Closet Confessionals

CC 149: The Newbie

"I didn't even know the difference between a Chanel Classic Flap and a Chanel 2.55... I've learned a lot more since then"

In today’s installment of Closet Confessionals, we meet CC 149, a collector who just began collecting handbags within the last year. While her collection is small, it is mighty, and CC 149’s collection includes all contemporary brands, with the majority of them being a PurseBlog favorite, Polene! CC 149’s interest in bags has developed over time, and her newfound perspective is an interesting one to read.

While CC 149 does question her need to start budgeting for bags, she hasn’t yet purchased an incredibly expensive bag. This confessor offers a unique perspective on bags, social media, and shopping in the digital age, lamenting that sometimes social media can make us feel bad about the things we want/don’t have, and it’s important to monitor our screen time and how it impacts us. CC 149 also admits that she struggled in submitting this CC since her collection is smaller and features fewer premium designers than other CCs, but it’s important to remember that it’s our passions that bind us, not what we have.

Read the full CC now and don’t forget to submit your own.


The Basics

Age: 28
Gender Identity: Female
Location: California
Occupation: Government Analyst
Industry: Government
Salary: $60,000
Household Income: $60,000

The Bags

Are you a PurseForum member? No

How many bags do you own? 10

What bags are in your collection?

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How much is your collection worth? About $2,000-$3,000

What is your most expensive bag? Polene Sept

What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? The Coach Minetta was a graduation gift from a female family member. At the time, I didn’t really appreciate it because I didn’t carry purses and it felt like an ill-fitting gift for me. I also didn’t feel comfortable carrying around something so expensive at my age. All my peers around me carried cheap, utilitarian backpacks. I also had some personal struggles with gender and sexuality to get through, as I felt handbags represented the traditionally feminine woman when I was trying actively to represent myself as someone outside of the traditional feminine gender role and escape from the expected future like marriage and having kids. In the last few years however, my life has significantly changed, and I now have a newfound interest in nice clothes, fashion, style, and yes handbags! It is the most practical bag I own, so I’m grateful.

What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? The Coach Minetta I received when I was fresh out of college with my bachelor’s degree, so around 22 years old. When my family members had a handbag phase, they almost exclusively shopped from Coach, and I did go with them on their little shopping trips. Once, I picked out a handbag for myself too, but quickly realized it was absolutely impractical and I wasn’t going to use it, so it was returned the next day. Otherwise, I bought a Michael Kors blue wallet wristlet that I used constantly for years now, and it’s held up great.

Is there a specific bag you are looking to purchase next? The Polene Dix. Otherwise, I am happy with my collection. Is this the legendary purse peace? Although I only got into handbags in the last year, I threw myself into the deep end to look at all sorts of purses from high end to low end, and Polene’s unique style and price point really captured my interest. I bought my Polene bags in a short amount of time, so the novelty definitely hasn’t worn off yet! I did consider getting the Polene Un handbag, but my mom didn’t like the design and I decided against it. Plus, I think the rounded bulky silhouette will clash with what I normally wear (sweatshirts and athleisure). I want handbags that compliment me, not clash or look overwhelming on me. I am really short.

Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? The Coach Minetta. The Kate Spade Natalia is also a little sentimental for me because when I first started looking at handbags, the Chanel Classic Flap caught my interest. Who amongst us doesn’t fall in love with handbags because of a Chanel bag? I just loved that quilted look, but I definitely did not love that price point. While I’m at a point in my career that I could afford a bag that expensive, I just don’t feel comfortable using such an expensive bag. I don’t feel that it’s worth it! At the end of the day, handbags are only a small part of my life, and there’s other things I personally place a higher value on. That said, I love the handbag industry, all the designers, and all the handbag collectors and fans such as PurseBlog readers! For me personally, I find that certain purses hold value for me when I own them and use them, and certain purses hold value for me when I admire them from afar (for free), if that makes sense.

But the Chanel Classic Flap quilted design did catch my interest, and I wanted to get one for my mom and I. But she would definitely not have approved of such a price tag! That’s when I went searching for other quilted bags, and when I saw the Kate Spade one, I bought it immediately. It works perfectly well for my needs while still allowing me to enjoy that design. This was in the beginning of my handbag obsession as well, so I didn’t even know the difference between a Chanel Classic Flap and a Chanel 2.55! I’m happy to report I’ve learned a lot more since then, and it’s become a fun game to see what designer bags I can spot while I’m out and about.

Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? This is the reason why I didn’t get into handbags before. At work, at home, no one in my social circles bought high-end designer handbags or flaunted them, so I never paid attention before. It also seemed silly to me for a fresh college graduate to be carrying around an expensive purse while riding the bus everyday! But now it’s been a few years, and in the last few years we have seen such a huge explosion across social media of hypebeasts, of hyperconsumerism – in other words, of people openly buying very expensive designer items and being very open about it. There might be people on the street wearing a bag that costs thousands of dollars, what’s a few hundred?

In my daily life however, this doesn’t affect me. My social circles still haven’t changed, although I do have one friend I see occasionally who owns Chanel, YSL, and Celine handbags. Now that so many of us are working from home, my handbags are just there for me to enjoy, but that’s perfect for me. It’s a good tangible motivation for me to work and make money! Credit card bills to pay!

Have your bag-carrying habits changed since Covid? I used to carry large backpacks and lunch bags, but now I only need medium or small cross body bags to hold my wallet, phone and small necessary items. While I still love backpacks, larger bags really feel heavy after carrying them for a while, so it’s a nice switch.

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The Shopping

How often do you buy new bags? I only bought handbags this year, so hopefully not that often!

Has the Coronavirus pandemic changed your shopping habits or overall attitude towards luxury? Who hasn’t turned to the online world for refuge during the pandemic and quarantine? I feel like social media and online shopping has taken over our lives. While the world is dealing with a pandemic, political upheaval, and climate change, getting into handbags has been a welcome distraction and something that brings me joy on a daily basis. It’s true that we need to save money and be financially smart instead of spending all our money on retail therapy, but we should also use our money to have fun and enjoy our lives! (Just keep an eye on your consumerism, its effects on the environment, and the emissions you might produce!)

Which stores do you frequent the most? Polene, I suppose.

Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? I haven’t yet, because I didn’t find what I wanted and some listings seemed to be scam sellers. For secondhand clothes however, I have bought from Depop.

Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? I haven’t had to yet, and I doubt I will. I would prefer to buy things I definitely want to keep forever, instead of bags I’m not sure of that I might sell. Of course, life changes will always happen. Before I got into handbags I was very into a brand called Marymond, which is an activism-based South Korean streetwear and accessory brand. All of their items commemorate Korean women and their profits are used to help the survivors as well as continued activism to remember this history. It was very moving to me, so I bought a lot of clothes and yes, even handbags, from them. I only used them a few times, but I’m not going to sell. These purchases were about more than the item itself, so I don’t feel like selling them just because I don’t use them that often.

Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? I’m not on social media, especially Instagram, so thankfully not. I do watch a lot of YouTube, so I have to be careful with that. For those of you struggling with this, get off Instagram! The effects of that app and social media can be terrifying. Social media really can make a person over-obsess over their physical/outward appearance, or at least how people can look online. Clothes, handbags, designer goods, conventional beauty standards, traveling a lot, food – all of these things can be flaunted on social media and when we compare our own lives to these people, it can be very demoralizing. I definitely developed body image issues after looking at Instagram too much, so afterward I had to delete my account. It’s always better to appreciate what you have, no matter if it’s your body or your handbags.

Do you consider your bag purchases investments? No. First of all, I haven’t bought investment-worthy bags and I don’t intend to. If it’s an investment, you won’t feel comfortable using it as much. I can see how some handbags can be sold for profit, but how much of that profit is inflation or inflated demand? I also worry that if I do buy bags just for investment, it will become an excuse to buy more bags or bags I’m not really interested in, rather than being more mindful and more thoughtful with my purchases. I’ve bought watches and I doubt those will increase in price. You can’t guarantee the price will increase for a lot of things, because investing can be more like a bet or a gamble on the future. For me, it probably makes more sense to keep investments and personal possessions separate. I prefer keeping my investing to my investment accounts.

