In today’s installment of Closet Confessionals, we’re checking in with a young collector hailing from Vienna by way of London. This wise collector enjoys everything that goes into shopping for (and loving) designer bags, carefully curating her collection and appreciating every single piece she has. Because her collection is well thought out, this confessor doesn’t resell bags in order to fund new purchases, and though the resale market doesn’t scare her as she enjoys purchasing pre-loved bags, she prefers to do so in-store versus online. A true bag lover at her core, like many of us this confessor didn’t grow up living the luxe life, rather she fell in love with bags thanks to a stylish Aunt. This confessor has been lucky enough to receive some of her bags as gifts, but she also buys them herself, al the while carefully watching her spending and only buying bags that fill a need within her collection. This CC is well thought out, and truly honest. Read the full story below and please be sure to submit your own!
Gender Identity: Female
Location: Vienna, Austria (until recently London, UK)
Occupation: Currently student. I was working at an embassy in London, but I decided to go back to university for an economics MSc. I had job offers for part-time positions while I would study, but unfortunately they were all withdrawn when corona happened. So I am currently living off savings, but I hope that will change soon 🙂 The salary I am listing below is what I earned previously! (My ego didn’t let me put zero, sorry)
Household Income: $70,000
Are you a PurseForum member? Yes
How many bags do you own? 16
What bags are in your collection?
Chloé Paddington, baby blue (my 1st designer bag)
Chloé Marcie, cream
Chloé Madeleine, vernis petrol
Chloé Nile, motty grey
Proenza Schouler, PS1 black leather & cotton philodendron plant print
Balenciaga, Motorcycle bag, dark silver
MiuMiu Matelassé leather “shoulder” bag, black (a “meh” bag)
Fendi Baguette, jeans with white daisies embroidery
Stella McCartney Falabella, SHW & dark grey
LV Noé, burgundy epi leather (the indestructible work horse)
Burberry Country animal clutch (fox head), beige suede & dark brown leather (look it up!! It’s gorgeous)
Givenchy Small Antigona, blue-ish teal
Chanel Small Flap Bag, GHW & dark purple caviar (wait for the story behind it^^)
Manu Atelier Cylinder, brown embossed “python” leather (<3)
Manu Atelier Mini Pristine, white, black & red colour block
By Far Rachel, neon pink (massively disappointing bag)
Yuzefi Mini Delila, blush & nude colour block
How much is your collection worth? About 15 000 EUR, but I hardly payed full price for any of them and some are second hand. I’d say some family members and I payed about 8 000 EUR overall? Give or take.
What is your most expensive bag? According to the bag price when newly bought, it would be my LV Noé. At the time it was about 1 600 EUR I believe. I got it for my 21st birthday and my parents, grandmother and me split the price to make it less daunting. I am in deep love with that bag to this day.
But if we go by re-sale value it is my Chanel Flap. The story of how I got it is a bit surreal: I always told myself that I would save up for it from my first full time job and buy it as a professional milestone marker. And that actually happened, just a bit different then I expected. You have to know that I spent years of my youth researching this bag and learning how to authenticate it, because.
So while living in London, waitressing, I had a habit of spending some days off strolling through Brick Lane and looking at interesting second hand shops. One day I found it. My friends that were with me at the time all laughed when I showed them the kind of squished bag. It is just so unlikely to find the real thing for 35 GBP, but I trusted my acquired hobby skill and bought it. And yes, I got it authenticated with a small second hand luxury store. They also think it’s real. Make of this what you will, but I am very sure that I got the jackpot. I adore the bag, I just wish the brand history wasn’t what it is.
What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? All of my bags are the most important pieces to me tbh. Each one of them marks a milestone in my life, they remind me of my parents and my aunt, who gifted me some of my bags, and I don’t regret getting any of them (maybe apart from my MiuMiu bag, it’s just very fiddly to open, close and get stuff out of, as well as having a “saggy bottom”, even though it’s a somewhat oval bag anyways?? The shoulder strap is also so tight that the top flap is in CONSTANT contact with my arm pit. I swear it was advertised as a shoulder bag).
