In this week’s Closet Confessional, we learn from this 20-something about his path to a substantial bag collection that was mostly gifted by his generous parents, to later taking a more conservative approach to spending once he earned his own income. Once scoring his first job in his professional field, he treated himself to his lifelong dream of purchasing a new Birkin, which promptly lead to the uneasy sticker shock that many first-time Birkin buyers experience.

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The Basics

Age: 22
Gender Identity: Male
Location: New York City, NY
Occupation: Marketing Coordinator
Industry: IT/Social Media
Salary: $41,000
Household Income: $800,000

The Bags

Are you a PurseForum member? Yes

How many bags do you own? 16

What bags are in your collection?

Hermes Birkin 30
Hermes Octagone Mini
Hermes Onimaitou
Hermes Trim 24
Hermes Victoria II
Chanel Boy Small
Celine Croissant Pouch
Celine Cabas Gusset
Akris Ai Tote mini size
Balenciaga Classic City
Proenza Schouler PS1 Large
The Row Sling 15 Hobo
Prada Hobo
Coach Dinky
Coach Kisslock
Coach Hobo bag

How much is your collection worth? $38,000

What is your most expensive bag? My Hermes Birkin 30. I bought it brand new from the store. I almost had a heart attack when I got the call because of how expensive it was. I was not ready for it, but that made the experience so much more thrilling!

What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? The most important brands in my collection are Hermes and Celine. I love the quality of Hermes and how the bag will last forever. Also, Hermes’ after sales service is fabulous and ensures your bags will outlive you and your future generations. I really appreciate buying into that type of quality and service. I love Celine for their minimalist designs and gorgeous leather options. I am a huge Phoebe Philo fan! Celine bags also have lots of pockets for organization which I really appreciate.

What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? I got my Celine Cabas Tote as a high school graduation gift from my parents when I was 17 years old. The day after my ceremony, my mom took me to Barneys and said I can choose whichever bag I would like (obviously under a certain price range). I chose the tote and used it throughout college. It is a fantastic tote and I recommend it to anyone who needs a good, stylish tote for any need. I still have it and will never part with it!

Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? My Hermes Birkin because it was a lifelong goal of mine to get one. I was finally able to achieve it after getting my first job, which I’m still working now. I paid for the bag entirely by myself and I look at it as an achievement. I feel especially proud since this was a goal that I achieved so early and I am eternally grateful for that.

Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? Yes! Some friends, coworkers, and family members look at me as a snobby, high maintenance type of person because of my higher end bags and other pieces in my wardrobe. In reality, I am the complete opposite in terms of my personality. I like to dress well to be respectful to others, not to appear as better than them. Also, I like nice bags for their quality, longevity, and the way they look, not the way they make me look. At work, no one really notices since I am in the tech field, most people actually just complement the bag and move on. There was one moment with a particular coworker that I wasn’t too fond of, but I can’t get into the details of it.

While shopping, I do notice a change in treatment by SAs when I’m carrying my Coach Dinky vs when I am carrying my Birkin, but I don’t really care about it. I just ignore it.

The Shopping

How often do you buy new bags? I buy about 1 or 2 per year. Most of my bags I get as gifts from my parents, so I don’t really have to shop for more. This allows me to be picky with my purchases and save the most of my money on more important future purchases. But I do love the experience of buying a bag in store, since I buy so little, that experience is still very special to me.

Which stores do you frequent the most? My favorite stores are Barneys, Saks, Macys and Hermes. I mostly shop online for clothes but I like to go to local malls if I’m traveling outside of the city to find good deals! I love Saks and Barneys for their wide range of brands and designers, plus they have fantastic sales. Macy’s is the classic American department store where you can always snag up bags from Coach for an amazing price.

For Hermes, I mean, do they even need an explanation? Hermes is the epitome of luxury, and their stores are just as beautiful as their products.

Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? I do! I’ve been looking into second-hand a lot more recently. I mostly browse stores like Yoogi’s Closet, Fashionphile, and eBay. You can get vintage or gently used bags for amazing prices. But it is super important to do your research and pay for authentication services to make sure you’re not getting a counterfeit. 3 of my Hermes bags are second-hand and I love them to bits, they are all discontinued models so I would not have been able to find them brand new from the boutique.

Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? I do! I sold so many bags in my collection last year. They were bags I acquired as gifts or purchased myself. I wish I hadn’t bought them in the first place since I sold them at a loss, but it is better to sell them rather then let them collect dust in the back of my closet. I sell them to online consignment shops and sometimes on Depop or Ebay. I even sold a few to friends and distant relatives too.

Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? I do not feel any societal pressure. I rarely keep up with trends and found my own personal style that I am comfortable with. I like making my own unique looks and work on my wardrobe myself without having any outside influence. If I stuck to trends, I would be spending way too much money, and I would not dress as my true self. I think buying classic bags are the best way to go. Marketing doesn’t get to me either since I work in the field, I know all the secrets! Ha!

Do you consider your bag purchases investments? I do! I think classic bag styles are best at keeping their value. My bags from Chanel and Hermes hold their value pretty well and I can get a lot of my money back if I decide to sell it. Certain bags don’t hold their value so well, and I learned that the hard way while selling some of my collection. But, any bag can be sold and you can put that money towards other new bags which I see as some sort of investment value.

Who influences your buying decisions? I don’t really allow anyone to influence my buying decisions. I do look to some public figures as inspirations for outfits, such as, Rihanna and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy.

But I don’t think anyone has a direct influence on my buying decisions. I tend to just buy a bag I like and then base my outfits for it around that. I don’t think I’ve ever bought a bag because I saw a celebrity carry it. But I will say that some negative comments about my expensive bag-buying habits have caused me to buy more under-the-radar designs. I don’t want all the attention going straight to the most expensive items I own, which usually are my bags.

Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? Yes! They are key to having a good sales experience. For me it was especially important to have a good relationship with a sales associate at Hermes in order to get my Birkin. But having a good relationship is important at any store you go to just in case you need to get a bag that is extremely limited, or for pre-orders. It can also help you with any potential career-related connections in the future. My first internship was actually from a reference my SA at Celine gave me. I’m eternally grateful to her for that. I’m very friendly with my SAs at all the stores I repeatedly visit and we talk very casually over text!

Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? I enjoy shopping because of the experience of buying something that you know you’ll use and love forever. It doesn’t matter if I’m buying something small or big. Shopping is an enjoyable experience and therapeutic for me. I find it to be an escape from the real world. I am by no means an shopaholic though. I rarely window shop, mainly because I want the experience to remain special. When I am shopping, I tend to look less on social media, and stay focused on myself which I very much enjoy. It also makes for great cardio to keep me in shape!

Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? Yes! I am a gay person of color. This plays a huge role in my shopping experience. I have several experiences where I have been given inferior service. It is extremely unfortunate that treatment like this still exists, and there is still a long time until it gets any better. I’ve learned to ignore it and just do what I intend to do which is shop for the things I want and get out of there. If an SA treats me poorly, chances are I won’t go back to them, so I won’t make a big deal about how poorly they treated me. Although, I now shop at the same places where SAs recognize me or know me well, so I rarely experience any sort of unfair treatment. But I do know people and read about people who still receive poor treatment and it still makes me extremely upset.

The Money

Who pays for your bags? Most of my bags have been gifts from my parents. But since early 2018, I have been paying for my bags.

Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? No, I don’t set aside any budget since the prices of the bags I want varies. I just manage my account and plan my purchases out to make sure I don’t spend too much within a certain amount of time. However, I do put a certain amount aside for my savings and that is strictly not used for any luxury handbag purchases. That account is for emergencies and for my future.

The Taboo Topics

Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? Never! I don’t believe in counterfeits and I think buying a cheaper bag for the look is better than buying a counterfeit. I do understand why people buy counterfeits, and I don’t judge them based off of that. But counterfeits are just not the way I roll.

Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? I don’t have a significant other but I do not hide my purchases from anyone. I am open and honest about my spending with my family and friends and they are, for the most part, supportive of it. Some folks do choke up when they hear the prices of certain bags I have bought, but most are okay with it.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? I have never done anything crazy to afford one. But I did make my brother drive 100 miles with me to another location to get my Chanel boy bag! It was the specific leather, color, and hardware that I wanted. My local boutique for some reason would not order it in so I called the other store and had it reserved. We drove there in the morning, got my bag, and drove back! It was a fun little road trip and brings great memories!

Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? Yes! There was a time in my life where I would excessively buy bags for the sake of owning them. I learned the hard way when I realized how little money I had left. I was so young and there was no reason for me to have so many expensive bags. My friends and family started to become concerned and I soon realized that it was not the right thing to do. I stopped buying completely for a few years and then began to sell off my collection. At one point, I had almost 40 bags. Now I am down less than half!

The Rest Of It

Any other expensive hobbies or passions? I really love jewelry! I love investing in jewelry and love wearing it even more! I have added a lot of fine jewelry pieces to my collection and plan to add more in the future. I love it because jewelry is a much better investment than bags. I keep up with gold and platinum price fluctuations and purchase from local jewelers and artisans. Though I do own a few designer fine jewelry pieces too. Vintage jewelry is also lots of fun and I find vintage jewelry shopping to be very thrilling!

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