Who influences your buying decisions? YouTube. Again I try not to spend time looking at social media because it’s such a time sink and I feel like it scrambles my brain. Humans are social creatures and it’s easy to get sucked into the latest trends or buying a purse because everyone else has one and really likes it! I have caught myself a few times being interested in a bag because I’ve watched other people talk about how much they like it. One trick I use is to walk away for a while, and not look at it. I find once I stop looking or focusing on it so much, I don’t really care about the item anymore, and my feelings have cooled down. If I’ve sat on a purchase for a while and I still want it for good reasons, and it’s a good decision according to my personal circumstances and situation, then I’ll buy it.

Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? No, I’ve done all my shopping online.

Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? Retail therapy, the endorphin or dopamine rush of getting something new to break up the monotony of daily life. But I have enjoyed the research process and seeing everyone’s collections. I tend to jump from interest to interest, obsession to obsession, because I like staying engaged. Luckily I always cool down after a few months, before I really spend too much. I do have to check myself when I focus more on the items I want but haven’t gotten yet, and ignore the items I’ve already bought.

Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? Luckily not, but I didn’t start shopping alone until I was an adult. I’m an Asian female, so I’m sure before I started shopping, there were years of rich Asian tourists visiting designer stores to sweep the shelves and pave the way for me.

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The Money

Who pays for your bags? I pay for all my own purchases.

Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? No, although I really should. I feel guilty that I haven’t contributed much to my savings in the last few years, although that can also be attributed to life changes and increased cost of living. Rent, utilities, groceries, household purchases, these can all add up! I have various saving funds however, and the bulk of which I haven’t touched, so I felt comfortable spending what I needed to to get what I want. I do need to cut down on Doordash however.

The Taboo Topics

Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? My family never raised me to pay attention to material things or designer brands, so I never felt the urge or need to have something designer in order to fit in. I would never blame the person for buying a counterfeit most of the time however. I’m a writer and a creative person myself, so I totally feel the pain when designers find counterfeits online. But to me, not all counterfeit is the same, and I wouldn’t necessarily blame the person buying the counterfeit. Chances are, they would have never been able to buy the real item in the first place. Counterfeits would just be filling in the gap between market demand vs market supply. There is also a big difference between a well-off brand company dealing with counterfeits vs a small business one-person artist dealing with fakes of their products. I definitely don’t support counterfeits but I do want to consider all the nuances about the situation and understand them.

Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? My SO and I have a good relationship based on trust and respect. I respect his judgment and he respects mine, although we can also discuss things and help check each other. I haven’t gone into detail but I have explained my financial situation and I freely use my purchases. If I felt any sort of guilt about buying these things because I thought I would receive disapproval, then maybe I shouldn’t get the item. I should feel confident about my purchases after all.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? Nothing yet so far, since I haven’t bought a really expensive bag.

Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? I do want to scale down my purchases because while they’re not frequent, I tend to buy multiple things at a time, and that’s not necessary. Being more thoughtful with my purchases and just focus on what I like the most and what I need will probably help.

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The Rest Of It

Any other expensive hobbies or passions? I spend a lot of money on books. Before handbags, I mostly spent my luxury money on my nerdy interests.

Anything else you would like to include? I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do a CC because I don’t have a very impressive or interesting collection, but I ultimately decided to share my story because I wanted to see more handbag collectors like me, perhaps lower price points and lower number of handbags. I thoroughly enjoy seeing everyone else’s collections and everyone else’s individual taste and style, just as much as I enjoy seeing and using my own handbags.

Having said that, I know I’ve spent a lot of time in this CC talking about hyper-consumption and protecting the environment. I hope nothing I’ve written in this CC makes anyone feel bad about their collection. I don’t want to sound patronizing when I talk about consumerism or the environment. It’s up to every individual person to figure out what’s the best balance for themselves. Outside of that, the best solutions we have are always focusing on systemic and collective changes for society.

Furthermore, I hope people also find the time and resources to donate to charity. I find it’s easy for me to get sucked into focusing on just handbags, particularly when I want a handbag and I don’t have it yet. In those situations, it’s best to step back and focus on the bigger picture, on everything else in my life that isn’t related to handbags. It keeps me balanced. Thanks for reading, hope you found my CC interesting!

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