In today’s confessional we meet a 70-something Floridian whose bag collection is worth $150,000. She started collecting bags in her late 30s and since then has amassed quite the enviable collection. Her closet includes covetable classics from Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Goyard, and Hermès. While she does own a few Balenciaga bags she doesn’t typically follow trends and would rather steer towards more timeless pieces. Despite her personal preferences she does still appreciate and admire new designers and trendy silhouettes.
While her collection continues to grow, today’s confessor admits that it’s really hard to part with any of her bags as they all hold a special place in her heart. After overcoming both cancer and two strokes, this survivor has enjoyed celebrating life’s obstacles with sentimental handbag purchases. One of her most prized bags is an orange Birkin 25, which was gifted to this confessor by her son after completing rehabilitation from a stroke. Read the full confessional below and don’t forget to share your own with us!
Gender Identity: Female
Location: Boca Raton, FL
Industry: Formerly Technology
Household Income: $250,000
Are you a PurseForum member? No
How many bags do you own? 25-30
What bags are in your collection?
Birkin 35 in Red with Palladium
Birkin 35 in Black with Palladium
Birkin 35 Blue with Gold
Birkin 25 in Orange with Palladium
Evelyn 33 in Black with Palladium
Jumbo Flap in Black with Gold hardware
Maxi Flap in Black with Gold hardware
Maxi Flap in Nude with Silver hardware
GST in Nude with Silver hardware
Vintage evening bag in Black with Gold hardware
Monogram Manhattan GM
Monogram Neverful MM
Monogram Speedy 35
Monogram Mirage (red) Speedy 30
Monogram Tivoli PM
Monogram Boetie Clutch
Monogram Viva Cite MM
Monogram Multicolore Pochette (black)
Monogram Denim Baggy PM
Monogram Mini Lin Bucket Bag (brown)
Damier Ebene Petite Malle Trunk Clutch
Damier Ebene Sac Plat
St. Louis GM tote in black
Sac Camera in green
Giant City Bag in Brown with Gold hardware
Motorcycle Bag in Black with Silver hardware
Motorcycle Bag in Blue with Silver hardware
Trapeze in Eggplant, Green and Gray
Paddington in Black with Silver hardware
How much is your collection worth? $150,000
What is your most expensive bag? This is probably a toss up between my Birkins. I’ve celebrated milestones with my family by getting Birkins (recovering from two strokes, surviving cancer, etc.). Two of my Birkins came pre-loved, one came from the store with a SA who I convinced to let me have one and my favorite one, the orange 25, came from my son who begged and pleaded the American Express concierge to track it down for him. That one is the most meaningful since it was given to me on my last day of rehab from my strokes.
What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? My most meaningful bag is either my orange Birkin (see above) or my original Speedy 35 that my husband got for me in the 80s. I still have it and even though it has seen better days, I will never get rid of it. We were at the mall in our hometown and I was looking at the bag, not seriously considering it, and he sent me outside and bought it for me. It was a lot of money back then for us and I will always cherish it.
What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? I was in my late 30s with the Speedy 35 from my husband. From then on, I was definitely a Louis Vuitton gal!
Is there a specific bag you are looking to purchase next? My son guides my eyes when it comes to new bags. I always look at my closet and think “Gee, I don’t need a new one!” and then he’ll show me a picture of some new bag and then I’m on the hunt. I think next I will buy the Louis Vuitton Onthego in Escale Rouge (if I can find one!).
Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? Definitely this would be my aforementioned orange Birkin. I suffered two very bad strokes within days of each other and my son and my husband got this for me as a reward for finishing rehab and recovering. It means so much and I always carry it on special occasions.
Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? No. I love my bags for what they represent to me, not for what they represent to other people, however, I do notice that when I carry a Birkin over a black nylon tote, certain people do pay more attention. I look at it as a statement about them, not about me, though.
How often do you buy new bags? Sporadically, however I love a deal, so if I see one on the pre-loved market that I have to have and the price is right, I jump on it. I recently saw a mint condition vintage Chloe Paddington on eBay at an unbelievable price and moved quick to get it home. However, if I’m buying a new bag from a boutique, then I’ll usually do it once or twice a year.
Which stores do you frequent the most? I’m a Saks gal and always have been. The Saks in my hometown has all of the boutiques I love inside of it, so it is one-stop shopping for me!
Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? Yes, I love the pre-loved market and hunting for a particular bag. I usually do eBay and Poshmark first, and have had some success with The RealReal. I also love the local consignment boutiques because I can usually get the story of the bag or the owner who had it before me. It isn’t always the case, but sometimes if the story about the first owner is particularly moving, it makes the bag seem that much more special.
Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? I don’t think I could part with any of my collection. Each bag holds a special place in my heart. My family celebrates each milestone with a new bag for me, so even thumbing through my closet brings me great memories and joy. Luckily I haven’t run out of space yet!
Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? No, although I can see where one might. I’ve been through so much, so many highs and lows, that my values and self-worth aren’t placed in a handbag. I love collecting them, and they are gorgeous to look at, but if someone said I could keep the memories attached to each one but I had to give them all up, I wouldn’t think twice.
Do you consider your bag purchases investments? Some of the bags I’ve bought for myself, I’ve definitely thought of them as investments. My Chanel GST was for sure an investment. It was the last one that my local boutique had, and although I was looking for something different, I knew that the final run was worth something, even if it was just the bragging rights (for anyone who would care…ha!) that I had one of the last ones to roll out of the factory.
Who influences your buying decisions? I don’t really follow trends. I love a classic style with a twist. I wear a lot of black clothes so I like a pop of color in a bag. I also like newer designers and styles but am very conscious of the “Oh Dear” looks. I like what Gucci is doing, but their styles are a little too young for me, so I stay away and let the younger girls snap those bags up.
Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? Not really. I don’t have any SAs that I work with, however I try to avoid online shopping as best I can and go to the boutiques to buy my bags. I like to keep people working and let someone deserving earn a commission. I do reach out to the SAs after I’ve worn the bag to let them know if I love it or if I have any questions about it, though.
Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? My friends and I love to wander the mall or local stores. It is a great way for us to socialize and get out. My son and I have always shopped together and it is also a favorite past-time. My husband built shopping centers so I developed a love of malls and stores from being on job sites with him.
Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? Once, in Paris. My family and I were shopping on a rainy day and the SA at a boutique (we won’t name it) was so snooty to us. They knew we were Americans and even though we could well afford to buy multiple items, they figured we had just ducked in to avoid the rain. Needless to say we left without purchasing anything.
Who pays for your bags? I buy myself some, my husband buys me some and my son buys me some. They love to spoil me with bags since they know I love them so much.
Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? Not really. For an expensive bag, I know that if I buy it, I may not be able to do something else, so I weigh the cost of the bag versus what I may not be able to do. I really wanted a Dior Lady bag, but it was so expensive and would have meant that I couldn’t have taken a vacation with some friends, so I decided against it. For pre-loved bags, I always look for the deals so I can usually get by with those without having to budget.
In light of the current economic climate, how has your outlook on purchasing of accessories changed short term and long term? As far as the current climate goes, I’ve pulled back because I can’t go to any stores and see bags for myself, however I still look for deals on the pre-loved market. I’m definitely more cautious because I’m not sure how it will shake out financially for all of us, so I am being much more conservative with spending in all areas.
The Taboo Topics
Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? No, although in the early 90s I frequented a nail salon where a girl came around with counterfeit bags. I resisted until she had a Louis Vuitton briefcase that I fell in love with. I could have gotten an authentic one, but it was there and I was there, and my nails were drying, so I just did it. It was a bad fake but I had to have it. I used it a few times and then it broke and I put it away.
Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? My husband and I have separate closets and bathrooms, so I can bring something home, put it away and trot it out at the right time and he usually doesn’t know. My son is more observant and when he is at our house, I know he goes and looks in my closet for any signs of new bags.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? Saks was running a promotion where you could get five times the points and trade them for a gift card, which would work at the designer boutiques. I did holiday shopping in the middle of the summer for friends, family, employees, etc. in order to get a big gift card at the end of the promotion. It worked and I bought a new Louis Vuitton bag with it the gift card!
Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? I think it can be a problem, however I don’t feel bad putting something back if I don’t love it or don’t feel that I will use it. I don’t have too many regrets hanging in my closet.
The Rest Of It
Any other expensive hobbies or passions? I love shoes, especially Ferragamo heels. Jewelry is also a fun thing to collect, and I love interesting vintage pieces. My husband and I play golf and we take a couple cruises a year. We don’t skimp on them and we enjoy them to the fullest.
Anything else you would like to include? “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”