In today’s fresh Closet Confessionals, we meet a late-thirties collector who hails from Long Island, New York. This confessor first fell in love with bags when a Coach bag stole her heart at the local mall when she was just a teen. She admits that in that moment alone, her penchant for handbags was formed. Having been a collector of luxury bags for quite some time, this confessor has grown her collection to include some pretty enviable bags from Louis Vuitton, Dior, Chanel, Stella McCartney and more. More recently this collector transitioned to a vegan lifestyle, and since then she has slowly begun to transition her wardrobe over as well. Finding Chanel bags that are made of animal-free materials is one challenge that she’s happy to accept, enjoying the thrill of the hunt and the fruits of her labor! Though this confessor admits there was once a time when her shopping had gone a little overboard, these days she writes down her wants and waits a bit before buying them, but only if they’re within her means! Read the full CC now and don’t forget to submit your own.
Gender Identity: Female
Location: Long Island, NY
Household Income: $220,000
Are you a PurseForum member? Yes
How many bags do you own? 15
What bags are in your collection?
Chanel Wallet on Chain, black caviar leather
Chanel mini square, navy chevron caviar leather
Chanel Classic double Flap, navy quilted grosgrain
Vintage Chanel Pagoda Flap, black lambskin
Dior Miss Promenade chain bag, black patent leather
Dior Be Dior double flap bag, black leather
Vintage Lady Dior, medium, olive patent leather
Louis Vuitton Speedy Bandouliere 25 Mon Monogram
Louis Vuitton Alma PM, Damier Ebene
Vintage Louis Vuitton Cannes vanity bag in tassili yellow epi leather
Stella McCartney Falabella, small, deep brown
Stella McCartney Falabella, small, sand
Gucci Soho Disco, rose beige
Vintage Celine box bag, burgundy
Ferragamo Earth Top Handle bag, cork
How much is your collection worth? $27,600
What is your most expensive bag? My vintage Chanel black Pagoda bag. I didn’t realize this until I priced everything out — I love the wavy leather pattern on this bag and the grosgrain trim. I was on the hunt for this bag for a while. When it popped up on an expensive reseller site, I had to have it!
What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? I find joy in using and looking at all of my bags, but currently I favor my Ferragamo Earth bag, my grosgrain Chanel Classic Flap, and my Stella McCartney bags. Why? They’re all vegan bags! A few years ago, I switched to a vegan diet. I’ve slowly begun to transition my wardrobe to all vegan materials. Accidentally vegan Chanel bags like my grosgrain Classic Flap — which is non-leather inside and out — are very difficult to find, but I love the challenge! If you spot any on resale sites, call me! The Ferragamo Earth bag is my most recent purchase; it’s made entirely from woven Tuscan cork and lined in linen. The cork feels delicious to the touch — like suede. I joke that it smells like sustainability.
What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? When I was around 16, my mom dropped me off at the mall and I immediately spotted what I thought to be the most beautiful bag I had ever seen. It was a small, crescent-shaped Coach shoulder bag with a pink and white CC canvas pattern and white leather trim. I spent all of my mall money right then and there. It didn’t matter that the bag didn’t go with anything in my wardrobe. I probably used it a handful of times, but I would often pull it out of its dust bag just to admire the light pink CCs. In those moments, a handbag enthusiast was formed.
Is there a specific bag you are looking to purchase next? Due to my vegan lifestyle, I’m focusing on buying non-animal derived bags from now on. As mentioned previously, I’m always on the hunt for preowned, accidentally vegan Chanel bags. Years ago I found a Chanel mini square bag made entirely of black grosgrain on TheRealReal for a great price, but I let it get away. I also have my sights set on a larger Stella McCartney Falabella in navy blue.
Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? My Louis Vuitton Speedy in Mon Monogram was my first true luxury handbag purchase. I always liked the Speedy design, but I like to have something slightly different than everyone else. When I learned that LV offered a customization service where you could choose a monogram, a colored stripe, and an interior color for your bag, I thought this sounded like the perfect way to make my bag unique. I purchased the bag the same year I got married and chose my wedding colors — purple and grey. The bag is lined in purple, which makes me ridiculously happy.
Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? Not really, unless I’m shopping in a luxury store. In those instances, SAs usually notice my bag and compliment me.
How often do you buy new bags? When I was building my collection I would buy 3-4 bags per year, but I’ve slowed down to buying 2 bags per year.