Now the brand that really influenced my bag obsession is the old Chloé. As you can see from my bag list, Chloé is pretty much the only brand I have multiple bags from. In my opinion Chloé used to be a brand that designed the most unique bags that were functional while being pieces of art. The quality is just beautiful! The new Chloé unfortunately does not do it for me.
What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? At 16. It was a second hand Chloé Paddington (the bag that started my obsession) from eBay. It was about 100 EUR and I was shaking at spending that much money at once. It was a months long hunt for the best condition for the best price, but I got it at last. I think you can all relate to the astonishment one feels when unpacking a designer bag for the first time.
Little did I know that my price sensitivity for bags would vanish into thin air ten years later. Haha.
Is there a specific bag you are looking to purchase next? A bag that made my heart stop when I was a teenager was a vernis navy blue Lady Dior with GHW. But the price was so far out of my reach that I didn’t think of owning one. My family is pretty middle class, and growing up I never saw anything from a luxury brand on the people around me. Only when I got closer to one of my aunts who is doing very well with her independent business, I got to experience somebody e.g. buying a pair of Prada shoes just because they are nice. Talking about my amazing aunt: She bought me my Falabella (just because) and my Nile bag (bachelor graduation), which was so lovely.
Back to the Lady Dior: Once I can get back to working again (and covid is not much of an issue anymore), I really want to save up for that bag. By now I feel old enough to carry a bag like that. I always thought it would look a bit silly if I wore it at my age. A bit like imposter syndrom I guess. No offence to young people with top-end bags! I enjoy seeing others with them!
Personally, it made me feel guilty that I wasn’t able to buy fancy bags from my own money, yet my family would buy me designer bags for my graduations and important birthdays. They were all under a thousand EUR, but that is a very luscious gift for existing!
Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? My Antigona. My mum bought it for me when I had my Master’s graduation. She visited me in London for a week, which was quite an event for her because she had never travelled on her own! We went to stroll though nice shops, not intending to actually spend money. But then we saw that beautiful Antigona for a bit under 600 GBP – you bet. My mum didn’t know what it was, but when I explained it to her, she immediately grabbed the bag and rushed to the counter to pay before anybody else could. What a mum.
Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? It depends. I don’t have logo bags apart from my Chanel Flap, and most of my family and friends are not very interested in luxury brands. Sometimes I get compliments for a pretty bag, but that’s about it.
However, when I wear my Flap bag that is a different story. I usually need to explain how it happened, and when going to a pub, I had girls come over to me to talk about it, which is always so lovely.
Another thing: charity people collecting donations in public don’t approach me when I wear the Chanel. And I’m the kind of person that gets followed by charity people. I worked for a charity and I guess I look the part? If that makes sense? What does a charity person look like?
How often do you buy new bags? Very irregularly. My dad and my mum would let me choose a gift for milestones, so my bag history very strongly coincides with important birthdays and graduations, as well as sales. I believe the only full price bags I own are the ones I got from my aunt and my LV Noé… and the Burberry!
I worked in the service industry while studying, but my salary was pretty much eaten up by living costs, so there was no chance of me buying a bag myself. It was only after graduation that I was able to AND I DID. I bought about three bags in my first year of having a decent salary and I don’t regret anything. My SO thinks it’s a bit odd, but I am also the financially responsible one in the relationship (I swear – I have a hand written diary for every Pound/Euro I spent since I was 14. It’s a great read), so he’s not scared of my “hobby”.
Which stores do you frequent the most? There is no one in particular. I do prefer in store over online whenever possible. Online is just very risky to me, because you never know what size and colour a bag actually is, or how the material feels. So I usually look at bags in person. If I love one, I know straight away. The MiuMiu was an online purchase (you guessed right). When I got it I wasn’t over the moon, but I still liked it enough to keep it. If I had tried it on in store I would not have gotten it though. That tells you all you need to know.
