carrying this year's It Bag.

It has begun to feel like an impossible quest that is probably going to end when I hunt down someone to make a custom bag for me. Especially because when I find something that's close to right but has a red interior, which makes my laptop whimper in pain because it is kind of allergic to red yes I am possibly insane.

I am pretty sure it will cost me several hundred dollars for materials and workmanship. At this point I'm more than willing to pay half a month's rent just so I can quit looking for bags.
posted by egypturnash at 8:36 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


I usually buy bags overseas, because you just get nothing for your money in Aus. Most recently (last week) in Indonesia: beautiful, soft, hand-tooled leather with a silk lining, in exactly the deep chocolate-brown colour I wanted, with subtle dull-brass hardware. It cost $70, because it is no-brand, and therefore the consumer isn't paying for a swanky storefront or for marketing/advertising campaigns - just the leather and craftsmanship.

(And I probably could have got it for considerably less, but I hate bargaining, and was happy to just pay the price he asked for so we could both feel like we got a great deal.)
posted by Salamander at 8:37 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


Also this thread is making miss my beloved canary yellow Noa Noa purse, which I got in high school in Italy because it was the holiday saldi and I was young and silly and also really needed a large bag to hold a Nikon 70/300 lens. It was expensive and gorgeous and it held up for YEARS despite being used for literally everything (dragged around ruins and DC's metro and grocery shopping). I still have it somewhere, but the cost of repairing something made ten years ago in canary yellow leather has always been prohibitive. Some day I'll find your equal, o yellow purse.
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:37 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Yeah, and for the record, I certainly don't have issues with dropping a good amount of cash on something that is valuable to you - be it for its quality and aesthetics or even for its brand recognition (c.f. my comment about my own stupid and expensive Ray-Bans, which I fear folks just skipped over because they like to yell at people). If you want to spend money on a nice bag that you like for any reasons whatsoever, I'm not at all saying there is a problem with that. I was simply pointing out that I don't think it's great to say, "oh, because this Kors bag is popular and $300 then it must be a very good bag indeed," and pretend like you were buying a Kors bag for reasons beyond its sort of trend currency.

My point about my own timbuk2 bag (and hell, they are kind of ugly aren't they? But whatever, I kind of like them) is that if you were merely looking for a very practical, very lasting bag, very good quality thing that carried all of your stuff well, $300 is silly.
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:39 AM on July 22


I can't remember the title of a book I read about this; it was (very very obviously) published right before the big crash, but it talked about Coach (for example; there was also a golf club manufacturer) applying a very simple strategy:

* Make a product that is slightly higher quality than 'average'.
* Mark it up a lot.
* Now people can tell themselves they are buying it 'for the high quality'.

I guess the point is that this isn't unique to fashion or handbags or whatever; we're probably all vulnerable to this in different ways. (Technology, sporting goods, &c.)
posted by Comrade_robot at 8:39 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


I am a horse

I know somebody who worked on this campaign.

Hermes pays its artists very well. Well enough to overlook a delirious man horse-centric campaign.
posted by The Whelk at 8:40 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


And? You specifically told us how much your bag costs. Why? Humans are social creatures who do things for social reasons. That includes you.

Was about to counter that digital socializing doesn't carry this visual/possession baggage and realized just how many camouflage patterns I have in Planetside. There's a sub-fusk grouping for operations on various continents which makes sense but then there's also another, showier grouping to advertise that I belong to digital tribe [S0VU] worn when faffing about off hours.

To say nothing of helmets, titles, tags, cosmetic vehicle add ons, and all manner of things that you can find in just about every multiplayer game now from Halo and World of Tanks through to World of Warcraft and WildStar. There's a subset of people who just don't give a flying fuck and parade about in vanilla, stock everythings. But there's a growing set of people who love knowing that on your deathscreen you get to see me in a bumblebee visor with the most eye-grating combination of teal and black streaking across my spandex armor.
posted by Slackermagee at 8:40 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


And certainly if your work culture requires a certain aesthetic, conforming can be necessary (and leather brief cases are cool and if I had an excuse to get one I'm sure I'd be happy about it!). Like I said, ymmv.
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:42 AM on July 22


egypturnash: "The past few years, I've been looking for The Right Bag ... "

I give you the Laptop Totes section at ebags. You can sort by laptop size, even.

(KathrynT and I were talking last week about ebags love, they have very good customer service and take GREAT PICTURES of the interior pockets of bags which makes shopping for bags online way easier.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:43 AM on July 22 [9 favorites]


Is there a bag that transcends both class anxiety and economic constraints and is nonetheless 'cool' in the sense of being smart and eye-catching and contemporary and tasteful and well-designed and well-made?

Well, I love my Duluth Trading Company leather tote bag. It's solidly-made, of pretty heavy leather, with a zipper across the top, straps long enough to carry on my shoulder, two outside pockets big enough to hold keys/cellphone, and a zipped inside pocket. It was $150 last fall, and has no noticeable logo on it. I can fit lunch, a book, and a pair of shoes in it along with my wallet, and can even smush groceries into it if I forget a shopping bag. It's hella sturdy, and the red leather is wearing really nicely: I love having a bag with some wear on it.

The down side is there aren't enough inside pockets, but on the other hand I can fit more inside this way. And it looks a lot more professional than the CourierWare bag I was carrying for years--those are awesome sturdy messenger bags, but they don't look all that professional for a mid-level bureaucrat.

My hope is that I'll be able to carry this bag for at least five years, which brings the price down to $30/year, definitely within the Sam Vimes category of worthwhile expense.
posted by suelac at 8:45 AM on July 22 [7 favorites]


I was simply pointing out that I don't think it's great to say, "oh, because this Kors bag is popular and $300 then it must be a very good bag indeed," and pretend like you were buying a Kors bag for reasons beyond it's sort of trend currency.

The thing is that you're posturing as though other people are pretending and/or deluded and you're not. For one, people typically don't like being told they're pretending / posturing / deluded / ignorant. It might be true. However, since we're all pretty deluded about these kinds of things, you specifying one specific thing as particularly wrong / grating / delusional, just because it happens to be something you don't do, is really sort of smug and insulting. Which is why people are reacting. Not just because they like to yell at people (although yelling at people can be fun).
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:46 AM on July 22 [6 favorites]


I was simply pointing out that I don't think it's great to say, "oh, because this Kors bag is popular and $300 then it must be a very good bag indeed," and pretend like you were buying a Kors bag for reasons beyond its sort of trend currency.

I wouldn't even argue with this. I suspect there's a lot of people out there like me, though, who have a list of brands that they expect xyz out of and those are okay to buy--though obviously a bad quality experience or a price change can knock a brand off the list. If you're only sorta interested in fashion, moderate-fashionable brands in your price/quality range, whatever that is, makes your decision a lot easier when it comes time to buy. This is particularly important if you're buying online and returns may not be as easy as, say, Zappo's makes them.

It would be nice if you could buy one bag and use it forever, but unfortunately that's on the long list of things women get judged on. Judged for buying fashion and judged for being out of fashion: it's not a winning proposition.
posted by immlass at 8:50 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


maybe chill out a little and let people enjoy their things

I'm not sure I'm comfortable with this lifestyle choice.
posted by elizardbits at 8:51 AM on July 22 [15 favorites]


I think there may be a disconnect between women who live in large, car-optional cities and women who don't. Everyone I know with a car keeps all kinds of pretty essential shit in there, but living as I do in NYC, I can't do that. I may be away from home for 18 hours at a time, and all I have with me in the world is in my purse. I carry it for dozens of blocks at a time in all weather, I keep my lunch and my books and an umbrella and sometimes shoes or a change of clothes in it. It holds much more weight for much longer periods of time than the average purse of a non-city-dwelling car owner.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:51 AM on July 22 [30 favorites]


... so are RPG books.

As are the Kindle and iPod I mentioned. (Though the Kindle was a refurb version of the first Kindle Fire I bought when the second version came out, and the iPod was a scratched secondhand 160GB iPod classic from eBay.)

My particular thing right now is music production gear. I don't spend nearly as much as some do on it, but I'm fully aware that I didn't need that $175 fuzz pedal I bought recently.

I'm not particularly against luxury goods per se.

I am depressed/infuriated/bemused by the kind of "you must spend $X to conform, you must wear Y and Z and W and carry Q and it has to be in one of these specifically approved colors" sort of environments people have described here. It's a barrier to entry and a show of authority of the system over individual expression.

But mostly I am irritated by claims that items which just happen to be status symbols (regardless of the buyer's reasons for wanting it) are "necessities" and that the buyer "can't afford" a less expensive alternative which works for millions of other people. It's classist. Like maybe someone should start a charity providing Coach bags for underpriveleged women.
posted by Foosnark at 8:52 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


I think that a lot of Michael Kors' popularity comes from the fact that he was on Project Runway, plus his ascent came at about the same time that Tommy Hilfiger was declining in popularity.

I tend to buy nylon bags. I love Le Pliage by Longchamp because I worry less about destroying it than I would with a fancy leather bag, it fits everything, it folds up so it's great for travel, and it goes with everything. I was looking at the Michael Kors Kempton line because I thought they had a similar aesthetic but the reviews have been underwhelming. So I'm inclined to stick with Le Pliage. I can throw gym clothes, groceries, a salad, etc. in there no problem.

For those looking for a simple laptop tote, have you considered Lo and Sons? The TT or the Brookline may meet your needs. I love the thing on the back that allows you to slip it on top of a rolling bag. They're expensive but they have sales.
posted by kat518 at 8:55 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


In the past couple years, higher-end Coach stores have moved away from the terrible, terrible logo-drenched fabric ridiculousness of the early 00's.

Like, the leather might not be quite as good as the actual original my mom has, but damn, a wall of these is classy stuff.
posted by joyceanmachine at 8:57 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Foosnark: "Like maybe someone should start a charity providing Coach bags for underpriveleged women."

You know there are charities that provide professional clothing for underprivileged women, right? Often including purses.

I mean, mock if you want, but when I clean out my closet of businessy things, that's the kind of charity it all goes to. And the prom Cinderella charity did really well off me a couple years ago when I cleared out all my old cocktail and formal dresses and sparkly shoes. I hope that helped several girls wear something that made them feel pretty to prom.

Classism is bad, but it's not going to end just because I think it's bad, so at least by donating items to charities that help lower-income women decode the hidden rules of "professional dress" and acquire some of the more expensive items to meet that dress code, I'm helping reduce the barrier at least a little.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:00 AM on July 22 [26 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee > I give you the Laptop Totes section at eBags.

Haha yeah been there, that's where I found about the Clark & Mayfield vertical bag I'm currently using half the year. It's close enough to the Right Bag that my quest has mostly ended. Except for wanting something lighter-weight and possibly horizontal for the summer. I shall wander the earth for all eternity questing for the Right Bag.
posted by egypturnash at 9:00 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


What's a good canoe cost?
posted by shakespeherian at 9:03 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


I think that a lot of Michael Kors' popularity comes from the fact that he was on Project Runway

And he wears the same thing every episode! For a designer, the guy seems fashion averse.
posted by malocchio at 9:04 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


shakespeherian: I found a plastic one at Wal Mart for $30 and it seemed perfectly fine. No holes or anything like that. Plenty of room for my legs. Suggesting someone would want something better is pretty classist.
posted by coreywilliam at 9:07 AM on July 22 [5 favorites]


What's a good canoe cost?

who cares not me when I go canoeing I row around in a plastic box I got at the Salvation Army five years ago with a broom for an oar works just fine
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:09 AM on July 22 [53 favorites]


who cares not me when I go canoeing I row around in a plastic box I got at the Salvation Army five years ago with a broom for an oar works just fine

What the hell is wrong with you wasting all that money, you don't need a canoe or a paddle, people are buoyant, you can just swim.
posted by jeather at 9:11 AM on July 22 [21 favorites]


There are people in the US who cannot afford water. A damned $200 bag Kindle is a luxury. It may not be luxury to the fashion tech world, but the fashion tech world itself pretty much defines luxury.
posted by maryr at 9:13 AM on July 22 [10 favorites]


I used to have a lot of antipathy toward designer purses and shouted about conspicuous consumption or sheeple or whatever, but then I got a real job and my Tokidoki-printed LeSportSac wasn't really work-appropriate. So I researched for a while and bought myself a Coach bag (in a pretty blue and with so many pockets!) and was pleased with it until this thread made me feel bad about myself. Thanks, Metafilter. Even when I buy a "nice" thing, it's the WRONG nice thing. Where is the instruction manual for being a classy grownup lady?
posted by leesh at 9:14 AM on July 22 [7 favorites]


Fendi is very much back in fashion's good graces with the recent peekaboo range, particularly with their perplexing peekaboo monsters.

Nice to see Senketsu's still getting some work now that Kill La Kill has finished.
posted by maryr at 9:16 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


leesh I am so so with you right now. Here I was trying to work up the courage to actually use my Coach bag and now I find out that yep, wrong.

So which is it really, people here who know (and I swear I am being clueless and not snarky): buy what you like, or buy what you like so long as you avoid brands/labels that are currently out of fashion (as opposed to never in it to begin with)?
posted by Mchelly at 9:18 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


But mostly I am irritated by claims that items which just happen to be status symbols (regardless of the buyer's reasons for wanting it) are "necessities" and that the buyer "can't afford" a less expensive alternative which works for millions of other people. It's classist. Like maybe someone should start a charity providing Coach bags for underpriveleged women.
posted by Foosnark at 8:52 AM on July 22 [+] [!]


I made the comment that I 'can't afford' to buy cheap bags. And if you had read the context, you would have seen that a) I do not buy designer bags either, Coach/Kors or otherwise, and b) I meant that I 'cannot afford' to buy multiple cheaper handbags because they'll actually add up to more than the relatively expensive no-name bag I used FOR EIGHT YEARS.
posted by Salamander at 9:19 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


you can just swim

this whole conversation is pretty insensitive since people can't afford overpriced water being sold to them by a predatory city utility vendor that expects its low income customers to pick up the slack from the wealthy customers who have had their bills forgiven and continue to have uninterrupted service

wait what do you mean it's not really a comparable situation
posted by elizardbits at 9:19 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


I kind of think of fashion like I think of music. Some people are just like "fuck it, I like what I like," some people chase the latest trends and like to be on top of what's cool, some people like to dig really deep into music criticism and perhaps disdain the more popular stuff, some people think everything produced in the last 30 years is garbage, and some people just plain don't care for music. All of those people get to exist!

