Some of our confessionals are shorter and to the point while others go over all of the smaller details that makes one a handbag lover. This is the latter and a really interesting and thoughtful read for all bag lovers. This week we take a peek into the bag collection of a 34-year-old doctor who waits to buy bags until she’s traveling to get the best pricing and spends time thinking about each purchase. She believes bags shouldn’t be considered investment pieces (though she says her Chanel bags hold resale value well) and she carefully plans out each bag she buys. Grab a cup of coffee and sit down for a delightful and thorough read!

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The Basics

Age: 34
Gender Identity: Female
Location: South East Asia
Occupation: Doctor
Industry: Healthcare
Salary: $100,000
Household Income: $200,000

The Bags

Are you a PurseForum member? Yes.

How many bags do you own? 21.

How much is your collection worth? $40,000

What is your most expensive bag? The most expensive spend was a Chanel Medium Classic Double Flap in silver hardware and caviar leather from the Bond Street store in London. The most valuable item I have is probably a Chanel Reissue in pearly metallic blue python from 2009-2010 as its value has probably appreciated higher than the Chanel medium classic.

What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? My first luxury bag was a Chloe Paddington. I still like the style of the Chloe bags but haven’t liked any of them enough to buy a second one.

The next bag that came along, was a Tod’s Sacca G bag in dark brown, which I carried to death and it was with me through thick and thin.

My Chanel Medium Classic Flap broke the price barrier. Before that most of my bags were limited to less than $5,000. After breaking the price barrier, I bought a few more Chanels after that to add to my collection.

My hubby helped me buy a Black Caviar Chanel New Medium Boy when he passed through Heathrow. It was initiated by me, and later on the conversation went something like “do I need to pay you back?” “No, you don’t, its a present.” 😉 That is the first and only bag he bought for me (before this I bought them all myself) so it was nice.

What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? I was 27 and it is the Paddington bag as mentioned above.

Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? The Paddington was the first luxury bag that my mum bought for me while we were on holiday in London. I had just passed an exam and this was sort of the reward. That was the first bag in my collection. I browsed through so many bags, thought about it for eons, before deciding on it. The other bags in the same price range then were the Mulberry Bayswater, Alexa, Miu Miu Matelasse etc. I recall walking into the Chanel and LV shop in Selfridges and being scared off by the price tags. When I saw the Paddington, I fell in love with the funky lock, shape and handles. Its heavy though, so I haven’t really brought it out much. Also, I’m just scared that if I bring it out too much I’ll damage it and I would feel really sad.

The Tod’s Sacca G bag, on the other hand was quite the opposite. My mum bought it while on holiday in Milan. We had loved the bag when we were in London but couldn’t get a nice colour. I carried that bag to death (particularly because it was a great size (fits A4) and a dark colour which wouldn’t show when dirty) and it was fraying all around the edges and at the straps after a year of use. I put my 13 inch Macbook inside, hung it on toilet doors, put it on the floor etc. However it was a memorable piece so I brought it to the bag spa to get it restored – to my dismay it will still never be as good as it was when brand new. Since then I haven’t carried it much because I don’t want to destroy it further.

I have a Balenciaga in giant covered hardware that I bought off eBay in 2015. That was my first time buying a second hand bag, also my first purchase online! That was when I was introduced to PurseForum, PurseBlog etc and I was pretty impressed by the kindness of the ladies who did online authentication services out of their own time and heart! Kudos to them.

The bag I bought was painted over by the previous owner and wasn’t it too good shape. So I brought it to be professionally repainted. However, the texture of the leather and colour just cannot match an original. After this, I learnt ‘Prevention is better than cure’. Better to take care of the bag than to use it horribly and expect it to be patched up like new.

Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? A little?

I don’t usually carry my very expensive bags unless there is an occasion like a dinner or something. My close friends do know that I’m into brands, but I don’t think they know the extent of my collection. Also they are not into brands so they may not know what I’m carrying as I’m into the more understated look. Regardless, it doesn’t affect their perception of me because we’ve been friends since we were teens!