On top of that I really like having knowledgeable SA’s that also treat me nicely. If I receive rude or careless service I don’t want to spend money there. If it’s a store of a certain brand it honestly puts me off the whole brand. Happened with Montclair. The SA kept rushing me and taking things away from me as I was trying them on so I had to run after her to get them back. Then she told me that the zips of their coats will break about once a year because its so high tech and I will be charged 200 EUR for getting it fixed/year. I DON’T THINK SO.
Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? I do! But I am picky. I frequent small second hand luxury boutiques. If you have one in your area, I recommend checking it out! From my experience you can get bags in an amazing shape for a fair price. Also, you know what you are getting.
Back to online shopping: I find it very stressful. This Christmas I got myself the Yuzefi bag off the RealReal. It was new w/tags and half price. I was suspicious of that. The colour was generally appealing to pretty much anybody. But I thought maybe that’s a Covid side-effect. So I bought it. Imported it. And I opened the parcel. And my whole flat got filled with this unbearable stench, I almost got sick. I have never smelled something like that before. It was a mix of mold, moist cellar, cigarettes and general decay. The bag looked fine however, beautiful as in the photos. I have since treated the bag with all anti-smell methods I could find, I even baked it. I am happy to say that it is almost usable, but it nevertheless needs some professional help. I should mention that the RealReal refunded the shipping cost (overseas), but I don’t think I will get online second hand bags again. The environmental factor of having a bag shipped around the globe also isn’t something I am proud of. I’ll stick with brick shops.
Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? Not so far. I rotate through my bags quite often, so I don’t really have unused bags lying around that feel obsolete. On top of that I would be too sentimental to give any of them away! It’s my bag family.
Also, I have a certain buying philosophy: I only add a bag to my collection if it is a noticeably different style, size and colour from what I already have. That way I can easily pass on bags that are similar to something I own, while ending up with a bag for every outfit and occation 🙂
Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? Rather the opposite! I do feel guilty about having such a vast and expensive bag collection, but I don’t regret it and it definitely helped me to feel appreciated. I moved to a foreign country on my own when I was sixteen and worked in so many odd and underpaid jobs. When I was studying full time, I was at times working both an unpaid internship and a student job. It was exhausting and you don’t even get appropriate financial compensation. And with my family in a different country, I wasn’t able to go home to eat there or have my parents take me out for dinner, so I had to be very cautious with the money I spent. Getting gifted a nice bag for special occations just made a difference. You might think it’s odd that I got luxury bags instead of extra money, and it might as well be. But only having the bare necessities is exhausting.
Do you consider your bag purchases investments? Not necessarily. I know that if I am ever in urgent need of money I can (sadly) sell my collection and maybe get some thousands back. But I don’t think of making profit. The resale value is not a factor for me when buying, because I want to wear my bag babies until they fall apart (so far, none of them have. That’s what’s so great about them).
Who influences your buying decisions? PurseBlog. People on the street. Looking at bags in shops. I need to see myself styling it with my wardrobe, as well as being in awe of it’s beauty. I sometimes find myself swayed by ads and seeing others rave about a bag to a point where I want it. But I don’t really give in, because I know what true love feels like (apart from that one time where I bought a MiuMiu bag). And I also haven’t really reached a point in my life where I can afford impulse purchases. Ask me again when money is abundant and I might say something different hehe.
Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? In the sense that I will only buy something if I get treated nicely. I’ve had absolutely lovely SA’s, but I don’t have an Hermès-like relationship to any.
Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? I like the thought that people put effort and care into a product. Getting something really well made, no matter if furniture, clothing, etc. makes me amazed at what people can create. Because I surely don’t know how to even cut a straight line. Anyways, I just get butterflies in my stomach when I touch something with good quality. We have so many things around us in our daily life, that I find it important to only add stuff you feel 100% about. Going shopping is somewhat of a way to see what I find attractive. I don’t actually want to own everything I like. It’s just interesting to see. A bit like going to a museum. I hope that makes sense without sounding like a snob!