So if you have a Coach bag or a bag you got at Target 5 years ago, and you like it, awesome. You won't impress the people who are on top of the latest trends, but they're not the only people in the world. It takes all kinds. Fuck it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:21 AM on July 22 [12 favorites]


this whole conversation is pretty insensitive since people can't afford overpriced water being sold to them by a predatory city utility vendor

If you wanted to have drinking water you should have thought of that before you were born poor and decided to live in an overpriced designer handbag.
posted by jeather at 9:24 AM on July 22 [6 favorites]


They have shoes for that.
posted by maryr at 9:25 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


Mchelly, apparently it's 'buy what you like unless you are female in which case why didn't you just buy something made entirely of nylon and Velcro and wear it for 43 years with your Teva sandals and quick-dry t-shirt you stupid classist bimbo'.
posted by Salamander at 9:25 AM on July 22 [52 favorites]


So I researched for a while and bought myself a Coach bag (in a pretty blue and with so many pockets!) and was pleased with it until this thread made me feel bad about myself.

No, don't! I have a friend who has several Coach bags like that (possibly the same one but they do a lot of blue bags) and they're really lovely. I think they hold up well and they look nice; yours sounds very professional.

I have a Tokidoki Alice in Wonderland LeSportsac bag and it's the best bag ever and I too am really sad I can't use it for everything.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:25 AM on July 22 [6 favorites]


Re: this episode of "Sex and the City," it did not end with Carrie accepting the money from Mr. Big. Charlotte was trying to decide what to do with her wedding ring after her marriage fell apart and with the divorce settlement, she took a volunteer job while Carrie struggled to figure out how to pay for her place. In the end, Charlotte gave Carrie her ring so Carrie could afford the down payment (source).

I'm not proud of myself for remembering that but it was a sweet moment on the show - from the ashes of Charlotte's divorce, Carrie could have a fresh start in her new place.
posted by kat518 at 9:25 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


But mostly I am irritated by claims that items which just happen to be status symbols (regardless of the buyer's reasons for wanting it) are "necessities" and that the buyer "can't afford" a less expensive alternative which works for millions of other people.

Yeah, God, it's like something is causing women to be defensive about how they spend their money. It might be the insinuation that we're brainwashed or stupid when we buy anything that isn't a $20 nylon messenger bag to keep our things in.
posted by almostmanda at 9:26 AM on July 22 [25 favorites]


If you wanted to have drinking water you should have thought of that before you were born poor and decided to live in an overpriced designer handbag.

To be born, or at any rate bred in a handbag, whether it have handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life which reminds one of the worst excesses of the French revolution, and I presume you know what that unfortunate movement led to?
posted by Mchelly at 9:27 AM on July 22 [9 favorites]


this whole conversation is pretty insensitive since people can't afford overpriced water being sold to them by a predatory city utility vendor

I can't believe no one has mentioned this but I get all my water at the Salvation Army by buying used drinking glasses that haven't been properly dried
posted by shakespeherian at 9:28 AM on July 22 [23 favorites]


Mchelly, apparently it's 'buy what you like unless you are female in which case why didn't you just buy something made entirely of nylon and Velcro and wear it for 43 years with your Teva sandals and quick-dry t-shirt you stupid classist bimbo'.
Nope, sorry. The people who look down on Coach are generally the people who think that you should buy other, more tasteful $300 (or much more) handbags. They think you both have to spend a lot of money and have to be in the know.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:28 AM on July 22


My best friend tends to keep all of her credit and debit cards, ID, etc. in a pouch of some sort so I felt like a rad friend when I got her a Coach wristlet for Christmas from the outlet. She had it with her last time we hung out and I felt proud. I don't care whether it's in style or not and thankfully she doesn't either - she uses it because it meets her needs and bonus, it's attractive. People joke about how Le Pliage from Longchamp is out of fashion but whatever, it works for me. Haters are gonna hate. I'm going to hide an entire yoga mat, change of clothes, and a book in my enormous bag.
posted by kat518 at 9:29 AM on July 22


That $20 nylon messenger bag isn't very feminine. You should be more lady-like if you really want to influence anyone.
posted by maryr at 9:29 AM on July 22 [8 favorites]


I am a man with a 12 year old Coach tote that I bought used for $110 and everyone loves it and notices it much more than my $160 Timbuktu bag with custom metal clasps and TSA-friendly laptop compartment. Carrying things in your pockets is the worst! I'm not sure where this puts me, class-wise.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:30 AM on July 22 [5 favorites]


oh damn this lo & sons bag is severely tempting me for the Lightweight Summer Lappy And Wacom Bag I've been looking for, thanks kat518!
posted by egypturnash at 9:33 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


I'm going to hide an entire yoga mat, change of clothes, and a book in my enormous bag.

Yes. I laugh at you mere wallet-carriers when it starts to rain and I pull an automatic opening/retractable umbrella out of my bag and keep walking past you, you walk so damn slow. It's getting a bit chilly, good thing I have a sweater in here too.

What's that? You need a pen? What color, I HAVE EIGHT. *mike drop, because that would also totally fit in my purse*

On preview: You're a good man, oceanjesse.
posted by maryr at 9:35 AM on July 22 [19 favorites]


I think the Longchamp Le Pliage bags are fashion-proof workhorses. I think the logo-less classic Coach bags fall in that category, too.

(Said by a person carrying to the office a conference swag beachy print tote bag courtesy of Microsoft Research)
posted by needled at 9:35 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


I was discussing this thread with my girlfriend and she pointed out how surprising it is that some folks with such scolding opinions about consumption think it better to buy more products made from petroleum.

If the leather is not from grass fed cattle, it's also made of petroleum. (See recent articles on high use of petroleum in livestock farming).

Sadly, everything we all use is embedded in a petroleum based economy. The only way to really reduce your footprint in purchasing consumer goods is to buy used, which also reduces landfill. But, obviously, this reduces the selection and sometimes the quality of goods available.
posted by jb at 9:37 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


I would also argue that neither Michael Kors nor Coach are truly luxury brands; they are middle class or "nice" brands.

I agree. But Coach is like an entry level "good" brand-- as in, it is quality and not disposable. I received a men's Coach wallet as a gift more than 10 years ago, and it is still in one piece. My father was used to buying a new wallet every year until I bought him a Coach wallet, and he loves it. It's not a Louis Vuitton wallet, and it's not a Smythson wallet. But it is something good and solid.

Coach is (was?) like the Allen Edmonds of leather goods: not super exclusive, but well made high quality goods. That's not "luxury"-- that's what you should have been buying in the first place. But I assume that such a product line isn't a growth market that investors demand.
posted by deanc at 9:40 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


I have seven Coach bags (I think), two Coach umbrellas, two pairs of gloves, one scarf, one pair of sunglasses and an assortment of wristlets, key chains and whatnots. I love Coach because it has my initial all over it. I love that. I also got tired of buying cheap purses that wouldn't last a year. My main Coach bag has been everywhere for the past five years, I bought it for $100 on sale and it still looks great. Same with the umbrellas - they just don't quit after years of use. Maybe it's not that luxurious a brand, but Coach is definitely at the intersection of style and quality for me :D I am not a brand loyal person at all, but that one brown bag was the start of my Coach obsession :D
posted by Calzephyr at 9:42 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I actually have three Coach bags: One kind of beachy looking tote that is sadly dated looking and another soft maroon thing that I cherish. But the last Coach bag I ever bought like 7 years ago was a black and white monogrammed thing as a birthday present for my mom. Her response was "That's a young person's bag! I don't want it, you wear it." But I don't want it because I think it looks like a Mom Bag. Can't win.
posted by like_neon at 9:45 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Nope, sorry. The people who look down on Coach are generally the people who think that you should buy other, more tasteful $300 (or much more) handbags. They think you both have to spend a lot of money and have to be in the know.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:28 AM on July 22 [+] [!]

Nope, sorry back atcha. The people who are looking down on Coach in this thread are generally men who think you should buy something way cheaper than Coach (or, in fact, any leather women's handbag), regardless of whether it suits your needs or lifestyle, because they do.
posted by Salamander at 9:52 AM on July 22 [6 favorites]


Classism is like any other sort of privilege: no one is asking you not to purchase this stuff, but to recognise that both the ability to buy these products is a privilege -- and the requirement to purchase expensive clothes and accessories to "appear professional" is privilege perpetuating itself.

Recognising something as a luxury doesn't mean that it's worthless. My iPod, my computer, my phone - all of these things are luxuries. I broke my beloved ereader - and I have gone without another for the past year because it was a luxury. I loved it, but it wasn't necessary.

It's when someone starts to insist, "but it's necessary, no one could get by without this," that others object.

The fact that luxuries like this have become virtual necessities for women in certain professions/jobs the kind of classism that we should fight against -- just like we would all decry anyone insisting that a woman should straighten her hair to appear "professional".
posted by jb at 9:52 AM on July 22 [9 favorites]


Even as a person who likes clothes and enjoys fashion, I feel that statements like this are pretty much baiting violent communist revolution.

My point is tat you cannot MAKE small leather goofs for less unless they are sewn in developing countries. Everyone in this thread patting themselves on the back for not being a sucker consider that. I carry a low end leather bag I bought in Italy, made by an Italian. It's "slouchy and buttery" as described above. It cost $200, I'm comfortable with its provenance and it's already lasted 5 years with nary a mark on it.

Cheap, disposable fashion accessories made by slave labor are the problem. Not people willing to part with some cash for lasting quality from a brand with a good reputation for how it treats its employees.
posted by fshgrl at 9:52 AM on July 22 [14 favorites]


The people who look down on Coach are generally the people who think that you should buy other, more tasteful $300 (or much more) handbags.

I think there's some of that, but I also think it's fair to be annoyed at brands that are upselling mediocre goods that trade on their good name and past standards to people, often younger women, who are trying very hard to find something of quality that's also fashionable. (I do think Coach is still a good place for nice, professional leather bags, as mentioned above.) I'm seriously annoyed at the quality of the Michael Kors shoes that I tried on, because they were just very poorly made, for a hundred bucks. No logo, nice silhouette-- nicer and more classic than the Ivanka Trumps I actually ended up with, because I needed a navy pump and had limited time, but oh well-- but just poorly made. If I want a fashionable but poorly made shoe, great, but I don't want to spend a hundred bucks on it. It seems like a lot of the celebrity brands have pushed out the better middle-cost lines or even, gasp, the house brands at most department stores, which is frustrating.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:54 AM on July 22 [5 favorites]


Are there other places to buy well-made leather bags without the global luxury branding overhead?


I've had my eye on J. W. Hulme lately, but they aren't inexpensive.
posted by missmerrymack at 9:55 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


I also think it's fair to be annoyed at brands that are upselling mediocre goods that trade on their good name and past standards to people

like my ferrari lunchbox?
posted by mullacc at 9:56 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


"And he wears the same thing every episode! For a designer, the guy seems fashion averse."
posted by malocchio at 9:04 AM on July 22 [+] [!]

He's not the only designer who has a sort of uniform.
posted by travelwithcats at 9:56 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


The fact that luxuries like this have become virtual necessities for women in certain professions/jobs the kind of classism that we should fight against

Sure, but not by attacking every woman who owns them.
posted by jeather at 9:57 AM on July 22 [8 favorites]


Classism is like any other sort of privilege: no one is asking you not to purchase this stuff, but to recognise that both the ability to buy these products is a privilege -- and the requirement to purchase expensive clothes and accessories to "appear professional" is privilege perpetuating itself.

You should recognize that there is a shit-ton of class signaling in the anti-expensive-bag posting in this thread, too. Oh, it's not the "right" bag. Oh, I have the time/energy/resources to find something that is actually good. Oh, I can tell "nice" leather from crappy leather. Oh, I travel internationally to get the really nice bag. Oh, I can wear whatever I want to my job. Oh, I need something that carries my laptop. Etc. These are all class signifiers. Price is a class signifier too, of course. It's just that no one in this thread is magically outside the class system in the US or magically exempt from classism because they don't own a given item.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:03 AM on July 22 [73 favorites]


Oh man this thread is giving me little pangs of anxiety. For two years now I have carried a Target brand bag that I got at Goodwill for $4.25. It's tiny (fits my pocketbook wallet, cell phone, planner and a few miscellaneous things) and I'm a carless San Franciscan so I carry lunch, books, a change of clothes, umbrella when we're not in the middle of a flippin drought, etc in another bag, usually a Green Apple Books tote bag or the bags my company gives out at BEA, which I then wear completely to shreds. I had a brief fling with a $20 bag from Ross that promptly fell apart and then it was back to the Target bag. So literally yesterday I spent $40 on a bag at Ross, and it PHYSICALLY HURT to spend it (I have a pretty small income for SF but I'm not broke at all, just a total Scrooge) but it looked pretty sturdy and I figured it was really time to stop whaling on those tote bags and start at least having room for lunch and a shirt or something in my main bag. And now I'm like "Oh God, is this a My First Real Job bag? Or is it something even worse considering what people are saying is a My First Real Job bag costs fully ten times as much?"

I think I'm back to not caring though. If anything at least I feel better about spending $40. This is the bag I bought.

Ok phew I'm really glad someone else corrected everyone about the Sex and the City episode with Carrie's apartment and Charlotte's engagement ring so I didn't have to
posted by sunset in snow country at 10:03 AM on July 22 [8 favorites]


showbiz_liz: "So if you have a Coach bag or a bag you got at Target 5 years ago, and you like it, awesome. You won't impress the people who are on top of the latest trends, but they're not the only people in the world. It takes all kinds. Fuck it."

I'm very interested in the purses my friends carry and what those purses say about them, and it's not always what you'd think.