I’ve some friends who are also into bags and we occasionally discuss our latest buys with each other, or ask each other about their opinion on a particular bag.

At work, I usually carry a canvas bag because its light, durable and washable. I don’t bring my branded bags to work much because they are usually heavy, less durable and spacious than the canvas bag (I like bringing around my Macbook which doesn’t fit into most bags ;).

My luxury bags usually sit in the cupboard and only come out on weekends. I use them on a rotation basis. When I’m going to a more upmarket place like an expensive restaurant or shopping in a branded store, I try to change my canvas bag to one of them. Unfortunately, first impressions do count, and I find I get more attention when I enter a shop carrying an expensive bag. Once though, I was at an LV store and they didn’t even bother to attend to me, despite my carrying a Chanel Boy! I guess their business is just too good!

There are so many people carrying branded bags around nowadays I don’t think carrying a branded bag catches the eye as much – unless its a super rare bag, or a Birkin (which is still quite rare). Also, as my bags are pretty understated, only those in the know will appreciate what I’m carrying. I still can’t bring myself to buy an LV monogram. I somehow feel it doesn’t suit my style and its a little too flashy for my liking.

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The Shopping

How often do you buy new bags? I almost never buy them brand new locally because it just doesn’t make sense to me to pay so much more when I can buy them cheaper in Europe.

For new bags, I tend to purchase them at the airport – either locally or overseas, so the frequency of purchase depends on when I travel. I simply cannot buy a bag when my family and kids are around, so it can only be when I’m travelling alone, or with my mum (who appreciates a nice bag though she doesn’t spend so much on her own bags).

On average, I would say I buy a bag every 6 months to a year, since I’ve amassed 21 bags in the past 7 years.

For second hand bags, it happens quite randomly. So far I’ve been hit with the Balenciaga and Celine fever. When I’m into these specific designs and brands, I look for them online or at consignment stores because some of the designs are out of production (like the Balenciaga G21 rose gold in dark knight, which I’m still searching for) and also because second hand prices are always cheaper.

Which stores do you frequent the most? I’m not a cult follower of a brand. I buy designs I like. The designs need to be functional (eg. fits umbrella, phone, water bottle, diapers, laptop) and multi-wearing (e.g. shoulder and crossbody) if possible. Most of my bags are medium to large sized. I don’t really like dainty bags that only carry clutch style, or fit only a purse and car keys.

When I’m interested in a brand or a bag, I do a fair bit of extensive research online before deciding what to buy. I tend to check out the Chanel online store to look at the sizes and designs in season. Sometimes something on PurseBlog catches my eye and I click on the link to find out more.

Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? Yes.The good thing about buying second hand is that its so much cheaper! And sometimes, the condition of the bag is pristine. Initially I was a little reluctant to buy a second hand bag because I thought ‘who knows where its been?’. I still have that mentality now, but I became more open to buying them after I tried out a bagspa. I feel a good bagspa for a second hand bag cleans out most of the dirt and grime. I only buy very selected second-hand bags in good condition, because I have found that no matter how good the bagspa is, they cannot restore the bag to its original condition. If the second hand bag has signs of wear and tear and stains, its a no-go for me.

For out of production styles, you can only get them second-hand! My first second-hand bag was from eBay. I’ve also bought direct from sellers (with good reputation) who list their wares on Carousell, once from an auction and from consignment stores.

I also remind myself, that by buying second hand, I reduce waste because I give the bag a second lease of life.

Now though, with the birth of super fakes, I’m a little hesitant to buy the common second-hand items unless I trust the store, its via eBay where I can return the item if I believe its fake, or the seller has something to prove the item is genuine, like a receipt. I also feel its probably safer to purchase second-hand ‘rarer’ items such as python/strange colours etc as the counterfeiters would want to make something with larger quantities for more profit. I haven’t really tested this theory though.