I don’t think I am a shopaholic. It actually stresses me buying things just to buy something. I simply don’t want to deal with getting rid of stuff I didn’t actually want, in my free time, or deal with finding more space to store things. Don’t get me wrong, I have times where I buy too much because there is such a thing as a shopping rush, but I usually try to keep that limited to nice food or skincare, things I can use up. I learned from checking back on my financial diary, that I sometimes regret spending money on physical things, however, I never regret spending money on social things. It just helps me keep check on what I actually want to do with my money.
Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? I think when I was a teenager and it was obvious that I couldn’t afford anything. The first time I ventured into a luxury store (Gucci) I was treated quite mean by the staff. I was very nervous because I had the feeling that I am not actually allowed to be in there, back then my whole outfit was from H&M. I just wanted to see the Boston bag in person to touch it. The staff kept saying how the one I wanted to look at was last season and nobody still asked for it. And the SA that talked to me kept starring at a pimple I had on my forehead, he didn’t once look me in the eyes (and in Austria eye contact is key to being polite – little travel tip). I know that I didn’t go in there to purchase something, but I still find it appalling that grown people had to treat a shy 14 year old like that. I just couldn’t do that. I also usually had a staff member in any luxury (department) store follow me around suspiciously, because I guess teenagers that don’t wear designer clothes are thieves. I just wanted to look at bags out of interest 🙂
Who pays for your bags? People that really love me. And me.
Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? Not specifically, but when I spend less than budgeted in a month, I will usually put it aside so that when something catches my fancy, I can possibly get it. My normal savings are part of my monthly budget fyi.
The amount I have spared for bags really varies, because I do not have a straightforward career yet and my salary can change quite a bit. I went from working in service to working for charities to working for government to being a student again.
The Taboo Topics
Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? No, I am not fancying that at all. I have touched fakes in street stalls and second hand shops. I just find the quality appalling. Also, if I saw a super fake I would be too worried about where the leather comes from, if it was produced under horrific conditions, and if it’s treated with harmful chemicals. I know that we can’t be too sure about how the real things are produced either and I now try to do research where I can. I just wish there was more transparency. Luxury should be made responsibly! After all, premium brands have all the budget to do that and it just makes the product so much better.
Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? No, he knows everything and he is in a bit of disbelief about the prices. But after years of being with me, he’s starting to appreciate how much these bags can take and how long they live. Once I have my income back, I am going to force a bag on him so he can experience the pleasure of premium bags himself. Which bag should I get him?
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? I have a friend from India who studied for a fashion management MA (the only one of my friends who shares my obsession). When she finished (GPA 4.0!), she returned to her home country. As a goodbye gift, I organised a money pool among all our/her friends to buy her an Alexander McQueen de manta clutch. The disbelief in her eyes when she got it at the airport was everything.
Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? Not really. Shopping can be relaxing but I know in the moment that I will regret it if I overspend on things I don’t love. And I am a picky lover. And all the reasons I listed above.
The Rest Of It
Any other expensive hobbies or passions? I do competitive martial arts. Traveling to all those different locations and paying for hotels adds up! As well as the equipment. And there is no money in it (it’s not football). But it’s addictive.
When I first started I thought taekwondo would be a cheap sport. It’s not like you have to maintain a horse. Hah. HA.
I also like doing nail art. I actually worked as a nail technician at some point! Getting all the materials you need is more than you think it is.
My two cat daughters also cost a fair share, but I don’t care as long as they are happy :3 Yes, they have a custom made cat tree.
Anything else you would like to include? Do you guys feel or felt guilty when getting expensive gifts? How do you handle it? Penny for your thoughts.
Thank you for taking the time to read through this novel!