Comparing an Hermès bag to that of almost any other brand isn’t fair under normal circumstances; when you do it with a contemporary design that costs less than $500, it’s the sartorial equivalent of bringing a gun to a knife fight. Today, though, that’s what I’m here to do.
The Hermès Victoria II has been around since 2007, and the Elizabeth and James Scott Duffel is brand new for Fall 2016. They’re both simple, basic duffels, the type of which many brands make here and there. (Balmain’s Pierre Bag springs to mind in particular.) You get two top handles, a spacious, boxy interior constructed of soft leather and a zip closure. That’s about it, except for the optional shoulder strap that Elizabeth and James provides.
The Victoria II, of course, has the advantage of being an Hermès bag and all that goes along with that. It’s most commonly made of soft, thick, durable clemence leather, and the finishing touches on the bag are all perfect, right down to the stitches. The disadvantage though, is that it has an Hermès price tag: $5,150 via Hermès.
The Elizabeth and James bag, on the other hand, is made of texture-stamped cowhide, which isn’t as supple or sumptuous, but it should be just as durable. On the whole, the Scott Duffel is a good value at $495 via Shopbop; it’s versatile and classic, and unlike many contemporary bags, it can be taken to work and won’t look dated in a year.
Ultimately, the choice between the two boils down to whether you prefer to pay a premium for the best version of a look available, or if you value getting a good version at a similarly good price instead. So, which will it be?