I’ve spotted quite a few fakes on eBay whilst looking through their luxury pages. I think everyone should do their research prior to buying such items online (warning signs include new members, priced too good to be true, vague comments, based in a different country from the shipping country). Its just such a big hassle to get your money back!

Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? Not entirely. But if I think the bag doesn’t work for me, I sell it. I loved the Mulberry Bayswater very very much and finally decided to buy it for Christmas. But when I got it, I realized it was a little too heavy and stiff, the uni-compartment made it hard to access the deepest portions of it and also I didn’t like that I had to keep opening and closing the flap to get my stuff inside. So I sold it. The same thing happened to the Celine trapeze – it was beautiful to look at but the leather was so fragile I figured I wouldn’t use it much.

I sold both items via Carousell which is an app that links buyers with sellers. I haven’t brought my bags to consignment stores yet, because I’m not in a hurry to sell my items and I hear that they cut the price quite a fair bit.

After selling the bags, I don’t rebound and get a new bag though. I just wait till something I like comes around. There was once I returned a Alexander Wang Marti bag and kept the credits for an entire year before buying the Falabella bag.

Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? No. Definitely not. While there are many trends, I don’t go for ‘it’ bags. I buy a bag only when I feel it looks nice, fits my stuff, looks nice on me and I can afford it. If it happens to be an “it” bag, so be it. (Pardon the pun! ;))

Do you consider your bag purchases investments? Yes and No.

There was once I bought a Mulberry del Rey at half price, thinking that I could easily sell it if I changed my mind. That was 4 years ago and no one has bought it yet. So I decided to use it and I realised that I like the bag! Its a great size and fits my 13” Macbook. I’ve not taken care of it very well and I use it as my airplane bag, so it gets stuffed under seats and placed on the floor. The leather has aged pretty well, but the tan colour doesn’t hold up too well against soup spills and water stains.

Since then, I realised that the main reason why I buy a bag, should be because I like it and I want to use it. Definitely its resale value is a consideration, but should not be the main reason for the purchase. Also, of all the bag brands I own, I think only Chanel significantly retains its resale value (partly due to the ever increasing price hikes). I’ve found that all the other brands such as Celine, Prada etc depreciate in value upon resale, even if the bag is brand new, so there is really no point in buying a bag, just to sell it.

I do think, that a timeless bag collection withstands the test of time and I don’t foresee myself carrying them when I’m 70. I hope to first share them with my daughter (if she’s interested) and later when she proves herself worthy, I’ll pass them down to her.

If I become desperate, I may sell them for a quick buck too!

Who influences your buying decisions? No one really. I gravitate towards classic bags, so I only buy them if they look nice on me and fit my needs. I don’t really buy something because a celebrity is carrying it, but if it looks nice on them, I may try out the bag when I pass the shop the next time!

My husband doesn’t restrict my buys, though he reminds me on and off to save money. My mum just tells me what looks nice but she doesn’t influence me.

Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? I don’t shop in the same place all the time (since all the airports are different), so I don’t have a close relationship with a particular sales associate. Recently though I’ve noticed a trend where the sales associate will send an email or text message after the purchase and during holiday season to remind you of their presence. I guess if there is an item I’m looking out for and I’m passing by the shop/country then I can contact them to ask them for the pricing and availability to guide my decision on whether I should buy it locally or wait till I travel overseas.

Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? When I’ve set my eyes on something (eg during Balenciaga fever where I wanted to get the G21 hardware, or a Chanel reissue), I do a fair bit of research – the size, what fits, how it looks when carried on others etc. I also research on the material the bag is made of and whether its durable/hardy/water resistant etc. At the same time, I read up about authentication so I can get some ideas on whether the item (if its second hand) is authentic. After that, I look around everywhere (online, shops, consignment stores) to see where I can get the best deal. Its great that most consignment stores also have an online site so I can browse them easily.