Which stores do you frequent the most? None! I don’t live very close to luxury stores, which is ultimately a good thing. A few years ago I would visit Saks Fifth Avenue to see bags in person, but I rarely purchase bags on impulse, so these trips were more for research purposes.
Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? Buying second-hand and vintage bags is my favorite! There are so many unique bags out there, and I like being part of the circular economy. I used a variety of websites to buy my bags — eBay, The RealReal, Rebag, Vestiaire Collective, What Goes Around Comes Around, and I once used an Instagram reseller.
Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? Not often, but I have. I sold my vintage Chanel quilted classic flap bag because I felt like it just wasn’t my style. I promptly bought my vintage Chanel Pagoda flap in its place. This bag is much more me. I recently sold my seldom used mini Lady Dior in order to buy the Ferragamo Earth Bag. In both instances I used reselling sites since I’m not an experienced reseller.
Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? I’d like to say no, but when I watch one too many unboxing videos on YouTube, I notice that I have more of an urge to buy and unbox a bag myself.
Do you consider your bag purchases investments? Definitely not. I buy luxury bags for the quality and timeless designs. I always ask myself when I’m considering buying a bag — will I still want to wear this in 10 years? 20 years? In this sense, I’m “investing” in my wardrobe, but I never view my purchases as sound financial investments.
Who influences your buying decisions? I’d like to say no one, but that’s not true. Since I gravitate towards vintage bags and quirky designs, I’m not often influenced, but I can think of two random examples:
1) Years ago I was binge watching Gossip Girl and fell in love with the red LV Cannes Vanity bag that Blair used on trip. After a frenzied search, I purchased my yellow LV Cannes Vanity bag a few days later off of eBay.
2) The movie Atomic Blonde showcased some of my favorite fashion moments of all time. Charlize Theron is decked out in vintage and current Dior throughout the film. When I was searching for a semi-affordable, semi-practical black bag, I stumbled upon the Be Dior bag on a resale site. I realized one reason I liked it was because this is the one and only bag Charlize carries throughout the movie. Sold!
Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? Not really. I largely buy online and on resale sites.
Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? I love the thrill of the hunt. I like learning about a certain bag and researching all aspects before I purchase. In the past, I’ve definitely made too many bag purchases close together, but I’ve slowed down considerably.
Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? I look much younger than my age; in the past when I walked into luxury stores I got the sense that SAs wouldn’t pay much attention to me since I can pass for a teenager. This doesn’t happen often anymore — partially because I don’t frequent boutiques, and partially because . . . I finally look older?!?
Who pays for your bags? Me! One Christmas, my husband bought me a bag and I bought him a watch. Otherwise, I have purchased all of my bags myself.
Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? I used to be very good at this. During the first years that I was building my collection, I would pick out which bag I wanted to buy, divide the price buy 12, and put away a set amount of money each month. At the end of the year, I would buy said bag. Now I have a general “luxury” account that I add money to whenever I can.
The Taboo Topics
Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? No. To me, there’s nothing appealing about buying a counterfeit bag. I buy bags for the quality, the design, the history, the heritage. Plus, when you buy counterfeit bags you are often unknowingly funding other illegal activities.
Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? I’m not proud of it, but I did hide two Dior bags from my husband for a number of months before I finally showed them to him. I was disappointed in myself because I had purchased them a few weeks apart, and they were both impulse purchases — a rarity for me. Fortunately, I learned my lesson and hit the brakes on my bag obsession after that.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? I often joke that I’m going to wear a shirt that says “Will work for bags!” In reality, I don’t usually do crazy things to acquire bags. I will budget tightly in almost every other area I can in order to afford a bag that I have my sights set on.
Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? See hiding bags from spouse section above. During that time, I was addicted to the high of luxury shopping. At the end of that year I totaled up all of the money I spent on luxury items, and I was dumbfounded. While I’ve never gone into debt for luxury, I realized my spending was verging on reckless — I could have spent that money on more useful things, like major home repairs or vacations. I also took a picture of every luxury item I purchased that year, all in a pile, to remind myself how out of control I was. Now I’ve reverted back to my old method of writing down everything I would like to buy, and waiting for a month or two before reviewing. Ninety percent of the time I don’t want the item anymore. If I still do, I’ll buy it if it’s within my means.
The Rest Of It
Any other expensive hobbies or passions? I love vintage fashion. I’m seriously considering pursuing a second master’s degree in Fashion History.
Anything else you would like to include? Writing this confessional has been an eye-opening retrospective into my love of handbags. I’m happy to have found so many like-minded and knowledgeable handbag fans here and on TPF. It’s comforting to know I’m definitely not alone!