One of them carries just the ugliest, UGLIEST nylon purse that is always stuffed to overflowing and looks like it should have been retired three years ago. (This thing is not just utilitarian, it is actively offensive to eyeballs and optic nerves.) What it actually says about her is that she's a sort-of packrat of life experiences and thoughtfulness ... whenever she sees you she pulls out six coupons for things she knows you buy, and a newspaper clipping that she thought would interest you that she's been toting around for three weeks in case she ran into you, and she's always got a bunch of maps from recent trips she took and ticket stubs from crazy events and brochures about upcoming crazy events and a spare pair of shoes because she's trail running after work even though she's never been before ...

Another one of them carries a very stylish, expensive, slightly prim handbag and she is always flawlessly put together. It probably reads as snobby to some, but in fact she's just extremely detail-oriented and ladylike (in the best way) and that is one more detail she pays attention to. She is the person who if you have to go to the hospital billing office to dispute a bill, you take her with you and she will have ever single detail of all the policies in her head, and she will lady those people into submission, smile while doing it, and make the billing department happy they could do her a favor when they fix your bill.

It's sort-of an interesting question to ask people -- why do you carry that purse and what story would it tell about you? (And even more interesting to ask that person's close friends -- what story does her purse tell about her?)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:04 AM on July 22 [21 favorites]


Ooh, I like the black. Don't worry about it. Snobs gonna snob. (re: sunset in snow country)
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:05 AM on July 22


The fact that I can't rock up to work at a law firm with a $20 haircut and $10 shoes is a kind of classism, sexism, and god knows how many other kinds of -ism, but I'd like to know what you suggest an individual woman can do about it.
posted by Salamander at 10:05 AM on July 22 [19 favorites]


There I was in Chang Mai, prone on my left side in the middle bunk in an opium den with a mature woman abjectly rubbing my feet while an odd fellow from the bunk across sang me a tune as we passed the pipe back and forth across the narrow margin. The man stopped his tuneless singing and looked meaningfully at me and spoke to me but I heard not a word. In my haze I dreamed of a Crossbody; neither a bag, nor a purse, but something to convey a purchase from Whole Foods - the opium fog lifted: a bag containing a purse. Shopping within shopping! A Russian nesting doll of money, how could I have missed it?
posted by vapidave at 10:08 AM on July 22 [13 favorites]


no one in this thread is magically outside the class system in the US or magically exempt from classism because they don't own a given item

pardon me but my purse is made out of a hollowed out copy of das kapital
posted by elizardbits at 10:08 AM on July 22 [45 favorites]


Phew ;) (I have the brown--matches with more of my stuff.) Most of my worry was tongue-in-cheek, but since I feel like I have to maximize every purchase when I saw this thread I was like "OH GOD WHAT there are actually online bag REVIEWS there is SO MUCH I didn't consider here"
posted by sunset in snow country at 10:08 AM on July 22


i stole that joke from griphus, i'm so ashamed
posted by elizardbits at 10:08 AM on July 22 [8 favorites]


It's when someone starts to insist, "but it's necessary, no one could get by without this," that others object.

I'm genuinely confused, jb- where has anyone said that about designer bags on this thread?
posted by Salamander at 10:08 AM on July 22


Phew ;) (I have the brown--matches with more of my stuff.) Most of my worry was tongue-in-cheek, but since I feel like I have to maximize every purchase when I saw this thread I was like "OH GOD WHAT there are actually online bag REVIEWS there is SO MUCH I didn't consider here"

Well, your time is valuable too, you know? I bet it'll be okay.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:10 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


+1 sunset in snow country. Looks like a good bag, sounds like you got it for a good price. Win-win.
posted by kat518 at 10:11 AM on July 22


vapiddave, please tell me you meant this to be a J. Peterman catalog homage.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:12 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


JPD: "If you had 5h:26m in the "How many hours until the first scold shows up" pool please bring your ticket to the counter."

Hey, I have the copyright on this joke!
posted by Chrysostom at 10:13 AM on July 22


elizardbits: "pardon me but my purse is made out of a hollowed out copy of das kapital"

Joke's on you, commie, mine's a capitalist purse made of a hollowed-out copy of the Constitution!

Wait, now that I say it out loud, that's not so funny.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:14 AM on July 22 [7 favorites]


(Oh, and in case I was the jerk who 'only buys bags internationally' that someone referred to upthread - I bought my bag in Indonesia because I've needed a new one for months but can't afford a leather bag in Australia. And I didn't want to buy a cheap synthetic one that would end up busted and in landfill after a few months. Not sure what kind of classist that makes me, or whatever.)
posted by Salamander at 10:14 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


(I'm not flying to Dubai for my annual discreetly-logoed handbag shopping extravaganza, is my point ;))
posted by Salamander at 10:16 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Tumi bags last.


Yes, not even dirt wants to be seen with them.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:16 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


"Re: this episode of "Sex and the City," it did not end with Carrie accepting the money from Mr. Big. [...]
I'm not proud of myself for remembering that but it was a sweet moment on the show - from the ashes of Charlotte's divorce, Carrie could have a fresh start in her new place.
posted by kat518 at 9:25 AM on July 22 [1 favorite +] [!]
"

Um, she took the check only to rip it up later. And then Carrie shows up at Charlotte's place (she took a cab for 7 blocks because her shoes pinch) and throws a tantrum [SLYT] because every good friend just has to bail you out if you're broke because you've been spending $40K on shoes, right? Yeah, let's not take lessons from SATC.
posted by travelwithcats at 10:19 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I don't think anyone really wants the whole of Metafilter to show up at their doorstop and scrutinize all their consumer products for some personal measure of fidelity

Reality show pitch!
posted by RogerB at 10:20 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


The fact that I can't rock up to work at a law firm with a $20 haircut and $10 shoes is a kind of classism, sexism, and god knows how many other kinds of -ism, but I'd like to know what you suggest an individual woman can do about it.

and there is little any individual white person can do about white privilege - except recognise that it exists, acknowledge when it's in action.

And maybe one day, when you may be the manager making the hiring decision or the judge hearing arguments, you look past the purse or haircut* to the skills of the person in front of you.

We all have to play the game - but the game won't change until we all acknowledge that it is a game.

*Coincidence that you mentioned a $20 haircut - that was the price of my most recent one, and it was a special treat - a luxury even, as I'd been getting by on less than perfect home haircuts for a couple of years. Yay being on minimum wage.
posted by jb at 10:20 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


I have a few Coach bags from 10 years ago. Every time I go bag shopping, I look at them but the quality seems to have gone down OR they've completely covered in logos. I've noticed the same thing happen with Kate Spade and Michael Kors. I'm not interested in carrying something that just says "Coach Coach Coach" all over it; those styles are very "this is my first bag and I need people to know what it is." I've been buying a lot of Brahmin bags recently; they hold up really well and are interesting. Other than that, I like to find things from local designers or just get one offs for the color.

I suppose that, for this crowd, I have a lot of bags and shoes. However, that let's me not need a lot of clothes (I hate clothes shopping most of the time) and still look different by changing out my accessories. At my last job, I'd get introduced as "sfkiddo who always has amazing bags and shoes." And I like that! It's also fun to have strangers comment on how cool my bag/shoes look.

Is that horrible and frivolous? I don't really think so, but this thread is kind of surprising to me in how judgmental a lot of the comments are. Expressing yourself with style is bad/wasteful/not what I'm interested in types of comments. Which is sad because I would love it if we had more of these FPPs.
posted by sfkiddo at 10:22 AM on July 22 [5 favorites]


And maybe one day, when you may be the manager making the hiring decision or the judge hearing arguments, you look past the purse or haircut* to the skills of the person in front of you.

Okay, but the woman who's still just applying for the job may not get to be the manager if she doesn't get the foot-in-the-door job first. So now what?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:23 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


I don't think it makes you a jerk, Salamander. I think it's a class signifier. We all do it all the time. That's what I'm trying to get at, not that any one person is Bad and Should Feel Bad. It's invisible to us because it's the water we swim in all the time. It's like how "normal" hairstyles don't adhere to a platonic ideal of hairstyle. They're "normal" because we have certain culturally-bounded expectations for what "normal" means in regard to hair. Which, whatever, until someone starts acting like it's objectively bad or dumb or naive or lazy to have a given non-standard haircut.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:23 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


It's when someone starts to insist, "but it's necessary, no one could get by without this," that others object.

The flip side is when someone starts to insist that it* can't possibly be necessary for anyone they are also going to get people objecting, and possibly nitpicking the "it's not necessary!" person's own choices in ways that are equally obnoxious and pointless. Like, you've got a computer and the connection needed to type on this here website. That's not necessary! How much did you spend on those pants? Not necessary! Etc.

When your "it's not necessary" veers into territory in which you judge the person and not the system, you should maybe quit.

* whatever the "it" is - bag, shoes, mp3 player, etc.
posted by rtha at 10:24 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


At my last job, I'd get introduced as "sfkiddo who always has amazing bags and shoes." And I like that! It's also fun to have strangers comment on how cool my bag/shoes look.

I have to say, I'm enjoying the parts of this thread where people link to cool bags, much like they do with pet pictures. Like this bag, which is a fantastic color. Please keep linking to amazing bags!
posted by jetlagaddict at 10:27 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


I never said it was classist to buy expensive bags.

What I (personally, as opposed to anyone else) said was classist was the comment at the top of the thread that described Kors as being the bag for "My first real job" - as if the majority of people in North Am who don't work jobs requiring $300 purses aren't working real jobs. Like I said, my first real job was in cooks' whites.

I've faced the classism of the professional world directly. I've had to borrow professional clothes for job interviews because I can't afford suit jackets that don't come from a thrift store. My clothes - or purse - have no bearing on my intelligence, my skills. Instead of rationalising it, let's all just recognise that it exists - and that bags like this are luxuries, just like smart phones, and that the world is classist and makes markers like this.

Of course, now there are jobs that require you to have a smart phone. At least there, the firm is often willing to pay for that - maybe because men are affected.
posted by jb at 10:30 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


jetlagaddict: this is close to my favorite Brahmin bag. It zips completely closed which is a must for public transportation commutes.
posted by sfkiddo at 10:33 AM on July 22 [6 favorites]


What I (personally, as opposed to anyone else) said was classist was the comment at the top of the thread that described Kors as being the bag for "My first real job" - as if the majority of people in North Am who don't work jobs requiring $300 purses aren't working real jobs.

I could be wrong, but I didn't think they meant it like that. To me it came across more as...Michael Kors is the bag you buy not because it has any intrinsic merit, since it's actually a bit cheap-looking, but because you think it's 'the done thing' to be seen with one at your first office job. Because that's what everyone else carries.

I didn't think it was any sort of indictment on people who don't work in Michael-Kors-bag type environments. But I'm neither North American, nor au fait with the whole Coach/Kors bag thing.

(My own first job was on a mine-site, and I dressed like a truck driver, so there's that.)
posted by Salamander at 10:38 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


OH NO i love it and it comes in a reddish brown that i totally dont need but crave uncontrollably nevertheless
posted by elizardbits at 10:39 AM on July 22


For the handbag porn people - I can't link properly because I'm dumb (don't judge), but I give you: deadly ponies

http://www.deadlyponies.com/collections/accessories/

(Not the fluffy ones, the sleek, minimal ones with that curved zip top. YUM.)
posted by Salamander at 10:44 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


Much like, oh, 90% of what people wear (instead of going to Goodwill and investing in multiple snuggies and calling it done).

There are truly some beautiful things one can buy secondhand. One of the perks of Goodwill et al, is that it removes the shirts, dresses, jackets, handbags etc. from their retail alter...and they become just items of clothes. The luxury veil of marketing, branding, more or less eradicated, the artificial mystique gone. I never see snuggies at Goodwill, fyi. Instead, I see some premier brands looking not-so-premier next to a more well-made, no-name brand. Sometimes the more well-known brand does hold up in the more level, secondhand arena; often it does not. The whole idea that "name recognition" & "higher pricepoint" = "style" is clearly wrong. Instead of nurturing an individual style, brands are tricking you into thinking style can be bought, to make more money off of your naivete. You're not paying for two 10"X12" rectangles of leather sewn together with straps (or what have you), you're paying for a promise of classiness and gentility that is not delivered.
posted by tenlives at 10:50 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


I tried the Timbuk2 messenger bags, but if you are forgetful and sloppy like me and leave it open while you're carrying it, the Velcro rips the heck out of your jeans leg.

Fossil bags are less expensive and pretentious than Coach, and tend to be made of softer, thicker leather with reasonable hardware.
posted by Peach at 10:53 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I could be wrong, but I didn't think they meant it like that. To me it came across more as...Michael Kors is the bag you buy not because it has any intrinsic merit, since it's actually a bit cheap-looking, but because you think it's 'the done thing' to be seen with one at your first office job. Because that's what everyone else carries.

First office job in a very particular class context. As well as cooking (and being a barista, more recently), I've worked several professional office jobs. Outside of law and finance, the standards for "office wear" are completely different. My boss at one job - a senior scientist and head of a research division at a major hospital - carried a $10 purse, and wore Clarks shoes (about $100-200, last for years).

Maybe we had the priviledge - being a research oriented non-profit, talent was valued above all else. But I also know that throughout the white collar - more often pink collar - world, the standards for office wear are wearing but still cheaper. I know, because I've watched relatives with pink collar jobs shop at Walmart for their clothes and purses.

that said, I still worry. I'm changing clothes right now, so I can do a follow up on a job application for office administrator. I have a masters degree and have taught myself how to program, but I'm worried that they won't hire me if they see me in trousers with pockets.
posted by jb at 10:55 AM on July 22 [6 favorites]


tenlives, point taken. I agree with you, FWIW. I wasn't meaning to knock Goodwill, more making the point that people don't shop purely for functionality. It's not about 'how to cover ones body as cheaply and easily as possible'. I could have used 'polyester muumuus from K-Mart' as an example, and meant the same thing.
posted by Salamander at 10:57 AM on July 22


Just want to thank the OP for this excellent post. I have been looking for a new handbag for the past few months and this discussion has been fascinating.
posted by Mallenroh at 11:02 AM on July 22


First office job in a very particular class context. As well as cooking (and being a barista, more recently), I've worked several professional office jobs. Outside of law and finance, the standards for "office wear" are completely different.

