After a brief hiatus, closet confessionals are back and this week we take a look at the shopping habits of a young handbag lover. Three years ago he felt he had a shopping addiction and now is much more financially savvy with his spending. From his first luxury purchase (a Louis Vuitton Neverfull) to his prized possession (an Hermès Birkin), take a peek into the life of this week’s confessor as he manages his life as a young gay man who loves designer bags.
Gender Identity: Male
Location: Saint Louis, MO
Occupation: Office Administrator
Household Income: $150,000
Are you a PurseForum member? Yes
How many bags do you own? 40
How much is your collection worth? Around $25,000
What is your most expensive bag? My Hermes Birkin 35 cm with palladium hardware in the color Argyle. She took years of budgeting and hard work, so she is the absolute crown jewel of my collection!
What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? My collection is made up of both contemporary and premium designer pieces, so it is really hard to pinpoint the most important brands. The obvious choice for one of my most important pieces would be my Birkin, but I also treasure my Louis Vuitton Neverfull GM in monogram canvas.
What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? I received my first designer good at 19. I was very new to the designer world and I was in need of a briefcase for work and for school. I decided on a Coach briefcase in their monogram canvas.
Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? My Neverfull has a very special place in my heart. I worked extremely hard for over a year to save the money for my first premium designer bag. When I had a sizable bag fund accumulated, I immediately ran to my local Louis Vuitton store. After looking at several pieces, I decided on my Neverfull because of its timeless design and its universal utility. Even after 4 years of using it, it still is in impeccable shape. I treasure it because it is the first bag I really worked hard for, and I will never part with it because of my memories with it.
Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? I would have to say so. As a man who wears designer handbags, I get very polarizing opinions and perceptions. On the positive side, I tend to get quicker service and better attention whenever I wear certain pieces. It may be due to the confidence boost I get by wearing them, or it may be some mystery I haven’t quite solved yet. On the negative side, I seem to notice that some people sneer and look down their noses at me because as a gay man, it may be considered “outlandish” to be wearing such feminine pieces, but it never bothers me. I do what I please to make ME happy.
How often do you buy new bags? I have a tendency to go on binges. There will be some times that I will buy up to 5 bags in a month, and there will be times that I go months without buying anything. It all comes down to if I am feeling inspired by what is currently in-trend.
Which stores do you frequent the most? I am a purveyor of many stores across Saint Louis. My typical spots are Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, or even Dillard’s. I do a lot of online shopping as well in case I can’t make it out of the house some days.
Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? Absolutely! A great deal of my higher end bags are second-hand. I typically frequent The Vault Luxury Resale boutique in Saint Louis when I am in need of rarer pieces. I also shop on The Real Real website.
Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? I have sold older bags in the past to put into my bag fund, but those days are long gone. I consider my pieces to be collector’s items and it is very hard to part with them nowadays (hoarder vibes!).
Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? I definitely feel the pressure. I work in a very stylish and trendy part of Saint Louis, and I always see women wearing the latest trends and the newest bags, shoes, etc. At the beginning of my collecting, I felt like I was Keeping Up with the Joneses, but now I feel like I am the Jonses.
Do you consider your bag purchases investments? Absolutely. With my collection being so broad, I have both monetary and sentimental investments. Adding a new piece to my collection both increases the overall value and it also creates new memories for me. Money comes and goes, but memories are forever.
Who influences your buying decisions? TPF and celebrities typically influence my purchasing patterns. I keep a very close eye on who is wearing what and when they are wearing it, and then I evaluate if I can make it work with my current aesthetic.
Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? Yes and no. I have had an SA with certain stores and boutiques for years, and then I have just waltzed into stores and purchased items without any help. My SA with Saks has truly been amazing with me. She always calls me or texts me whenever new pieces arrive, and she even pulls things off the floor for me and invites me in so that I can see them before anyone else does.
Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? I enjoy shopping because I find inspiration not only for my wardrobe, but for my life in general. Certain pieces can make me feel an array of different emotions, and I love to feed off of that energy. That may sound a little crazy, but I look at handbags as pieces of art and I feel like that’s what art is intended to do.
Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? Definitely. I am a gay man and Latino, so there have been several occasions where I have received poor service. It ranges from not being acknowledged in a store to being constantly followed around a store because I don’t fit the typical clientele. One specific time that comes to mind is when I was shopping at a high end department store and I had to make a return. The SA that sold me the bag was working that day and was visibly upset that I was returning the piece. She snatched the bag out of my hand and threw it against the wall, processed the return, and then apologized in the most condescending and insincere tone.
Who pays for your bags? Me and only me. I make my own money, so I decide what funds go where.
Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? I used to, but now it has turned into spur-of-the-moment purchases. If I see something that I know I have to have, I go and get it.
The Taboo Topics
Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? Absolutely not. I know people who have done so time and time again, but I could never bring myself to do such a thing. A decent amount of people don’t realize that besides copyright infringement, counterfeits do a great deal more damage even on a global scale. Money from counterfeits go to such illegal activities as human trafficking and slave labor, and I would never want my hard earned money to go towards such atrocities.
Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? Unfortunately yes. My husband doesn’t necessarily understand why I need so many handbags, so there are times where I sneak them into the house whenever he isn’t home and I assimilate them into my collection. If he asks me when I got a certain piece, I usually play it off as a “oh this ol’ thing?!” moment.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? I don’t think I’ve really done anything crazy, but doesn’t mean I won’t do anything outlandish in the future!
Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? I overcame a really bad bout of shopping addiction about 3 years ago. I was at the mall every single day and I would spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. It got to the point where I was in serious debt and I didn’t know how I was going to pay it all back. Luckily, I met my husband around that time and he gave me such great financial counseling and advice that I was able to become more fiscally responsible. Now, I don’t buy anything that I can’t afford and I use credit cards very responsibly.
The Rest Of It
Any other expensive hobbies or passions? My husband and I love to travel and we love to try new, eclectic restaurants. Since we live in a larger city, new restaurants pop up all the time, and we love going to them for the food and for the overall dining experiences.