I feel like many of us can recall times in our lives where we used retail therapy as an escape from real life, in one way or another. The thrill of the chase, coupled with the exhilaration of the new make for an intoxicating experience that distracts and numbs our pain, even just for a little while. Today’s confessional was submitted by a Canadian executive assistant who had a period in her mid-20s during which she fell down that deep rabbit hole until she hit rock bottom. Fortunately, she has managed not to go down that road again.

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The Basics

Age: 32
Gender Identity: Female
Location: Canada
Occupation: Executive Assistant
Industry: Legal
Salary: $49,000
Household Income: $120,000

The Bags

Are you a PurseForum member? No

How many bags do you own? 12

What bags are in your collection?

  • LV Speedy 20 Black Monogram Empreinte
  • LV Neverfull MM
  • Ferragamo Vara Rainbow Medium
  • Chanel Square Mini
  • Strathberry East Mini
  • Auxiliary Calisch Cross-body
  • Foley and Corinna Mid-City Tote
  • Polene Mini Un
  • Tory Burch Kerrington Backpack

How much is your collection worth? 11,000, maybe?

What is your most expensive bag? Definitely the Chanel Square Mini. I didn’t catch the particular combination while it was in the boutiques and I had to pay more for it in the secondhand market.

What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? The most important was probably my Chanel Square Mini as that was my holy grail.

As for my favourite? It is probably a toss between the Vara Rainbow or the Mini Un.

What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? My first designer bag was when I was 28 years old–I recently broke up with my ex and wanted to treat myself. I saw the Speedy 20 in Black Monogram Empreinte in the store and it came home me. It was definitely an impulse buy, but I have no regrets.

Is there a specific bag you are looking to purchase next? I don’t have anything in mind at the moment.

Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? My LV Neverfull MM is special as my parents bought it for me for my 30th birthday. I was lusting after the Neverfull for so many years but was always on the fence about it because it is a pretty common bag to see around. Five other women at the company I work at own the same one (although not all in the exact scheme).

I am very lucky that they bought it for me and it has been my winter workhorse since.

Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? I don’t really think my bags change people’s perceptions of me. I have gone into stores where SAs ignore me regardless if I carry a designer or a high-street or a no-name bag. My RBF-game must be strong. That, or I do not come across as a person who is likely to drop money on a whim.

I think the perception about me changes more when they find out what I do for a living (and by extension, how much I earn). I have had a lot of people insinuate that I shouldn’t be carrying the bags I do as my career and annual earnings don’t “match”.

I have had someone close to me tell me that I am ridiculous for spending over $1,000 on a bag when I don’t rake in money like Rhianna. I did not bother to point out to her that my $1,000 bag cost me a lot less than her 3 cats. She also owns a horse and a dog. I am not saying that pets are not worth it, but what I am getting at here is that people will spend on what they want to spend on. I do not think that they should be judged on what gives them pleasure (IF they are not hurting anyone or going into massive debt).

The Shopping

How often do you buy new bags? I don’t buy bags very often. Maybe 1 or 2 a year?

Which stores do you frequent the most? I don’t really go into stores unless I am in the mood to buy something. I don’t believe in wasting SA’s time. I usually do all my research before stepping into a store. Doing that helps prevent impulse purchases and buyer’s remorse.

Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? I stalk TheRealReal, Fashionphile, and Ann’s Fabulous Finds for things. I also occasionally check out eBay.

That being said, I have bought second-hand once — my Chanel Mini — from Ann’s Fabulous Finds. I am usually too neurotic and anal-retentive about the condition of the bag to buy second-hand more often.

The reason I bought the Chanel Mini second-hand was because I would not have ever gotten it any other way. My desire for that particular colour/leather type/hardware combination was just too strong.

I might also cave if the perfect white multicolour Murakami piece comes along any of those second-hand sites.

Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? No, I wouldn’t sell bags to fund a new bag purchase. I would only sell a bag if I don’t see myself using it anymore.

I have sold a white MK bag before because I was too paranoid about colour transfer (I only ever wear black). Funny enough, I sold it directly to a friend of mine for a fraction of the cost (I lost more than half of what I paid for it).

Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? No I don’t feel any kind of pressure. I buy bags (and things in general) because something caught my eye.

Do you consider your bag purchases investments? No, I do not consider bags as investments. When I buy something, I usually just consider cost-per-wear or cost-per-use. I assume that if I were to ever sell a bag, I would lose money.

Who influences your buying decisions? I would probably say that some influencers online (e.g. Chase Amie, and Wendy’s LookBook) have an effect on what I would usually consider or what I think looks good (bags and etc.) but the urge usually passes when I think about my actual lifestyle.

An example would be the pale pink YSL envelope wallet on a chain. After thinking about it for a few weeks, I decided against it as I don’t attend so many evening events and my existing no-name clutch is good enough. Cost-per wear/cost-per-use matters to me a lot.

Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? I don’t visit enough shops for me to develop that kind of relationship, but how I am treated plays a part. I refuse to buy anything (no matter how much I want an item) from an SA who is blatantly or subtly rude to me.

I have had an SA tell me that I was probably only going to use the item at an event to later return it when she was about to ring in my purchase. I told her that I am not that type of person–I buy things with the intention of keeping. I also told her that I would rather make the purchase from the online store and left.

Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? I like the anticipation and the research that goes behind each purchase.

Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? I definitely feel that I receive inferior services at a store due to my ethnicity. This is probably the underlying reason I do not frequent shops to browse and only enter stores when I am ready to buy something.

I am more likely to get better service when I am with my significant other (who is Caucasian) and even then, they usually choose to speak with him first. Funny that, considering as I am the one always buying–he almost never buys anything.

The Money

Who pays for your bags? I pay for my bags. EXCEPT for the LV Neverfull MM that my parents got me for my birthday.

Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? I do not keep a budget for my bags as I do not know what I want until I see it. And when I do see something I like, it usually takes me a couple of weeks worth of research before pulling the trigger.

I keep my credit card clear and I buy bags using that. I then pay it off afterwards.

The Taboo Topics

Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? I have never purchased a counterfeit for myself. I never really saw value in them. That being said, I’ve bought a few counterfeit items for my friends when I visited Asia because they said they wanted them.

I don’t have anything against counterfeit, but I feel that if I really truly loved the bag, I should actually get the bag. Only four of my bags are high-end designer. Most of my bags are high-street. A couple of them are no-name.

Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? No I don’t have to hide anything. My shopping habits aren’t out-of-control and he thinks it is a little funny how much money I have spent acquiring them.

At the end of the day, he knows that my purchases are made with a level head and that I do not shirk any of my responsibilities to fund my miscellaneous spending.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? I haven’t really done anything crazy, but I have put a bag on my credit card that I was not able to fully pay off for four months and that was brutal.

I usually try to clear my credit card every month, but the temptation was too strong at the time.

Yes, you’ve guessed it–it was for that Chanel Mini. I can honestly say that I will never be doing that again.

Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? My shopping habits become nightmarish when I am depressed. I have blown through my entire savings (accumulated from the time I first started working at 16) when I plunged into depression in my mid-20s. I did not have direction–I bought everything that caught my eye.

The only thing that stopped me was the giant zero in my bank account. That completely covered me up–I wanted a car and I didn’t have enough for a down-payment.

Thankfully, I have not gone down that road in years.

The Rest Of It

Any other expensive hobbies or passions? My other expensive love is jewelry. BUT I have been fortunate that both my maternal and paternal grandmothers (as well as my own mother) have had wonderful collections that I have not had to really go out of my way to buy new pieces. If I get bored with something, I just visit my mummy and ask to swap my rotation.

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