That's interesting (and I mean that genuinely). Most of the young women I see working office jobs in the city here all seem to carry the same kind of bag. Not Coach/Kors, but a local brand that I know starts at around $250-$300. They look as if they spend a fortune on expensive shoes and bags; I'm guessing most of them live at home and don't run cars, or whatever, but still...

I actually loathe the idea of spending a chunk of my income on things to wear...to work. If I could wave a magic wand and make my workplace have a uniform, I would.
posted by Salamander at 11:04 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


You should recognize that there is a shit-ton of class signaling in the anti-expensive-bag posting in this thread, too. Oh, it's not the "right" bag. Oh, I have the time/energy/resources to find something that is actually good. Oh, I can tell "nice" leather from crappy leather. Oh, I travel internationally to get the really nice bag. Oh, I can wear whatever I want to my job
I didn't actually say that I could wear whatever I wanted to my job. I said that nobody cared what bag I carried. That's not because I am some sort of Bill Gates-style Master of the Universe, and I am so important that I can show up to work barefoot and nobody would notice. It's because I have an office job of the sort that doesn't pay enough to afford a $300 handbag, and most of my co-workers are not married to or partnered with people who supplement their clothes budget that way. (I'm also not in a big city, which may be important context.) I am not expected to carry a $300 handbag because I don't function in a universe in which that's typically on the table. And there are plenty of people who are not poor but for whom $300 handbags are not going to happen.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:06 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Well, I think a lot of this 'class signaling' stuff is a bit misleading, actually. 'Cause I was also one of the people who can tell 'nice' leather from 'crappy' leather, but that's because a relative who used to live with us was big into leather-working, and he taught me what to look for (which has come in handy for someone who refuses to fork out extra cash for designer brands). Not because my Great-grandmother passed down steamer trunks full of tissue-wrapped vintage Chanel or something. :D
posted by Salamander at 11:19 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]


Excellent post, thank you!

I have to say, I'm enjoying the parts of this thread where people link to cool bags, much like they do with pet pictures.

Me too. I haven't seen this in person so I can't comment on the quality or value, but I lovelovelove the simple the design of this bucket bag.

There are truly some beautiful things one can buy secondhand. One of the perks of Goodwill et al, is that it removes the shirts, dresses, jackets, handbags etc. from their retail alter...and they become just items of clothes

In L.A. those days are mostly gone, unfortunately. At thrift stores the good stuff almost never makes it out onto the sales floor.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:19 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I remember back in the nineties guffawing over a $6,000 Hermès leatherclad thermos in, it seems improbable but I think it's true because it was before ubiquitous internet, a paper catalog sent to one of the roommates. I wondered if Hermès had lowered their standards any so I looked, and no. You can buy a Jypsière* for ninetyonehundred dollars today. I'm sure Hermès customers would recoil from a $1500 Deadly Pony the same way Deadly Pony customers would recoil from a $300 Coach bag the same way deluded Coach**-buyers recoil from off-the-rack Target sacks. I do not care: it is all hideous. Buttery? To hell with it. Slouchy? To hell with it. Boxy and dripping with gold jizz? To hell with it. It all looks like something Bette Midler's character in Ruthless People would walk around with. I don't understand purse yen (though that "useful pot to put things in" makes sense). Shoes, OTOH, I do understand. Shoes become part of you and change the way your whole body looks. Purses just hang off you and wait to be snatched by the neighborhood toughs. To hell with purses and pocketbooks, cheap or pricey. To hell with all of them.

*Hermès = Ikea. They both sell weirdly named products with accent marks. An accent aigu means you will be spending several thousand dollars for something smaller than your own head. An umlaut means you'll spend under 2K for a quarter ton of laminated particle board and an allen wrench.

**Coach is perfectly named: NOT first class.
posted by Don Pepino at 11:22 AM on July 22


MeTa
posted by elizardbits at 11:24 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


desjardins, my canvas bags last a couple of years because they don't look dirty. People's fancy bags look dirty to me all the time.

I bring to work a canvas Manhattan Portage bag to my job at a finance company. I assure you that since having had beer spilled in it, it looks plenty dirty.

A well made leather bag uses a fair amount of good quality leather and has been made by someone working at a workbench putting it together in such a way that it will stay in one piece and be repairable if something breaks, much like a pair of high quality men's shoes, which generally start at $200-$300 for far less leather.

So, yeah, count me as un-shocked regarding the cost. And since when are messenger bags a low-cost alternative? Timbuk2 has plenty of models in the $150+ range.
posted by deanc at 11:27 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


A well-made bag looks nicer and nicer the longer you carry it. A cheap bag looks worse and worse.
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:32 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


Purses just hang off you [...] Shoes, OTOH, I do understand.

Oh, but they don't have to just hang off you! Good leather will soften with age and conform to your body. It will take on a beautiful patina that is unique to each user. It's not unlike shoes, really. I don't really care much about shoes, but I do understand it.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:33 AM on July 22


This thread is highly illuminating, because I used to think I was just going about my daily life and now I know I am horrifying all who pass with my deluded hideous mutant beast Coach bag that I didn't even actually buy or ask for. All of those people may kiss my shiny metal ass.
posted by like_a_friend at 11:40 AM on July 22 [5 favorites]


almostmanda: I look forward to coming into an Xbox thread and scolding everyone for not buying a yo-yo instead.

Is that something you need fingers to care about? I don't even own a hand.
posted by dr_dank at 11:43 AM on July 22 [12 favorites]


If someone would like to spend a mint of money on a US-made leather bag, may I recommend Village Tannery? Admittedly, my Village Tannery bag was an entirely random secondhand score back before eBay rationalized the thrift store market around here, and I don't expect to be kicking down for a new one any time soon, but they're lovely bags, really nicely made. The one I have, which is a classic style small messenger bag, will almost certainly outlast me, and I'm not forty yet.
posted by Frowner at 11:49 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


Heh... fraula, I was just checking out the Lancel bag images you linked to, and some of them looked really familiar... and then I realized I've seen knockoffs of some of them at Target. The "Coup D’éclat" one especially looks familiar.
posted by palomar at 11:53 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Yebbut people aren't going to look at you and go, "Hey, you look super in that new fillintheblank." Instead they say, "Wow, where'd you get that fillintheblank, it's super!" You don't pick up a purse in the shop, put it on, look in the mirror and spin around and think, "Oh damn. My legs just grew three feet, yessir," or, alternatively, kick the shoes across the room and think, "God above, what are you thinking, Monkey Feet. Get the hell off me, 'fresh peeptoes for summer frolics.'" The bag changes, but it doesn't change you.

(There's a certain kind of sandal that shows all of the toes except where they join the foot so it looks like they're three, four inches long. The effect is quite startling.)
posted by Don Pepino at 11:53 AM on July 22


Yebbut people aren't going to look at you and go, "Hey, you look super in that new fillintheblank." Instead they say, "Wow, where'd you get that fillintheblank, it's super!" You don't pick up a purse in the shop, put it on, look in the mirror and spin around and think, "Oh damn. My legs just grew three feet, yessir," or, alternatively, kick the shoes across the room and think, "God above, what are you thinking, Monkey Feet. Get the hell off me, 'fresh peeptoes for summer frolics.'" The bag changes, but it doesn't change you.


I think instead of buying shoes you may actually be buying hallucinogenic drugs?
posted by like_a_friend at 11:58 AM on July 22 [17 favorites]


OMG, those divine Village Tannery bags...my eyes have gone all glazed over.
posted by Salamander at 11:59 AM on July 22


(it's okay this is a mistake we all make sometimes)
posted by like_a_friend at 12:01 PM on July 22 [7 favorites]


Raised in a purse? I would have dreamed to have been raised in a purse!

When I were a lad, we lived in a burlap sack, and a man would come 'round to kick us every Tuesday!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:04 PM on July 22 [10 favorites]


I tend to associate "class privilege" with not having to look your best. I mean, good for you if you can get ahead in life with your job at Google where you can show up in jeans and a tshirt and pull down a six digit salary, but my immigrant grandmother had to always "look her best" to get taken seriously when trying to expand the sales of her florist shop. If I look scruffier or dress more eccentric, it's because I have the social and professional capital that allows me to do it. And even I wouldn't show up with crocs to the office, and neither would any of you.

**Coach is perfectly named: NOT first class

An analogous thing would be to get high and mighty about how you don't REALLY need to fly on an airplane, and flying coach isn't REALLY that nice for all the money you pay for it, and if you're just willing to spend a little more time you can just take a bus for much less money. And anyway to even discuss taking a plane flight like it is a normal thing to do just smacks of class privilege.
posted by deanc at 12:09 PM on July 22 [17 favorites]


Considering how much use purses see, more than almost any accessory that isn't something you'd put in a purse (glasses, lenses, keys, wallet, phone, chapstick, sanitary stuff), I don't see why it's unreasonable to spend that much on one.

It seems like phones or glasses to me. It may not be completely necessary to get a new one, but you are getting a lot more for your value regardless of if it's $50 or $400.
posted by halifix at 12:10 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I mean, good for you if you can get ahead in life with your job at Google where you can show up in jeans and a tshirt and pull down a six digit salary

Also this isn't just class but gender. I find myself more respected when dressed up/dressed feminine (I am a woman), even when working with t-shirted techie dudes.
posted by sweetkid at 12:12 PM on July 22 [13 favorites]


"I bring to work a canvas Manhattan Portage bag to my job at a finance company. I assure you that since having had beer spilled in it, it looks plenty dirty."

The cool thing is you can wash it. In your washing machine! And iron it too!
posted by travelwithcats at 12:19 PM on July 22


Also this isn't just class but gender. I find myself more respected when dressed up/dressed feminine (I am a woman), even when working with t-shirted techie dudes.

Yep. When I was young in non-profit, I used to show up in my jeans and t-shirts like everyone else. In academia, the guys can get away with fleece vests and corduroy, but in order to move up, I've found that I need to be dressed in a professional yet feminine manner with at least a little lipstick and a decent purse and shoes.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:19 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


And anyway to even discuss taking a plane flight like it is a normal thing to do just smacks of class privilege.

So does discussing bus travel. You have some place to go? And you're going to spend money to go there?
posted by cell divide at 12:22 PM on July 22


Right bag/right hair/right makeup makes an insane amount of difference for women in corporate life ("right" is up to interpretation, I work in a creative field rather than finance, so "right" is defined/coded differently but is still important).
posted by sweetkid at 12:23 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


The people who look down on Coach

Coach makes many perfectly lovely pieces. Its just that whoever took over the brand in the late 90s/ early 00s really produced some godawful stuff for a while and did a lot of questionable product placement. If I had a lovely Coach purse I'd carry it proudly. But for a long time the company was a lesson in how to run a reputation into the ground. They did make a lot of money though, and it's entirely possible the plan was always to do what they did.

A comparison for all you purse haters would be the sale of Gary Fisher bikes to Trek. Or maybe when Kitchenaid started making mixers with plastic gears. A brand known for unflashy quality going mainstream and fucking it up with their original customer base.
posted by fshgrl at 12:23 PM on July 22 [5 favorites]


And if you dont think product placement is a big deal in how your brand is perceived may I remind you of that time James Bond drank a Heineken? The backlash was hilarious and immediate.
posted by fshgrl at 12:31 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I am not a purse hater- in fact I am perfectly sanguine about them.


The sale of Gary Fisher bikes to Trek is right up there with the attack on Fort Sumter and what they did to Greg LeMond.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:33 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


This being one of the best threads ever, I propose we fashion a bag out of this fine blue thread and sell it on a sliding scale - all the proceeds will benefit Metafilter's operating expenses...
posted by nikoniko at 12:37 PM on July 22 [7 favorites]


Coach is in a weird place right now. A couple years ago, I picked up a great little black shoulder bag at a local thrift shop and was surprised to see it was Coach. It wore well and quietly played nice with my outfits, so I took a walk through the Coach retail shop in the mall. Didn't find a single thing I cared for.

Last week, I popped into a sweet vintage leathergoods store in Portland that quickly became my purse heaven; it features a small wall filled with a bunch of those vintage Coach bags that are just...simple and perfect and buttery and non-descript. No extra pockets all over the place, no extra zippers dangling everywhere, and clean lines that ensure maximum stuffability.
posted by redsparkler at 12:39 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


I own something close to this thing: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Prada-Black-Leather-Small-Bowler-Bag-/251594412883?pt=US_CSA_WH_Handbags&hash=item3a94321353 (it has--or it had--the contrasting piping, but not the perforations or the stitching).
My friend who walked dogs in New York City was handed it by one of her clients who was tired of it, and then my friend gave it to me. I took it around to some places. It was impractical because of the short handles and it looked like a football and it did not seem to be enjoying itself. At least, not the way my shoes do when I take them places. Finally I spraypainted it silver one for New Year's Eve one year when my friend and I dressed up all in mylar. (You buy space blankets and make stuff out of them.) The makeover seemed to liven it up some, but I never carried it anywhere after that, so I guess that night was its swan song. Currently it's full of spilled glitter hanging on a hook at the back of the closet. I also have a Filson bag, also a hand-me-down, also a sad sack. It's supposed to be a carry-on, but I no longer take it on airplanes: your carry-on should not weigh more than the crap you stuff in it. As for air vs bus travel, is everyone aware that there is now Megabus? Take that to your airport and get on your international flight. No one should fly within the continental USA. US airlines are not well-made, and their artisans are not fairly compensated for their labor. I am going to get a tattoo that says "buttery and nondescript."
posted by Don Pepino at 12:41 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I have a friend who hand-makes durable leather bags as her main business and they cost ~$300.
posted by wcfields at 12:47 PM on July 22 [9 favorites]


sunset in snow country mentioning SF reminded me - I bought the most amazing purse I have ever owned at a thrift shop in the Mission and I never use it so I was going to throw it away (I'm moving soon), but now I think I should give it to someone in this thread instead. (Unless it's in worse shape than I remember...) I'll take a picture and post it when I get home. It is magnificent.
posted by maryr at 1:03 PM on July 22


I have never seen purse product placement like that in Korean dramas. There have been purse placement plot points. It is amazing.
posted by maryr at 1:06 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I am unusually hard on handbags, and after a while it dawned on me that instead of buying $25 purses at Target 4 times a year that wore out quickly and looked like crap, I could, actually, spring a couple hundred bucks for a purse that would last a lot longer and still look nice.

