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In today’s installment of Closet Confessionals, we meet a collector who has begun her descent into Hermès land after years of collecting. This handbag lover’s penchant for luxury bags is innate, in fact, she attributes her lust of luxury from her family members who would often gift her with bags when she was younger. These days, she buys her own bags, carefully saving and budgeting for them, though she does cite that her most important piece is a Chanel bag that was gifted to her by her husband. Prior to collecting Hermès, this Californian, by way of the Philippines, amassed a collection of some of the handbag world’s most prized classics from Chanel, Celine, Balenciaga and Givenchy. Now that she has established herself as an H-client, this confessor realizes the importance of a good SA relationship and has since begun to enjoy the shopping experience as a whole.

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The Basics

Age: 35
Gender Identity: Female
Location: San Francisco, California
Occupation: Office Manager
Industry: Finance
Salary: $125,000
Household Income: $350,000

The Bags

Are you a PurseForum member? Yes

How many bags do you own? 14

What bags are in your collection?

Balenciaga, City bag (brown)
Celine, medium Classic (forest green)
Chanel, medium Classic (black/gold)
Chanel, medium Coco (chevron, black/gold)
Chloe, small Marcie (brown)
Dior, Panarea tote (beige)
Givenchy Antigona (blue/silver)
Gucci camera bag (beige)
Hermès, Picotin 18 (tri-color)
Hermès, Evelyne 29 (gold/gold)
Lanvin, Amelia tote (black/gold)
LV Ponchette Metis (black leather/gold)
Wandler, small Luna bag (maroon)
Wandler, small Billy (dark blue)

How much is your collection worth? Approx between $25,000-30,000

What is your most expensive bag? The medium Classic Chanel bag.

What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? Right now, it’ll be the classic Chanel bag. A gift from my husband.

What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? Does Esprit de Corp count? If it does, then that Navy blue backpack from Esprit would be it, lol. My late grandma gifted me my very first bag at I believe grade 3 or 4. It was an Esprit de Corp back pack and I loved it to bits. That sort of was my introduction to handbags. I was born and raised in the Philippines, and growing up, family from the US would go home and bring goodies for us and for some reason, my grandma, aunts and cousins would always give me a handbag and really nice ones so, growing up, I didn’t feel the need to buy. Backpacks in my elementary and high school days, then lady bags from Coach, Kate Spade and Dooney & Bourke when I hit the university and even early career days. Looking back, I think the love for handbags was passed on to me haha.

When I moved to the US, the very first bag that I purchased was a Tory Burch crossbody which was stolen when someone walked into our office and grabbed the items, the bag was unfortunately, one of them. I was able to buy a Dior tote from that gift card and that sort of started the annual lux bag treat for me.

Is there a specific bag you are looking to purchase next? I’m currently saving and waiting for a K25 or 28 at the moment. I don’t plan on buying anything else before and most likely after that (hopefully haha).

Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? All of them are special to me as each purchase came with a story, but if I have to pick ones that have the “sentimental value” it’ll be the following:

– The Medium Classic bag, was a wedding anniversary gift from my husband. We got it on Valentine’s Day because he remembered that I’m not into bouquet of flowers, he thought the flower from the packaging would do the trick… six years later, I still look at the same camellia flower say it’s the best hearts day flower ever haha.

– The Antigona bag, reminds me of our very first trip to Paris.

– Dior bag reminds me of my old team who came together and gifted me with a gift card to replace my tory Burch purse that was taken/stolen in our office.

Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? Depends. If I walk into a boutique, sure. At work, I’m lucky enough to work with a team of mostly guys so they hardly pay attention to what bag I’m currently using, my family and friends knows but they hardly care, I also have family and friends who also love and collect bags so they understand, and then I also know people who are familiar with bags but don’t get what the deal is and so they’d form an opinion. Personally, I learned not to pay any attention and not take the comments seriously, because paying attention would mean that I’m doing this to please those people instead of my weird love for beautifully handcrafted handbags.

The Shopping

How often do you buy new bags? Once, maybe twice each year. Depends on the bag(s) that I’ve got my eyes on.

Which stores do you frequent the most? Recently, it would be my local H store.

Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? I haven’t. I like to look at the bags I’ve got my eye on in person before pulling the trigger and to be honest, I’m a bit scared to venture and for the most part, the prices aren’t far from buying brand new (at least for the items that I like).

Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? I have, once on eBay and I don’t think I’ll ever do it again. I’d rather hoard my bags after dealing with crazy buyers. It was too stressful.

Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? No. like I said, I buy the bags that I love, because I love them, not because of Instagram or social media (frankly, it’s a bit off putting when I see the same bag on every influencers on every platform).

Do you consider your bag purchases investments? If you look at the math (and I work with a bunch who analyze markets for a living), not really haha. Hermès is probably the only exception to this, but even then I’d still put an asterisk to it.

Who influences your buying decisions? Me. myself and I 🙂

Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? Before venturing into the H territory, I would’ve said no, but where I am at this point, I’d say yes, for obvious reasons. I didn’t consciously tried to form a relationship with a store SA when purchasing my bags because for the most part, when I walk into the store, I just zero in on where the bag is and then talk to the first SA who would approach me. It’s a different story with H where they would prefer that you work with the same person and that took some time for me to get used to, but I’m lucky enough to meet and connect with my SA who’s been really nice to me. I’m not pressured into buying things that I don’t like and if I do want something, she makes time for me or if it’s not available, then she finds it for me and I have the choice of getting it delivered or visit the store. It’s also just not a completely transactional experience when I go in to pick up something, I feel like we can talk about things like work, kids, where we want to go when it’s allowed (safe topics, nothing too personal) and I find myself enjoying the store experience compared to the very first time I walked into the store.

Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? I don’t consider myself a shopaholic. I do buy to enjoy the things that I buy. It’s mostly an annual (if I’m lucky it’s a bi-annual) treat for me. It’s something for me to work hard and look forward to. I don’t buy on a whim, I do set a budget that I stick to as I’m fully aware that the bags that I like to buy aren’t cheap and on top of that, I have other bigger priorities to take into account.

Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? I have once, at the Saks store here in SF, I walked in after a Barry’s workout (I promise, I took a shower after lol) fully intending to buy a Celine bag at that store, but I guess the SA’s were too busy chatting amongst themselves to pay attention to me, which felt weird but I got over it, it looked like they weren’t interested in my business so I left and immediately went to Neiman’s, luckily the SA there was not busy and was eager to help me.

The Money

Who pays for your bags? Aside from the one Chanel bag from my husband, it’s mostly me.

Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? YES. Rule of thumb for me is to save as if I’m buying a classic Chanel bag, but try to only use half (emphasis on try). Well, I guess I have to change that rule this year ha!

The Taboo Topics

Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? No, not worth it. Nicest answer I can say is maybe start with something you can actually afford [instead of] one that you can’t at the moment.

Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? No.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? A 3rd money market savings account named “Mommy’s treat fund” haha.

Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? No.

The Rest Of It

Any other expensive hobbies or passions? Treats for my kiddos and Road Biking/Cycling hobby that my husband and I have taken to during the pandemic. Safe to say that Rapha has officially taken over my lululemon drawer haha.

Anything else you would like to include? Thanks for reading about my handbag collection. It’s definitely not much but I’m really happy with what I have and enjoy each of them. They’re an accumulation of years of work, milestones, for me and the stories for each of the bags are ones that I hold dear.

To anyone starting a collection, don’t let social media influence you, use it to do your research 🙂 Find the balance between what you love and what economically makes sense to you and definitely enjoy the journey along the way 🙂

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