How much is too much to spend on a designer hand bag? An Hermes’ Birkin just sold at auction for more than $80,000. Is that too much to pay? It was made of genuine crocodile and had a diamond studded clasp, still too much? Believe it or not, that is not the most expensive bag available, not even close. Forbes recently put out a list of the world’s most expensive handbags, at $80,000 that silver Birkin did not even make the top 5.
So what is the phenomenon with outrageously priced designer bags? Is there any limit to their extraordinary prices or to their appeal. Well, I guess that depends on who you ask. I don’t think my mom ever paid more than thirty or forty dollars for a hand bag. She seems perfectly happy and always has a place for her wallet, pack of Kleenex and her cell phone. It does the job. I can’t imagine my mom ever looking longingly at someone else’s Louis Vuitton tote. She is too much of a practical Yankee to ever consider spending hundreds never mind thousands on something so unimportant.
Yet for others the hand bag takes precedent over everything else. I once witnessed a mother rebuke her teenage daughter for spending $450 on several articles of rather practical clothing saying, “Four hundred and fifty dollars! You could have bought a hand bag for that much!” When did this turn take place? When did a handbag become more important than back to school clothes? When did teens become the sensible ones and adults go over the deep end?
Obviously the women who can afford to spend tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands on a single handbag live in world very different than the rest of us, with their own motives and rationale that the rest of us may never understand.
So what about the rest of us? Those of us that are willing to save our money or cut our budgets elsewhere so we can afford a Louis Vuitton or a Coach bag, how do we know what’s a good investment and what’s just paying too much? A classic handbag in a neutral color is going to give you more mileage than a trendy bag in a seasonal color way. You’re paying not only for the name but for the design and most of these bags are designed with great attention to detail. The perfect bag for you is one that suits all your needs, not only aesthetic. It should be of a size and shape that’s fits you comfortably. Most women are more comfortable with a bag they can carry on their shoulder and that is slim enough to sit under their arm. Even a small bag should have compartments to accommodate all your stuff and to keep essentials within easy reach.
If you prefer a bag that grabs attention or is more about the current trends than longevity your investment might seem to be short lived, remember the Louis Vuitton cherries of a few years ago? Even these flash in the pan trends can be saved, clean ’em up, put ’em in their dust jackets and stash it in the back of your closet. In a few years these currently trendy bags can be very retro chic. A good quality bag will last for years.
So where are the best deals? Buying from an authorized dealer has definite advantages. First being the service. The service you receive in a store like Channel is a part of the experience of buying and owning a designer bag. You can shop all their styles and see which one truly suits you in a way you can not when buying online. Also you know that what you are buying is the genuine article. The after care can often justify paying a premium price. The better design houses will take care of your purchase for its lifetime. Being able to register it with the company can help if you ever need to submit an insurance claim if it is ever lost or stolen.
Sales don’t just happen at discount stores but you will rarely see one advertised at any important designer’s store. To get the inside track on the good sales you have to have a connection. (See my earlier posts on shopping sales.) Having a relationship with your sales person will get you tipped off when your coveted clutch hits the markdown sheet. At the premium brands all the great sale deals go to their clients and the general public never even knows it’s happened. At Giorgio Armani the first day of the sale 90% of all the mark downs are already sold, having been waiting on hold in the back room with a name and credit card number waiting for the big day. By the time you hear of it, if you hear of it, all the best pieces are gone. The “clients” scooped them up weeks earlier. Why? Because they got a phone call inviting them to come pre shop the sale.
If you prefer finding great deals on-line there are plenty of options though not all are legit. There is a lot of fraud going on out there. Many online sellers represent counterfeit bags as the real McCoy and getting your money back from a criminal like that, well, good luck. Doing your research here is very important. There are lots of e-bay sellers offering deals on legitimate products. E-bay is a great place to buy vintage bags. With so many buyers only interested in “New with tags” you can pick up a used bag for pennies on the dollar and having that patina of use adds to the look. It also shows that your bag, while not off the lot new, is genuine. Fake bags don’t age well real bags age beautifully.
There is another on-line option, rent the bag! There are several companies offering new bags for rent! If you love the idea of growing a collection that you can pass down this is not the option for you. If you always want the newest and the best and then move on to the next this can be a great way to save some money. Rather than paying thousands for tomorrow’s cast off you can spend a couple of hundred, use it for a month or two, send it back and get something completely different. This idea would definitely throw my mom’s head into a tail spin, hundreds of dollars for a handbag for a MONTH! But if you are spending thousands and only using your purchases for a season anyway, it would actually save you loads of money. For many hand bag renters it’s the only way they can afford the real thing, it could be a great option for going to an event. Who wouldn’t like to walk into their high school reunion with an Hermes’ Birkin on her arm, no one there needs to know she couldn’t possibly afford it. It is better to have the real thing for one month than to have