Oh, sure, but you can get non-leather bags with life-time warranty from established brands known for quality for less than $100, so twice that sounds like a perfectly ok "it's not just the features or the quality I'm after here" aka "approaching luxury good" threshold. Not that it's anything wrong with a bit of luxury now and then.
posted by effbot at 1:06 PM on July 22


wcfields, they are gorgeous. And worth every cent, I'd bet.
posted by Salamander at 1:08 PM on July 22


I never use it so I was going to throw it away (I'm moving soon), but now I think I should give it to someone in this thread instead.

Hmm.... Purse exchange.... Hmm.... I have some purses I don't use....
posted by Room 641-A at 1:10 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I must be some sort of freak woman, because handbags do nothing for me. I can't quite wrap my head around spending so much for a purse that you've got no money left to put in it.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 1:11 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Some of the back-and-forth about luxury items as markers of various class statuses, income levels, permissible gender expressions, and so on reminds me of the sumptuary laws of the Middle Ages, meant to keep the lower classes from imitating the upper ones. Something about people without money doing things that only people with money should be able to do really burns. It's like the disapprobation extended to the poor who have video games, or to the homeless person who refuses the used clothing you try to give him or her. It's as if you can only have tastes and preferences if you qualify somehow.
posted by Peach at 1:11 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


Time to catch up on Metafilter for the day. Oh wow this post about bags has over 300 comments, that's not really what I'm into but maybe there's some really interesting discussion I'm missing out on I should check it out.

Oh, just some people making casually misogynistic and classist remarks then. Nevermind.
posted by DynamiteToast at 1:19 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


That being said the "I am a horse" link and ThePinkSuperhero's canoe definitely made it worth checking up on.
posted by DynamiteToast at 1:19 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Could you elaborate, Peach? I'm not seeing anything that's like disapproving of poor people having video games.
posted by Salamander at 1:22 PM on July 22


/I must be some sort of freak woman, because handbags do nothing for me.

To me purses and man-bags are a really strict exercise in design. They're all just sacs we carry stuff in, right? So how can one be so covet-able and another be repulsive. It's fascinating seeing all the permutations of a what would be a very limited engineering spec.

Design wise I love that Michael Kors handbag in the FPP. It's simple and has great lines, I find it pleasing to look at. But for $300 I would want something of better quality. I hated the last 10 years of tassels and buckles and studs. Lazy design.
posted by fshgrl at 1:23 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


(Actually, I don't think I follow your entire comment, but it's late, so...)
posted by Salamander at 1:24 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Important Update: I have always been bothered by bags that have those little parts sticking out of the sides like that one has. They looked wrong and sort of inside out to me, like a tag sticking out of a shirt, and I would really want to go push them in.

But that was this morning! I have looked at enough pictures of it now that it looks fine to me, and I don't want to poke at people's purses anymore!

FASHION! It happened to me!
posted by ernielundquist at 1:26 PM on July 22 [14 favorites]


Could you elaborate, Peach? I'm not seeing anything that's like disapproving of poor people having video games.
I think that this is metafilter, so it's awesome to sneer that a $300 bag is "another cheap copy" of the $2500 bag that you bought 4 years ago, but it's really classist to point out that $300 is a lot to spend on a handbag. Because reasons.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:26 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


"Reminds me" meaning the disdain for expensive bags reminded me of the sumptuary laws, and I saw another post about photos of poor people, with those who viewed them loudly disapproving of poor people having video games. I had to chase down several Google-holes until I found the word "sumptuary," and once I found it I didn't want to just let it loose to roam homeless again, so I put it here.

I have elaborated. I didn't say it was directly connected.
posted by Peach at 1:28 PM on July 22


I think that this is metafilter, so it's awesome to sneer that a $300 bag is "another cheap copy" of the $2500 bag that you bought 4 years ago, but it's really classist to point out that $300 is a lot to spend on a handbag. Because reasons.

Both of those are classist to me, but I'd point out that (at least in my experience) the "how does she afford that, doesn't she have kids, it's so irresponsible to spend that much on a purse" happens all the time, while the former is less common.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:30 PM on July 22


Darling MeFites, have I told you about my ingénue years working in the nonprofit world? My job requirements specifically included hobnobbing with multimillionaires and being nice to them (and nice to be around) so that they would write us checks. The majority of this hobnobbing took place at evening performances and parties.

I was paid a nonprofit level salary.

I did this for the sake of Art, which I know many of you will say is A Luxury, yet had I done it for Starving Children or AIDS Research or Animal Welfare I should have had to meet the same expectations.

After diligent study of Genevieve Antoine Dariaux's A Guide to Elegance, I had somehow acquired:

A black leather shoulder bag, $40 secondhand (forty hours of searching online).
A black evening bag, alas not leather, $20 (twelve hours of pavement pounding searching discount stores).
A black cocktail dress from H&M, $40. ("I try to get evening dresses in colors", my kind coworker later told me, "it makes it easier for the patrons to point you out.").

Finally came the wet, freezing evening of my first premiere! In order to preserve my stockings (the mention of which luxurious and wasteful garments have undoubtedly caused a large portion of you to stop reading), I had decided to do my office work in jeans and a sweater and change into evening clothes at four. But how to transport them? My rolling suitcase would be absurd and too large to conceal at the event, yet my shoulder bag could not possibly fit my jeans and sweater. How I wished for a discreetly elegant leather overnight case.

But then I was blessed with a vision from the Goddess Practicality herself! A cheap and waterproof solution was at hand, and if it seemed somewhat less elegant, still I was only going to sneak in to the theatre before everyone else, and tuck it away somewhere.

Thus did I stroll into the marble foyer, elegantly clad and clutching two damp plastic bags from CVS, whence bulged my clothes and boots. As I nonchalantly shoved them behind my lectern, my boss and coworkers gazed on, truly astounded at such ingenuity in one so young. And indeed, I have reason to believe that this impression followed me throughout all my (too brief!) days at this company, clinging to me as would a delicate, yet penetratrating perfume--perhaps something from the finest counter at Macy's--something like Britney Spears Caramel fantasy.

Ah, ou sont les sacs à main d'antan?
posted by Hypatia at 1:31 PM on July 22 [18 favorites]


Like I said, I'd love a 'lady purse' that didn't mark me as some kind of loser, because I'm human and I live in a very status conscious city.

I'm also 50 years old, so carrying cheap bags makes me look beyond help, not like a struggling student, which is what I actually am. As for this 'just go to Goodwill' idea, I find that there is very little to buy at thrift shops because there are professional shoppers who comb them daily to find articles that can be resold at consignment places, and those articles that are left over are often soiled or damaged. There's a huge market in resale here.

Even on campus, I see girls carrying purses that could pay my rent for three months and they sneer at my shitty tote of the moment. It's not wrong to like luxury leather goods, but it's wrong that we live in a society where you are judged on something like what purse you're carrying. And no, I don't have an iPhone, or a Kindle, or a MacBook, or fancy shoes, or a car, either.

Being poor sucks, and being treated poorly for being poor sucks even more. I spend what money I have on textbooks and I cut my own hair (badly), too. Everything about my appearance tells people that I don't have money and this designer purse thing is really depressing to me, because all kinds of people in this thread seem to think that the 300 dollar purse that I'd love to own, because it would remove one of my markers of poverty is just a cheap piece of crap. People really do treat you differently if you're perceived as poor. That's what I see as the problem. Not that people like nice things, but that a person can and probably will, be treated poorly for not having the right status markers.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 1:37 PM on July 22 [32 favorites]


If anyone gets a purse exchange going I have a few things I would happily mail to someone who wanted them.

I feel like handbags are for some reason a thing that allows people to just project all their issues about consumption and whatever at other people, though with handbags that's mostly women.

It was mentioned up thread but MZ Wallace nylon bags are great but pricey. They do have discounts and sales more often now. The best prices are if they have a sample sale.
posted by oneear at 1:45 PM on July 22


Of course, it's totally shallow and shitty that people get judged on their possessions: handbags, phones, shoes, or whatever. :(

I'd like to think people grow out of it. I know that I took more notice of people's bags at 20 than I do at 40. Now, I mostly think 'cool design on that tote', without giving a second thought to the brand, or much it might have cost. (Actually, the last tote I coveted tuned out to be a freebie they gave my sister at a preteen clothing store - she tipped her stuff out and gave it to me, and I used it almost daily to the strap snapped).
posted by Salamander at 1:52 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


alltomorrowsparties, yep. Yep. I used to be able to find all sorts of things at thrift stores, but it's harder, now. (Also, I'm older and fatter, which does not help.) I really hate that the nonsense I scrape out of my closet and jam on my body supposedly "tells a story" about me. But I'm not spending money on clothes, I don't care if it limits me in life. I don't have it, A. and B. I hate all that bullshit since I was introduced to it in middle school and tortured with it for the whole three years, and I'm just not going to do it. I live in a backwater, but there's still some of that to deal with, and it's idiotic. My glasses cost me $40 off the internet like ten years ago. They looked okay ten years ago, but not so much today. I'm pretty sure people think I'm just oblivious. No. But how I look in my stupid internet glasses is really not my highest priority in life. Eff off, basically.

I think most of the things rich people supposedly do, like buying $6,000 thermoses or flying first class, those things aren't really done by anybody rich. The REAL stuff REAL rich people REALLY do is all hidden and secret. That's why they want "poor doors" for their highrises--because they even go through doors a secret, special, rich-person way that the common people Cannot Know. (People flying first class aren't the real rich people. Real rich people charter or own.)
posted by Don Pepino at 1:53 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


Looking polished to get ahead career-wise? Possibly right. But one can look perfectly polished without name brands - on bags or otherwise.
posted by travelwithcats at 2:01 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Like I alluded to in my previous comment, brand name handbags are perceived differently depending on location. Where I live, Coach is not a thing, but Michael Kors' bags and wallets are really big with teenage girls 16+.
posted by travelwithcats at 2:09 PM on July 22


this designer purse thing is really depressing to me, because all kinds of people in this thread seem to think that the 300 dollar purse that I'd love to own, because it would remove one of my markers of poverty is just a cheap piece of crap.

Wonderfully said.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:14 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


The REAL stuff REAL rich people REALLY do is all hidden and secret. That's why they want "poor doors" for their highrises--because they even go through doors a secret, special, rich-person way that the common people Cannot Know. (People flying first class aren't the real rich people. Real rich people charter or own.)

Look I know this is a thing and that some people are merely wealthy while others are astronomically, untouchably wealthy, but I'm sorry, if you make more than...shit, I dunno like 200K a year? You're fucking loaded and that's pretty much that. I only go up to 200K because I'm feeling exceptionally generous to people with kids in shitty housing markets.

I think this is part of why the thread has gone so far off the rails--this concept that anyone who makes less than Trump is "middle class." It is the only framework in which "a $300 bag is a cheap piece of tacky-wannabe-middle-class-people crap" even is a concept that parses.
posted by like_a_friend at 2:18 PM on July 22 [7 favorites]


I think what most people have said is that a lot of the time, when you buy designer bags, they're crap quality *at their price point*. In other words, you're paying mostly for the logo. I don't really see how that's hideously classist.
posted by Salamander at 2:28 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


I think this is part of why the thread has gone so far off the rails

I actually think this thread is totally fascinating and awesome.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:29 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


It is literally the only framework in which "a $300 bag is a cheap piece of tacky-wannabe-middle-class-people crap" even is a concept that parses.

I believe what some of the earlier comments were alluding to is the fact that what some brands sell for $300 is not worth, to them, $300. Not because $300 is an insignificant amount to spend on a bag at all, but because the rise of the It Bag has created a marketing opportunity for bags that are objectively not as well made as some of their $300 peers. $300 buys you a lot of the favorite bags mentioned in this thread-- some Longchamp, Brahmin, a lot of Coach purses both vintage and new, most Kate Spades, some of the small studio handmade leather options, maybe even a used McQueen. And a third of the most beautiful Orvis bag in the world that The Whelk posted in Meta. $300 in Michael Kors apparently buys you a purse that is cool looking but maybe doesn't hold up as well as some of its peers.

I could be reading those comments wrong, and I want to make it clear just in case I said anything upthread that wasn't: I think purses in general are super cool, I really like fancy leather bags (but I just checked and I think my current one is going used for ca. $17 on eBay), no one should at all feel tacky for having a bag they love and that is useful for their stuff. It's tacky when people sneer at your bags (seriously who does that).
posted by jetlagaddict at 2:32 PM on July 22 [7 favorites]


It's also noted in the post that part of the success of the Michael Kors bag, which contributes further to it becoming an It bag, is that they've master the $300 price - they've priced it just expensive enough to show customers it is a Designer item and then taken just enough off the price to undercut competitors. It's like pricing wine.
posted by maryr at 2:36 PM on July 22 [9 favorites]


I think this is part of why the thread has gone so far off the rails--this concept that anyone who makes less than Trump is "middle class."