Then I sleep on the idea for a couple of days to weeks to months – if I find myself still thinking about the second-hand item, then I will probably buy it. Sometimes I do regret sitting on it for too long because it gets snapped up by someone else – then I remind myself its alright, it frees up my money to get something else, and that I probably sat on it for so long because I didn’t ‘want’ it hard enough to part with the cash.

If the item is cheaper overseas, I wait till I travel. Sometimes, the desire to get them fizzles out by the time I travel, and I remind myself of the money I saved! Since what I want are mostly classic items, they are usually available all year round, so I don’t rush to get them. While I’ve heard Chanel sells out its bags, I was fortunate to buy one the day I went (Tuesday, I was told the stock just arrived).

Buying the item is like the reward for all my work and time put into the research I’ve done. I’m also (fairly) convinced I’ve gotten the best price I can, which I sometimes use to justify my purchase.

Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? Definitely! Sometimes when I’m in Jeans and a t-shirt and carrying a ‘non-brand’ bag, I get very little attention. Of course this doesn’t happen everywhere, but I’m cool with it, because I get to just walk very quickly around the store, see what I want to see then walk out. It’s their loss, not mine! 🙂

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The Money

Who pays for your bags? Mostly me. My mum bought me a few, and my husband paid for one.

Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? No. I do not have a bag fund.

The Taboo Topics

Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? No. If I can’t afford the item, I’d rather save up for it, or buy something that I like which is cheaper. After learning about authentication for certain brands of bags (Balenciaga, Celine), I’ve learnt to spot fakes and I’ve seen quite a few when I’m out and about!

Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? Yes! Not intentionally of course, but we have our own cupboards at home. I put the bags in my cupboard, box and all (usually when no one else is watching) when I get back home . They sit in there for months, until one day I decide to use it and take it out. Sometimes they don’t get attention at all. Sometimes I get a comment “Is that new?” and I just say “Oh, no, I bought it ages ago! Just haven’t carried it much.” 😉

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? Nope, nothing crazy!

Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? I don’t think I have bought stuff just for the sake of buying something – which is what an addiction probably is? I do however, find it hard to resist a pretty bag and a good buy. For example, the second-hand chanel reissue I bought – it was a real good price for python and I had always wanted a reissue. So I thought about it for a while then went ahead and bought it. Sometimes the purchases happen in a short span of time (like 3 bags over 2 months) because everything just comes together – I see a bag I like, its a good price, I’m also going overseas and I feel guilty at having spent so much money in a short span of time. So then I remind myself not to spend anymore and then it’ll probably be 6 months before I buy anything again.

There are also times, when I keep thinking about a bag, but I’m in a frugal mood and I don’t buy it – these times I am proud of myself! I think its also because the bag didn’t attract me enough to spend that kind of money on it.

The Rest Of It

Any other expensive hobbies or passions? I also own a number of pairs of branded shoes and small leather goods. I find that while I pay more for the shoes, they last longer and look good for most occasions – casual or formal. Furthermore, even when I don’t wear them for a long period of time, the shoes stay in shape – the leather doesn’t break down/rub off and the sole doesn’t fall off. I’ve got a pair of Tod’s Moccasins that I’ve worn for 3 years and I don’t have the heart to throw them away. The sole is flopping off and I’ve repaired it twice because the top looks good as new. Its the same thing for the SLGs! I’ve got this small Prada coin pouch I’ve used daily for 4 years and its still good! I’ve got no excuse to change it! I feel that its reasonable to pay for quality, and this helps reduce waste.

Anything else you would like to include? In the recent years, I’ve been made more aware about the leather industry and the cruelty behind the manufacturing of leather goods has put me off a little. Before I buy a bag, I now think about its effect on our environment and the animals and it does make me think twice.

While I’m not Vegan, I’m pleased that there are a few Vegan brands out there and I do hope that the luxury brands create a Vegan line. If there was a Vegan Paddington, I would buy it! I’ve only got one Vegan bag (the Falabella) and I’ve been pleased with it so far.

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