Let us take a step back in time. More specifically, to two years in the past. I know, that doesn’t seem like a long time ago. But it could just make all the difference in handbag years (and for those of us obsessed with them).
‘Twas a dark moment in the history of mankind. The pandemic was showing no signs of slowing, the global economy appeared to hold little promise for the future, and my gap year was being frittered away with that debilitating sense of uselessness that only comes when you’ve tired yourself of pretty much everything you could do at home.
It was amidst this general sense of gloom, as if straight out of a Rihanna-lyric, that I discovered love in the unlikeliest of places – within the world of luxury handbags, right here on PurseBlog.
The chief object of my desires? The Saint Laurent Sac de Jour.
And like all aspiring handbag lovers, I was under the rather naïve impression that once I got my hands on the SDJ – which I was hopeful would be soon (it wasn’t) – well, that would be IT. It would provide me with the sense of fulfillment that I felt was amiss. It would elevate my style from the sloppy WFH-wear it was to that of sophisticated and preppy academia. Owning a Sac de Jour meant that I was living my best life.
Fast forward to the present day – the SDJ continues to be a part of Saint Laurent’s permanent line (it is a classic, after all); its alleged inspirer, the Birkin, has its popularity questioned by none other than Queen Bey herself, and I have meanwhile had the opportunity to develop a small handbag-collection of my own and have, in the process, evolved.
The carryall that started it all for me, however, continues to elude me, the SDJ-shaped hole still very much present in my collection. Albeit that’s largely due to my limited budget, has the learning curve I’ve undergone since I first started fangirling about handbags put the Sac de Jour (and handbags in general) in greater perspective now that I’m actually using purses on a regular basis?
Another Look at the Sac de Jour
By now, you’re probably going to press your palms to your ears and go “la la la” if we reiterate the history of the SDJ one more time here, so I’ll spare you the details and instead discuss the significance the bag has had for the house of Saint Laurent. The Sac de Jour wasn’t the first purse Hedi Slimane debuted for the brand after its chaotically-received rechristening from Yves Saint Laurent to Saint Laurent Paris. But it was certainly the bag that propelled his new creative vision to popularity.
Eschewing the highly-embellished hardware-heavy affairs from the Y2K, the SDJ embodied an era-appropriate sleekness and minimalism that the stars and starlets alike instantly caught on to. Many accused the design of imitating the Birkin, but that didn’t turn out to be a shortcoming at all. Rather, the SDJ put a more functional spin on the Hermès Holy Grail that’s also more under the radar, can be had for $10,000 less, and doesn’t require any degree of self-immolation on the buyer’s part.
Most importantly, the SDJ made a classic design even more timeless and, together with other perennial favorites, like the Shopper Tote and the Classic Duffle, paved the way for a new Saint Laurent to keep up with the times and align itself with Yves Saint Laurent’s DNA – to devise relaxed, functional and contemporary silhouettes.
The SDJ’s Sales Performance
Introduced in 2013, the Sac de Jour was met with massive popularity that continues well into the modern day. But it has undergone several alterations since then, which have been discussed in greater detail in this PurseForum thread in particular that spans 174 pages and counting!
Namely, the original design, a favorite among the likes of Abbey Clancy and Kate Moss, featured more slouchy leather that has since been replaced by a structured silhouette and made available in various colors and materials, from croc-embossed calfskin to exotics, canvas, and shearling. The initial years of the SDJ saw several customer complaints for being excessively heavy, even in smaller sizes, owing to its double-leather interior lining. This was addressed in later years, with a thinner two-sided leather reducing the overall weight of the purse.
However, many also felt that the SDJ got too saturated in the years following its release. With the advent of logomania and archival revivals, the SDJ appeared to lose steam in the latter part of the 2010s. But that appeared to be for the better: being devoid of loud hardware or insignia, the timeless silhouette of the SDJ smoothly transitioned into the ranks of a classic.
In 2017, Saint Laurent released the Souple or supple leather version of the SDJ, that appears to take inspiration from Ms. Moss’ lived-in version of the original carryall, with a little bit of added edginess from the visible studs, leather feet, nubuck-lined interior, and a detachable interior compartment. With a more relaxed silhouette, lighter weight, and a more convenient shoulder strap arrangement, the Souple rekindled the fan-following for the SDJ. It spurred a fresh list of celebrity bag-lovers, like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
Somewhere around the same time, the fashion house also released the larger men’s version of the SDJ. Cue me!
My Thoughts on the SDJ Now
When I started ogling at handbags, I’d always held certain regard for the SDJ (it even manages to make the Kardashians look elegant!) But when I came to realize that it was also made available for men, my admiration turned into a full-blown obsession, so much so that I wrote an entire piece dedicated to it. I also wondered why there were very few men seen out and about with it save for the K-pop star, Kim Jaejoong (and in hindsight, he probably got his hands on it the same way most influencers do).
Did it matter that it was originally designed as a women’s bag? Well, not really, since the larger men’s edition, or at least the medium, was what I was likely to default to anyways. Plus, the increasing predominance of the man-bag means that there aren’t really any more rules about who gets to wear what – if the fashion world as a whole has become more androgynous, there’s little reason to limit purses to the gender binaries.
But moving on from the initial infatuation with the Sac de Jour that had me enamored and having owned a collection of three purses – a Proenza Schouler PS1, a Burberry Rucksack, and most recently, a Balenciaga Work – I’ve come to realize that the SDJ may not entirely be what I’d envisioned.
For one, the open top would be an inconvenience, not only for security reasons but also owing to increasingly unpredictable weather movements everywhere (climate change is real y’all). Plus, the lack of interior pockets, save for the detachable zipped compartment, takes a few points off the functionality factor for me. But most importantly, the high price point, even on the pre-loved market, has deterred me from biting the bullet on it until now. While that’s a positive sign regarding resale performance, sadly, it will stay on my wishlist for quite some time now.
Despite its shortcomings, the SDJ will remain my Holy Grail, at least for some time. Its accordion sides, organized interior, and the dressy-but-relaxed slouch of the Souple (the one I’m lusting over) mean that it can be dressed up or down and work in various settings. Perfectly rational concerns about the open-top will fly out the window if I happen to spot one for the right price.
If you’re looking to buy one new, Saint Laurent has recently introduced the Sac de Jour Slim for men (also called the SDJ Thin, depending on the retailer) with thinner gussets to reduce bulk. The slim doesn’t come pre-distressed. Rather, it features luscious full-grain calf leather that’ll soften with age and attain more character. And if it’s the classic you love, you can often find one on sale in myriad colorways and size options too!
Most importantly, developing a collection has made me realize that owning any purse, even one I’ve been coveting for as long as the Sac de Jour is simply a stage in the journey of collecting. The SDJ would certainly be a milestone in my collection when I can finally get my hands on one, but it probably wouldn’t be the end of the road. It would forever remain significant to me for having incited a lifelong obsession with a world that’s albeit highly materialistic but also one that brings joy to a lot of people, including myself. And perhaps this is where I see myself in the years to come, slowly working my way up until I can treat myself to an SDJ. Until then, I’ll keep hoping that someone magically sends one to me someday as a gift.
After all, stranger things have happened – or so a guy can hope!