Right, exactly. A bunch of what's happening here is not really that much to do with purses at all, so much as with mainstream American culture's (and hence much of MetaFilter's) total inability to talk reasonably about class — where the boundaries of what "poor" or "rich" mean are always shifted to the extremes, so that the illusion that almost everyone is "middle-class" can be sustained. If anyone who's neither literally starving nor on a private jet is in the same economic circumstances, then of course it's impossible to talk reasonably about the array of cultural meaning and personal feeling packed into a particular $300 aspirational-luxury consumer good. It wouldn't be that different a discussion (in that way, at least) if it were about, say, wristwatches.
posted by RogerB at 2:41 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


It is seriously the most beautiful bag I have ever seen and my desire for it is physically painful but unless my life goes very differently soon I am not spending 800$ on a bag.
posted by The Whelk at 2:51 PM on July 22


I am on #4 or 5 of a succession of large black bags. I got the current one at Goodwill for 24.99, even though the previous one wasn't really worn out yet. Cole-Haan, tooled leather, wide enough to be able to find things in it. I carry mobile, wallet, hairbrush, some makeup, medications, an inhaler, dog treats, maybe a leash, lactase pills, and whatever junk has accumulated. People who make clothing without pockets for women are jerks, but even when I have pockets, I carry the bag. All that stuff is really useful. Probably too cheap to pay 300 for a bag, but for a thing that useful, it's not unreasonable. What's unreasonable, to me, is the fashion industry that convinces women to buy lots of 300+ bags, lots of 300+ shoes that can't be walked in, and all the other crap. Heaven forbid you should wear colors that suit you but aren't in fashion. I like to wear pretty things, but it's so out of control. Talk to parent of teenagers who have mountains of clothing.

If I had one of those bags, 1st thing I'd do it take off that logo with my trusty seam ripper. I don't wnat your social signifiers, thanks.
posted by theora55 at 2:53 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


And we haven't even gotten around to Michael Kors having appropriated the birthplace of the US Civil Rights movement as the name of this cursed handbag.
posted by Flashman at 2:57 PM on July 22


I think this is part of why the thread has gone so far off the rails--this concept that anyone who makes less than Trump is "middle class." It is the only framework in which "a $300 bag is a cheap piece of tacky-wannabe-middle-class-people crap" even is a concept that parses.

I really don't get this concept that average middle class people with incomes well under 100k aren't spending a few hundred dollars on designer goods.

The Michael Kors bag is squarely aimed at that "account manager" or "program coordinator" who needs to look "put together" at the office and probably wants to treat herself to a nice accessory within her budget. The surgeon making $300k either has a "thing" for much more expensive bags as a personal hobby or doesn't care about bags at all because she spends her days getting splattered with blood in the OR.
posted by deanc at 3:05 PM on July 22 [5 favorites]


Just showing off. No one in the world needs a purse. I hate them and I do not want to be tethered to one as I root for garbage I don't need: they are like a security blanket for women. I prefer to take my essentials in my pocket and be good to go in a heartbeat...

Goodness, yes--I used to have my seamstress design everything with pockets, but now I just have my maid trail along and carry the things I need. Freedom, true freedom.
posted by Hypatia at 3:06 PM on July 22 [18 favorites]


I have a small train of attendants who carry all my belongings individually in their white-gloved hands.
posted by elizardbits at 3:06 PM on July 22 [16 favorites]


curse you hypatia
posted by elizardbits at 3:07 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I really don't get this concept that average middle class people with incomes well under 100k aren't spending a few hundred dollars on designer goods.

Nah, nor do I.

Plenty of people earning less than that will drop way more than $300 over a few years on computer games, or sports equipment, or alcohol. Or shoes, or electronics, or home decor. The list goes on. Why dropping the equivalent on a handbag seems so unthinkable, is beyond me.
posted by Salamander at 3:15 PM on July 22 [9 favorites]


because it's dumb girl stuff
posted by elizardbits at 3:17 PM on July 22 [24 favorites]


Would I seem like a frivolous person if I said that I budgeted carefully as a hard-working single parent, bought all my clothes at Goodwill and budgeted $43 per year on special handbags for myself?

No, right? $43 as a special treat isn't all that bad. And $43 for a decent handbag? That could get me something, sure.

Except I didn't spend $43 per year.

I bought 2 bags in my entire adult life. In 30 years. The first was a CourierWare bag and it cost $100.

The other was a $1200 Mulberry bag. I bought that bag knowing it was going to be the only luxury item I ever bought for myself in my life. And it is.

No. I did not need to buy that bag. But I wanted that bag and I feel like a badass every time I use it and I use it every single day.

Am I frivolous? Maybe. Do I spend less on handbags and create less garbage than all of my friends and coworkers? Over the course of 30 years, yes.
posted by kinetic at 3:17 PM on July 22 [10 favorites]


I feel as if Coach has actually recovered some in quality-- at least with the leather bags and not the ones sold in outlet stores. There were some very nice vintage-looking pieces a couple of years ago.

You know what makes the best purse though? A shotgun shell bag. If Cabela's was still offering a certain leather one, I would still be carrying it. But Cabela's and Orvis still have some pretty nice ones.
posted by BibiRose at 3:19 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


And I agree that "frivolous spending" is all too often a misogynist charge. Not only is women's spending seen to be foolish and wasteful, it's always women who are told they should be spending their money on charity instead. Because spending money on yourself is selfish, amirite? Women should be sacrificing for others!

Did you actually read my comment, or the follow-up? I probably own more miniskirts than you do, and you will pry my mascara wand from my cold, dead hands. I am all for girly-ass frivolity! Jeez.

But earlier, I referred to reasonable frivolity, and that goes for men and women and everybody else. There is good silly shit to spend your money on, and bad silly shit. A pricey, designer handbag is bad silly shit. You could literally find something that looks just as good, if not better, for a hell of a lot less. Whatever little thrill you get from buying some label is going to be fleeting. You could spend that money on charity, or spend it on something better for yourself. (In the example I cited above, you could buy lots of silly dresses, for the cost of one silly handbag!)

This kind of fashion is a fucking racket, a con, a mug's game. You can tell yourself that it'll be worth something in 25 years (it probably won't be) or that the superior stitching makes it worth the extra price (it doesn't), but you are swallowing a big spoonful of sparkly crap.

I'm not going to criticize somebody for spending $350 on a closet's-worth of cute dresses, or an Xbox, because those things give you a lot of bang for the buck. You will be having actual fun with those things, for years. How much joy is one overpriced handbag really going to bring you? And how long will that high last, before you realize you got cheated?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:22 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


kinetic if it makes you feel better I have probably spent the equivalent of an average semester at a US non-state college on clothes and shoes and bags in the last 15 years and I have not a single regret about it, although I am a little annoyed that some of the best stuff no longer fits.
posted by elizardbits at 3:25 PM on July 22


Plenty of people earning less than that will drop way more than $300 over a few years

That sound you just heard was my father screaming CASH FLOW from the grave. I have $300 in spending money over the course of a few years, sure! Over the course of a single year, even. But I don't have $300 that I can give to someone all at once right now, without seriously denting my savings.

And I'm pretty sure nobody in this thread is thinking, oh, why don't they just put it on a credit card and pay for it in interest literally until they die.
posted by like_a_friend at 3:26 PM on July 22


It's a thread about consumption units and display. Mammering about consumption and display on either of the extreme ends of the consumption/display continuum is therefore not off the rails. The reason anybody buys a bag to schlep a hairbrush and screwdriver set around in, which bag costs more than basically nothing, is so that the person can transport necessary things from place to place without looking outre and drawing unfavorable attn. at the workplace. The reason you buy a seat on an airplane is to get somewhere. The reason somebody buys a first class seat on an airplane, though. The reason a person would spend thousands of dollars on a bag to schlep a hairbrush and screwdrivers in, though. Those are totally different reasons. The reason a person would do that is that the person wants to be and to display as the kind of person who can spend that kind of money on that kind of thing. (Exceptions, obviously, for Once In A Lifetime, For Deeply Personal Reasons purchases of things like that Mulberry bag, which I have to say manages to be really cool looking with all those buckles that should make it look absurd but somehow don't.) For the most part the kind of person who can spend that on that doesn't spend that on that. So ironically the way to aspire to be filthy rich is to eschew display. But revealing that would reduce consumption and cause a panic and a crash, so that's probably why hermes sent a catalog with pictures of $4,000 scarves and $6,000 thermoses to a student squat in 1989, or whenever it was. "This is what REAL people want. When you grow up, you're gonna want this stuff! Be sure to major in something legit and go to Hopkins for grad school and maybe one day you, too, will be able to afford one of our beautiful leather ashtrays." "Look, here we are galloping about in the ballet studio pretending to be horses, sorry, here are the people we paid to canter to amuuuuuse us, this is how we spend our shockingly wealthy time, mmha! mha, ha! Darling, pass me the thermos, I want to waft just the barest sip of civet cat coffee as I watch these manhorses cavort for our amusement, oh the ennui..." I swear, some of the stuff they're flogging makes it seem to me like they're making fun of out groups. I don't for an instant believe that on this earth there is or ever was a single filthy rich person who owned one of those Bette Midler things. No way.
posted by Don Pepino at 3:32 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


I have been inside the always dimly lit upper east side prewar apartments of the very rich and have Always been rich.

I have seen some design horrors and personal taste preferences that would shock the cat off a cat.

I swear the only reason to hand down furniture and rugs to your kids is to keep them from buying newer, uglier shit.
posted by The Whelk at 3:41 PM on July 22 [6 favorites]


I would also argue that neither Michael Kors nor Coach are truly luxury brands; they are middle class or "nice" brands. Wearing either is not "wrong" per se, but neither is daring, interesting, or groundbreaking. Just sufficient.

I once read a Vanity Fair piece about how Coach was the Hermes Bag of housekeepers. SLAP. God, Vanity Fair can be obnoxious. In a good way.

I disagree that the first time judgement entered this thread was the moment that someone suggested that $300 was an excessive price for a handbag. Every tenth comment in this thread is dripping with disdain for anyone who might think that spending $300 might be enough to get them into the club of the practically fashionable.
posted by geegollygosh at 3:42 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


> There is good silly shit to spend your money on, and bad silly shit. A pricey, designer handbag is bad silly shit

But I love bags and I hate mascara. Can I take the money you think is reasonable to spend on makeup, and allocate it to my bag budget?
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:43 PM on July 22 [12 favorites]


It's killing me that I can't remember what book or movie it was -- this would have been at least twenty years ago -- that had a character say that you can tell from how a woman looks after her purse just how she looks after her vagina.

Mine has an ink stain.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:47 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


I just went into my closet which right contains only the items most absolutely precious to me, like shoes, which I packed into the car when we moved just in case I had to fend off dysentery with a stiletto or try to hook in a fording oxen with a pump or something. Conservatively, there's like a thousand dollars (when purchased) of shoe in there. Which is horrifying, when I think about it like that, even though I've had some of them for over ten years now, even though some of them were gifts. But the money was spent on them, and it was spent because they're gorgeous or well made or on sale at DSW or because bridesmaid duties or because of professional attire or whatever. I probably spent $350 on Forever 21 between high school and college and I still have a couple of sundresses, which I love very much, but I'll be damned if I've ever loved anything else* I've bought as much as I love the power of certain shoes. So what does it matter why someone wants to spend $300 on a bag, if they can afford it? Sure, if they do an Ask, one could suggest alternatives-- different materials, different prices, different make. There are a lot of bags I wouldn't buy, and which I'd steer a friend away from. But I'm not going to judge what they get out of their stuff any more than I want them to judge mine.

*sorry, wedding dress still stuck in the moving truck
posted by jetlagaddict at 3:47 PM on July 22


I feel like this is a good place to remind people of the bespoke falconry playset from Neiman Marcus which we all enjoyed mocking last christmas.
posted by elizardbits at 3:49 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Hood B: Dutch hood made of rattlesnake with designer ostrich eye panels and a blue sapphire bead.

on the plus side I've just been reminded that there are falcons that are better dressed than I ever possibly could be, thanks elizardbits
posted by jetlagaddict at 3:50 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


see also: delightful related thread
posted by elizardbits at 3:52 PM on July 22


I'm not going to criticize somebody for spending $350 on a closet's-worth of cute dresses, or an Xbox, because those things give you a lot of bang for the buck. You will be having actual fun with those things, for years. How much joy is one overpriced handbag really going to bring you? And how long will that high last, before you realize you got cheated?

Can I ask how a closet full of "cute dresses" is more "fun" and "reasonable frivolity" than a bag?
posted by oneear at 3:52 PM on July 22 [11 favorites]


But if the dimly lit upper-east-side prewar apartments are hideous, too... then what is there to want? And if there is nothing worth wanting... then what am I doing? Answer me one thing: did you go into the shoe closets in the dimly lit et ceteras? What... what did you see?
posted by Don Pepino at 3:53 PM on July 22


Can I take the money you think is reasonable to spend on makeup, and allocate it to my bag budget?

I wasn't suggesting that it was better to spend $358 on a bunch of mascara. ($358 would buy me a lot of mascara, and it'd probably go bad before I could use it up.) I'm feeling like I keep being pushed to defend things I didn't say, or imply.

You can spend your money on whatever goofy shit you like. I'm not the boss of you.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:57 PM on July 22


Some cool bags here, in my uninformed male opinion. It may be that I'm attracted to the presentation and photography.
posted by quosimosaur at 3:57 PM on July 22


How much joy is one overpriced handbag really going to bring you?

Probably about as much joy as black leather motorcycle jackets have brought untold thousands of young men over the past 5 decades. And they don't even ride motorcycles, totally frivolous.
posted by fshgrl at 3:59 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


What... what did you see?

Sigh, original period moldings, high ceilings and hardwood floors.


*siiiiiigh*
posted by The Whelk at 3:59 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


The reason anybody buys a bag to schlep a hairbrush and screwdriver set around in, which bag costs more than basically nothing, is so that the person can transport necessary things from place to place without looking outre and drawing unfavorable attn. at the workplace.

I know you covered your tracks with that aside about having a bag that at least doesn't look outré, but this is like saying that the purpose of clothes is to keep you warm without exposing excess nakedness in public. I mean, true, but sometimes things look nicer and feel better, are better quality, and are more enjoyable to have than others, and sometimes those things cost ~$300. An inexpensive men's suit is $200, and no one claims that these sorts of things are out of reach of the average person.

What I gather from this thread is that some people really, really feel that spending more than $50 on a bag is a huge waste of money. That's fine. But somehow 120 million smartphones were sold last year, half of them iPhones, and meanwhile tens of millions of XBoxes and Playstations have been sold (plus games!) clearly not merely playthings of the wealthy.

A search for "men's leather briefcase" on shopping.google.com reveals the lowest priced option to be $175 from Barbour. Obviously there must be less expensive options, but clearly the low hundreds of dollars for durable leather goods is somewhat common.

I'm putting the "I would NEVER spend that much money on a bag" in the same category as "well I don't even own a TV!" when people talk about a TV show. Because you might not, but lots of other average people do.
posted by deanc at 4:00 PM on July 22 [13 favorites]


I mean really if you have anything in your home that cost $300, anything at all, then you have no leg upon which to stand. I include major appliances in this. What, you don't handwash everything in the tub with your granny's washboard using homemade lye soap? No one commenting on this site has lived a life free of luxury items.
posted by elizardbits at 4:06 PM on July 22 [8 favorites]


I mean really if you have anything in your home that cost $300

Or multiples of one item that add up to that much. You don't need that many shirts/socks/pans.
posted by jeather at 4:08 PM on July 22


"Will Smithers, like most of the overpaid and under-scrupulous bastards Arthur knew in advertising made a point of changing his car every August so that he could tell people his accountant made him do it, though the truth was that his accountant was trying like hell to stop him, what with all the alimony he had to pay, and so on..." -Hitchhiker's Guide
posted by Yowser at 4:09 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I'm sort of stumped that liking or not liking a particular purse is worth of some moral judgement. I don't get the hate on Coach or MK or people who buy a particular product.

I just bought a purple Madison tote because it was on sale (last season) and I didn't have bag that size. It's not an heirloom piece. I don't take my self worth from it. I've also been driving the same car for the last 14 years because I like the car and having 12 years of no-car payments is awesome. Neither of these purchase decisions is something that encompasses me.

It's just a purple frakkin' tote bag.
posted by 26.2 at 4:16 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I view (daily use) purses like I do my woodworking tools, kitchenware, and backpacking equipment: if it's well-designed and built to last, it's worth every penny. The item will be a pleasure to use, safer, and will last far, far longer than junky shit.

If a purse is sewn from quality leather, uses quality zippers and clasps, and is well-designed, it's easily worth a few hundred. Skilled people were involved and probably paid well. It isn't a piece of disposable Chinese shit made by slaves.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:25 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


How much joy is one overpriced handbag really going to bring you? And how long will that high last, before you realize you got cheated?

None ya business, and none ya DAMN business, in that order.
posted by ersatzkat at 5:02 PM on July 22 [7 favorites]


because it's dumb girl stuff

For real. There's no way in a million years that if I posted an FPP about a couple of reviews of mid-level fly fishing rods (for which $300 won't buy you a lot) that we'd have almost 400 comments and all this friction. That FPP might get 15 comments with some cool fishing stories, and maybe it would hit fifty comments if a couple people trolled in saying fishing is barbaric. And yet a purse has an everyday utility and social value, while I know lots of guys with basements full of rods who go fishing twice a year -- the difference, of course, is that one is "dumb girl stuff" and one isn't and there you go.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:09 PM on July 22 [24 favorites]


I get a fair amount of enjoyment out of a nice, daily-use handbag. If it meets my needs from a functional standpoint, then that functionally makes my life work better Like, right now I really like the cross-body bags, because I can grocery shop/run errands/carry heavy things without worrying about holding my purse in my hand/on my elbow/whatever. Also it's less wear and tear on my poor should.

The other thing is I hate switching bags day to day, so I want to have one that complements the clothes I wear and that I won't get sick of looking at. (Aside from not having the patience to constantly switch bags, inevitably I forget something when I do). It's an added bonus if I can find it in a fun color. Nothing like a brightly colored handbag to make your day a bit better (for me personally, at least).

I think Fossil handbags have a lot going for them. They're not cheap, but on sale you can get them from $50-$150 (depending on size), and on the whole they're made of really nice leather. The Fossil purses, wallets, and watches that I've owned have always held up super well too. They're not always super trendy, but I like the aesthetics of a lot of their pieces.
posted by litera scripta manet at 5:15 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


The ongoing costs of a pet are pretty steep, as well, even if we don't count for end-of-life vet care. Yet no one blinks an eye at the idea that people across the income spectrum have a pet dog or cat, and claiming that expensive veterinary treatment isn't worth the money is perceived to be a moral category just slightly above bilking widows out of their retirement funds.

Obviously, people have different utility functions regarding how they choose to spend their money, and dropping $300 on a bag might not be the wisest use of your money, but people have all sorts of personal indulgences. They just perceive those indulgences as things that are necessary. And at least the bag doesn't keep costing you money month after month.

I suspect that it's not so much that MeFites are more privileged or less privileged but that for a given income level, MeFi does not attract the sort of user who is that middle class office worker who buys those bags or designer sunglasses, because their disposable income goes towards other things that they consider more important.
posted by deanc at 5:40 PM on July 22


....I have some designer sunglasses.
posted by The Whelk at 5:43 PM on July 22


I'm not going to criticize somebody for spending $350 on a closet's-worth of cute dresses...

...Those dresses are like the exact definition of why spending $300 on a single luxury item can be a better purchase than a closet full of cloth. You know what would go perfectly with 10 of those dresses? A nice handbag that would still fit in ten years.
posted by maryr at 5:50 PM on July 22 [15 favorites]


My current bag is a hollowed-out possum carcass with wax paper interior. It gets a ton of comments. When I go out, people are always asking, "What is that?" Onlookers will turn to their companions and discreetly mutter, "Incredible." It has a lot of nice features, like the phone pouch and a tail. If I want to look extra cool, sometimes I'll place a cigarette behind one of its ears.

posted by compartment at 6:45 AM on July 22 [+] [!]


Um.

I feel like I should tell you. It's more or less fine for a starter piece- if that's the impression you're okay with, and don't mind paying what you pay- but possum is really starting to read as overexposed, lately.

Actually for kind of a while now, since they began farming them. It's not all that difficult tell the difference, honestly, if you have the chance for a side-by-side comparison. The older ones, pre-2004 or so, if you examine the lining closely (or better yet underneath), have this incredible grooved texture that really sings the uniqueness of each piece. And then, the scent: rich and microbial, with base notes of burnt rubber. Like nothing else. But you hardly see that kind of quality anymore, since possum really caught on.

The mercenary compulsion to reduce that kind of raw authenticity to the level of mass-production is awfully sad. Thank god, some things aren't completely degraded by the mainstream, yet.
posted by notquitemaryann at 5:59 PM on July 22 [18 favorites]


I was reading something recently about how some high-end consignment shops will take Dooney & Bourke handbags, but not the styles they sell on QVC, even though QVC sells some that are more than $400. That's probably relevant to something, somewhere in this thread.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:13 PM on July 22


If I'm being charged $250 for a bag, I'd expect it to be capable of giving me cunnilingus once daily.

What do you expect a bag costing $125 to do?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:16 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I can't understand anybody spending nearly $200 for an animal derived bag when the vegan alternatives are so much cheeper.
posted by maryr at 6:33 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


None ya business, and none ya DAMN business, in that order.

Now you're just getting unpleasant. It was a rhetorical question, and I wasn't getting all up in your business.

I'm out. Life is indeed too short.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:36 PM on July 22


There are some sellers on etsy who do really nice work although I can't remember any names offhand

i logged into etsy to find the names, immediately forgot what i was there for, and spent $100 on soap

cry
posted by elizardbits at 6:43 PM on July 22 [17 favorites]


I don't have a bag that costs over $300, but I have a bicycle that cost over $5000. And it's not even my everyday bike. I'm not judging anyone here for their bag purchases. Some bags are nice, and some are hideous, but that's just my opinion, and it should have as much validity to your life as that of any random stranger on the internet. I don't care what you paid for it. If anyone wants to judge me, bring it.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:00 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


What do you expect a bag costing $125 to do?


Cunnilingus every other day, obviously.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:02 PM on July 22 [10 favorites]


OKAY SO ETSY

DIaz Bags was the one I was initially thinking of, really nice leather stuff, I got my mom a briefcase from them and i just realized i have no idea where it is. huh

LittleOddForest makes really cute bags as well as other things

and as for non-purse stuff which deserves an honorable mention for awesomeness there is UNEARTHED, makers of seriously fucking glam accessories that are excellent quality and well worth the $$
posted by elizardbits at 8:00 PM on July 22 [5 favorites]


also i bought more soap
posted by elizardbits at 8:04 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


why didnt anyone stop me
posted by elizardbits at 8:04 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


I bought a handbag at this Etsy shop and I LOVE it!
posted by triggerfinger at 8:06 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


and as for non-purse stuff which deserves an honorable mention for awesomeness there is UNEARTHED

How dare you make me aware of this
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:08 PM on July 22


they have one in black crocodile that is a combo flask & cigarette case, i want to start smoking and drinking again just to use it
posted by elizardbits at 8:16 PM on July 22


How dare you make me aware of this

Wow, some of those cuff bracelets are really cool. (Not that they'd fit around my man-wrists.)
posted by Room 641-A at 8:19 PM on July 22


Those are some lovely etsy shops, elizardbits, but I really need to hear more about this soap.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:21 PM on July 22


Also, you are welcome to buy whatever soap you would like. It's your money, your body, and it's none of our business how much you smell like apples and cigars.
posted by maryr at 8:26 PM on July 22


Or whatever Etsy soap smells like. Doctor Who, maybe.
posted by maryr at 8:35 PM on July 22 [11 favorites]


liz I still have that weird soap you gave me if you're short on soap you can have it back

(I don't shower a lot sry)
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:38 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


they have one in black crocodile that is a combo flask & cigarette case [...]
posted by elizardbits at 2:16 PM on July 23 [+] [!]

There are some comments that "eponysterical" was just made for.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:46 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Am I the only one using this thread to get good tips on my next bag purchase? Like salamander, I've found prices in Australia to be outrageously expensive. No, I'm not spending $600 on a bag that my toddler will probably end up throwing up on. I take the point people are making about MK being stupidly priced for what you get. Assuming I don't care about brand cachet or bragging rights, can anyone recommend a bag brand that has good quality leather, will stand up to wear and tear and isn't too fugly? Someone mentioned Mandarin duck, which I will check out. More suggestions like that, please. Oh, and I love the look of Kate Spade bags but I'm not sure how easy they'll be to get in Australia. Ok, continue sniping...
posted by Jubey at 8:47 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I've managed to find a decent succession of anonymous thriftshop bags with good structural integrity. My life involves lots of dogs, rain, and eldercare. A bag holds my stuff, that's about it; there's no dress code for dog parks or ER waiting rooms.

It's just as well, I'm completely the wrong customer for A Nice Bag. A jaunty poo bag holder clipped to the strap would ruin any good designer's vision, and the dog would chew those delicious leather tassels right off.
posted by cmyk at 8:49 PM on July 22


Damn you people for getting me back on pinterest
posted by bq at 9:16 PM on July 22


I have a bag from Gianni Chiarini that is an excellent bag for the money. The lining is cotton and the leather is quite thin so its a cheaper bag but for the price, it's excellent. Hardware and stitching are solid and the leather cleans and conditions well. It smells nice, like good leather.

I over stuff mine to the point of abuse all the time, it's been soaked in water and generally abused and has held up like a champ. Made in Italy, which I prefer for ethical reasons. And they have nice practical classic designs. Nordstrom sells them in the US.
posted by fshgrl at 9:56 PM on July 22


Jubey, you're not alone. I want that Rag and Bone bag, the Longchamps bags, a bag from Duluth trading company, and some Coach bags.
posted by vespabelle at 10:01 PM on July 22


favourite soap makers include:

- Haunt is hands down my absolute favourite (she is no longer on etsy but has a bigcartel store for seasonal sales)

- sweet olive soapworks

- la pretentieuse

- twentyseven27

- ElegantRose

- i love daisycakessoap for the 1lb odds and ends bag of various soaps which are great for travel or going to the gym

- DirtyDeeds for shaving soaps that are so much better than shaving cream or gel

if you're short on soap you can have it back

i'm still working through soap i got in 2011 thx

posted by elizardbits at 10:14 PM on July 22 [10 favorites]


Jubey, I now think I'm an idiot for not looking on etsy sooner. Did you see that shop called Meidum that triggerfinger linked to? Their bags look way nicer than the mass-produced crap they'll try and sting you $299 for in Witchery (about which, by the way, my friend has a horrendous bag story, involving straps snapping off a leather bag after a month and Witchery wanting nothing to do with it).

Sadly, I actually can't recommend any bag stores in Australia, especially since Mimco started thinking they're YSL or something and pricing accordingly (not to mention their naff styling).

Not sure how much the shipping from Canada would set you back, though...
posted by Salamander at 10:46 PM on July 22


I am a horse

I just recently realized (in my early 30s) that taking a backpack to nice restaurants is sub-optimal, and that the cheap shoulder-strap purses my mom gave me fell apart because they were cheap, so this thread has been pretty informative.

But really I'm just here to link to this: I am a horse.
posted by daisystomper at 10:58 PM on July 22


Twenty years ago, I spent $85 on a purse, which seemed like a shockingly outrageous sum of money. About a month ago, I noticed that it was starting to get a little worn. After carrying it almost every day for literally twenty years. By my count, that is $4.25 per year, or just north of 35 cents per month.

My next purse will probably cost two or three hundred dollars. My expectation is that I will still be carrying it when they move me into the nursing home. Compared to what I spend on cable TV, internet, and the data plan for my phone, it's a pittance. I agree that designer brands that slap a logo on cheap crap and jack up the price deserve to be called out, but I strongly object to the idea that $300 is a definitionally stupid amount of money to spend on a purse.
posted by KathrynT at 12:02 AM on July 23 [6 favorites]


Hey purse lovers, you know how to gain sympathy? Don't call a goddamned possum carcass that costs more than a thousand dollars a "starter purse." Holy shit that's just looney toon land.
posted by Yowser at 1:34 AM on July 23


Oh please let that possum comment have been satire that I fell for.
posted by Yowser at 1:44 AM on July 23 [4 favorites]


Expensive bags as only a "woman thing" is definitely on the way out... check out carryology, which is a mostly (though not entirely) male community of people who love to talk about bags of all shapes and sizes that skew towards the "expensive" side of things.

My wife continually mocks me for being far more interested in bags than her.
posted by modernnomad at 2:12 AM on July 23


This Possum Fur, Paua Shell & Calf Pelt tote is only NZ$775, but not my style. Possum fur is the nicest fur I have ever touched for sheer soft fluffiness though.
posted by viggorlijah at 2:19 AM on July 23


Also someone upthread asked about 'non-leather' bags. Matt & Nat out of Montreal specializes in such 'vegan' products, for both women and men.
posted by modernnomad at 2:28 AM on July 23


But really I'm just here to link to this: I am a horse.[yt]

well, if that's where we're headed, Kristin Schaal is also a horse.
posted by Mchelly at 5:05 AM on July 23 [3 favorites]


I always forget about etsy, which is good because I spent way too long last night looking at waxed canvas bags of various kinds. Damn you all!
posted by rtha at 5:39 AM on July 23


I feel I should share a description of the bag I saw someone carrying on the subway this morning; cloth tote, leather handles, but the bag was printed with a fake "newspaper front page" on its face - an obviously joke paper with a fake name and a fake masthead. And the banner headline was "Corgi Eats Queen's Purse." And yes, there was a picture.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:10 AM on July 23


Oh wait here it is!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:11 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


Oh dang please don't get stuff made out of snake. Pythons are endangered in their native lands and the "harvesting" techniques are not very kind to say the least plus of course the Bette Midler factor.
posted by Don Pepino at 6:26 AM on July 23


Talking of man toys, you could buy three Balenciaga bags for this Breitling watch, but I guess blah blah blah engineering.
posted by Summer at 7:05 AM on July 23


Also for anyone who may have seen and been intrigued by those comic book purse photosets on tumblr, I saw someone carrying one the other day and the color had bled or rubbed off all over her clothing and she looked very unhappy about it.
posted by elizardbits at 7:08 AM on July 23


dammit elizardbits you had to post links to the soap people on etsy
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:13 AM on July 23


Just a note about the bag I bought from the etsy shop I linked - I bought it in February and I carry it everywhere and it's still in great shape. I bought the Max bag because it ticked all my boxes (slouchy hobo style, zippered top, comfortable shoulder strap, additional hanging strap that can be used to wear it cross body) and I've been really happy with it so far. This is my first expensive-ish handbag I've bought because I loathe spending so much money on something which for me is pretty utilitarian, but I was sick of my cheapo Target and TJ Maxx bags not lasting long. So I decided to spend a little bit more on the hope that it would be exactly what I want and also last a long time. I spent $218 on it and shipping from Canada to the US was $12. Happy customer so far!
posted by triggerfinger at 7:56 AM on July 23


Can't we just talk about shoes? (source)
posted by kat518 at 8:20 AM on July 23


So for those of you still left... Can anyone recommend a murse(manpurse) or tote bag that's cheap but durable? Leather or other, as long as it's not that tacky polished leather crap.
posted by Yowser at 8:34 AM on July 23


Possum fur is the nicest fur I have ever touched for sheer soft fluffiness though.

I don't think New Zealand possums are the same as North American possums, which accounts for some of the satire.
posted by maryr at 8:57 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


So for those of you still left... Can anyone recommend a murse(manpurse) or tote bag that's cheap but durable? Leather or other, as long as it's not that tacky polished leather crap.

My murse is a Tom Bihn. Very durable, modular (comes with multiple O-rings inside), flexible, attractive but not showy, made in the US of A. Comes in three sizes. I love mine... every little bit of it is well made. The Dyneema fabric used for the interiors is particularly lovely.
posted by selfnoise at 8:58 AM on July 23


(Also, see MetaTalk purse thread, linked upstream)
posted by maryr at 9:01 AM on July 23


Yowser - the Coach Map Bag is kind of an iconic man purse, in my view. There are some seriously attractive bags in the Fossil men's line, and Gap has a nice leather messenger right now.
posted by ersatzkat at 9:39 AM on July 23


I don't have the Bleeker Map Bag, but I do have the companion bag the Bleecker Legacy Courier. I haven't carried it frequently, but I do carry it on days when I want a less structured brief case. I think that bag is androgynous enough that men or women can carry it. Mr. 26.2 also carries a Bleeker Courier bag occasionally. Both of us have been pretty happy with it - no problems with the leather or stitching. Once you take the Coach leather hangtag off, it's an almost brandless bag. I always pull those key chain looking things off, but some people seem to leave them.

BTW - Many Coach bags go on the 40% off sale at the end of season. You can double up and use the 15-25% off promo they send in the mail. If you don't need it immediately, you could probably get that bag for $165 and not $368.
posted by 26.2 at 10:23 AM on July 23


BTW - Many Coach bags go on the 40% off sale at the end of season.

Good point. If you're not super picky about color lots and lots of leather bargains can be had if you check the clearance sales. (Running shoes, too!)
posted by Room 641-A at 10:40 AM on July 23


Kate Spade has wonderful deals during their Surprise sales, which can be up to 75% off-- so many of the bigger bags are still expensive, but slightly more reasonable!
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:10 AM on July 23


I always pull those key chain looking things off, but some people seem to leave them.

Ha - the only thing I've EVER had stolen from my room over decades of travel - staying in Venice, someone took the little shiny Coach tag off a handbag that was in my suitcase.
posted by ersatzkat at 11:23 AM on July 23


I saw one of these bags in the wild today. It looked smart, and was large enough to hold all her things. It made me think thoughts about a new purse. This thread is going to have all of us getting them before the month is out.
posted by stoneweaver at 1:27 PM on July 23


You don't pick up a purse in the shop, put it on, look in the mirror and spin around and think, "Oh damn. My legs just grew three feet, yessir," or, alternatively, kick the shoes across the room and think, "God above, what are you thinking, Monkey Feet. Get the hell off me, 'fresh peeptoes for summer frolics.'" The bag changes, but it doesn't change you.

Hallucinogenic drugs bit upthread aside, I totally try on purses. Certain details and sizes definitely look better on me than others, even assuming that I'll be wearing them with lots of different things. I'm 5'9" barefoot, busty, and have a really broad back/upper arms for a woman, and the kinds of straps that people with much slenderer upper bodies than mine just gracefully slide onto their shoulders can make me look like the Hulk trying to wriggle out of a blood pressure cuff. Never mind doing so over a winter coat.

Similarly, the medium or small version of a bag that looks really nice on some of my petite friends might make me look as if I'm carrying a child's purse. In fact, since most pictures of me traveling, hanging out with friends, etc. are from the waist up, a purse's proportions can have a much greater effect on how I end up looking than a pair of shoes. (Not that I don't love shoes...)

I own that I might be strange and more or less alone in doing/caring about this.
posted by Austenite at 4:45 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


Look I know this is a thing and that some people are merely wealthy while others are astronomically, untouchably wealthy, but I'm sorry, if you make more than...shit, I dunno like 200K a year? You're fucking loaded and that's pretty much that. I only go up to 200K because I'm feeling exceptionally generous to people with kids in shitty housing markets.

I think this is part of why the thread has gone so far off the rails--this concept that anyone who makes less than Trump is "middle class." It is the only framework in which "a $300 bag is a cheap piece of tacky-wannabe-middle-class-people crap" even is a concept that parses.


Thiiiiiiiiiis. I was totally amazed by the AskMe from a few weeks ago where a number of people pointed out to a 30-year-old that his $125,000 in savings was "not that much". !
posted by threeants at 5:34 PM on July 23 [7 favorites]


That's interesting (and I mean that genuinely). Most of the young women I see working office jobs in the city here all seem to carry the same kind of bag. Not Coach/Kors, but a local brand that I know starts at around $250-$300.

Hi Salamander - sorry, left the thread, and missed this follow up.

I'm surprised that women in Western Australia do spend that much - it's something I associate with New York. Maybe it's a local cultural thing.

Or maybe it is industry/position specific. Most women I know in office jobs are administrative (bookkeepers as opposed to accountants, office managers, etc), or professors/academics (and academia has its own dress codes which can discriminate against women who dress too well). Admin people are expected to look somewhat dressy, but not high formal unless they work in the financial district. My mom's been an admin person for a fiber glass manufacturer, a food importing company and, until recently, was a bookkeeper at a museum consulting firm - and the main restriction has been that she can't wear regular crocs while working, but dressy crocs are just fine. (Yes, they make ballet flat crocs. They are apparently very comfortable - my mom loves hers).
posted by jb at 6:45 PM on July 23


My current bag is The Bag of Holding from think geek. And my mother wonders why I never fit in at the DAR....
posted by dejah420 at 9:07 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


"...the medium or small version of a bag that looks really nice on some of my petite friends might make me look as if I'm carrying a child's purse." Huh! Okay, I see. I also see that purse/bag need, and therefore want, is regional and has a lot to do with whether you have a car that you use as a miniature closet/medicine cabinet. I have learned hugely much.

I still think this: "[the mindset that believes] anyone who makes less than Trump is 'middle class' [...] is the only framework in which 'a $300 bag is a cheap piece of tacky-wannabe-middle-class-people crap' even is a concept that parses" reveals a blindered and dangerously incomplete vision of the world of aspirational consumption. Dangerous in that it could lead more than zero people to spend vastly more money than necessary to achieve baseline joy. Or, worse, get more than zero people to buy things made out of snake or by enslaved toddlers, thereby consigning their immortal souls to the Lake of Fire. Nearly all of the stuff, the stuff on the high end of the sub-Trump wealth continuum included, is made in China. (Source: my friend with whom I went to the Roger Ebert documentary Tuesday who saw it on Frontline or somewhere. She said Hermes was the only big name designer who was still handmaking everything, everything else is slavemade, fageddaboutit. She doesn't understand any of it, including shoes. I explained shoes to her, and she agreed with people here that I had probably been confusing shoes and hallucinogens. Whatever. She went to Bryn Mawr, and this stuff is more Smith. So I don't expect her to understand.) My point is this: Don't want the damn $6,000 Thermos. Then you will see how easy it is not to want the $50 Thermos. Don't want the $1,200 bag, don't want the $300 bag, don't want the $20 Target bag. Don't want a bag. You might have to need one, but you don't have to want one. (I mean, unless you only ever wanted one because it Symbolizes Something--that's totally different and is another thing I learned that I didn't know before.) (and in that case it might be possible to save a ton of cash and feel not just good but like a superhero if you can find the stupid middle school talisman at the Goodwill for $2.99 like sister nunchaku of love and mercy did with the Aigners.
posted by Don Pepino at 10:43 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


Wow, I'm a graduate student in a pretty depressed area, and as such make about 17k a year. I just saved up a bit of extra money to buy a used Coach purse off of Craigslist that I was pretty excited about, right up until this thread took the wind right out of my sails (and I was so excited about owning my first nice piece of clothing).
posted by Shouraku at 1:28 PM on July 24


Shouraku, you should feel awesome because you bought it used off Craigslist and are therefore not complicit in any toddler enslavement plus you saved up for it instead of buying it on credit. Besides, as a grad student in a pretty depressed area who very sensibly wanted to own a single, first nice piece of clothing, it symbolizes The Time to Come after grad school, when things will be different and more stable and less hand-to-mouth. It should last you years and years and make you feel fantastic the whole time. You therefore belong in the superhero category. (Also, if you want to show it off, the MetaTalk spinoff about this is where to go--there are no pinko spoilsports wrecking the fun in there.)
posted by Don Pepino at 1:43 PM on July 24 [9 favorites]


Thank you Don Pepino, you made me tear up a bit! Also, I didn't know about the purse thread. I'll have to see if I can take some PurseShots and contribute.
posted by Shouraku at 3:03 PM on July 24


I really wasn't kidding about the current bag being the Handbag of Holding, but I will admit that I lusted after a Birkin bag. At $18,000 US, I was not ever going to own one, but I found a knockoff on Ebay that looked exactly like the bag I wanted, minus the branding stuff, which I didn't want, and frankly I find offensive. (I mean, I don't want to advertise for anyone, and so don't buy clothes/accessories/etc., that have any obvious branding, but jesus onna stick, if you're putting down 20 grand on a bag, that they put obvious branding on it is just...eww.)

I think there was a thread, gosh probably a decade back, about knockoff bags, and people got really upset that I was proud of my knockoff, but I tell ya, a decade later, that $50 dollar bag is still in rotation, and has held up better than the brand bag carried by the COO of the company for which I consulted at the time.

Point being; if you like a certain bag style, and you don't care about branding, the same factories that make the bag you like, make that bag without the branding, and I've yet to see one that crossed the $125 line.
posted by dejah420 at 4:27 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Even when I buy a "nice" thing, it's the WRONG nice thing.

You do realize that resolving this fundamental anxiety would bring the entire consumer economy to it's knees and the world as we know it would end, right? *

*says she who buys expensive shoes+handbags and cheap clothes at Forever21. Most days I can barely look myself in the mirror.
posted by space_cookie at 6:33 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


Salamander, thanks for the tip - I missed that one. Dejah420, can you really get the same bags without the branding (unless they're very discreet, I really hate logos and crap all over what I wear) and if so, where can I get them?
posted by Jubey at 10:31 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Jubey, it won't be a "Chanel" or " Gucci ", but yes if you know what bag you are trying to find a clone for, eBay can be a good spot. If you live in a largeish metro area, there's almost always a permanent indoor flea type market where a ton of Chinese bags can be found.

Basically, since everyone but Hermes has outsourced production to china, and there are limited regulations on style reproduction in the Chinese garment production lines, most factories who turn out Gucci and the like, will begin production of no brand versions of the same bag one season after the brand intros them.

Also, oddly enough, those peddlers who work hair salons and nail salons will often have a giant box of knockoff bags, but those are more often than not counterfeit (ie vanity branding is attached), rather than no brand knockoffs.
posted by dejah420 at 4:54 PM on July 25


I live near a Michael Kors store so I've seen the Sophie in the window. I went by yesterday and it looks like the Hamilton Traveler is the new Sophie.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:29 PM on July 28


Possible solution to the problem of overspending on fashion items from Sara Pascoe.
posted by asok at 5:09 AM on August 7


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