If you peruse our community forums, you will find many threads of people asking if specific small elements they find on their (new or used) bag are normal. There are stitching issues, creases in the leather, glue showing, scratches, and different smells. Many times we have other posters then saying they can’t see this issue, and other times posters agree with the original poster and say yes, that bag should be returned for a more pristine version. And this gets me thinking: what do we expect from our designer bags?

Managing Expectations

Is it reasonable to expect perfection?

In many ways, I would argue yes. Especially with the prices of bags rising across the board, it would seem only natural to assume that we should be given superb quality bags as well. It’s hard as a consumer to see a brand continuously raise its prices but then face quality issues on new products. Shoppers expect more as they pay more. And if for any reason their bag doesn’t come perfect, or close to perfect, consumers also then expect an exchange for a perfect bag.

Most of my bags have held up well over time. Normal wear and tear can be seen on some of my favorites, but I am someone who closely studies my bags, dissecting them when I give reviews, so I can share my honest thoughts on bags in my collection.

Stephanie’s Breakdown

Recently, I was cleaning out my bag closet, slowly paring down this vast array of bags I’ve collected over the past 15 years, and found myself feeling nostalgic over some of my favorite bags, one being the Diane von Furstenberg Stephanie Hobo. I look back and have a nice laugh, because man, that bag is massive. But I loved it so much, and actually carried it quite a bit (as you can see here and here). This was the original large version that came out, in the gold colorway that everyone from Beyonce to Jennifer Lopez was spotted carrying, and over the years DvF updated the lineup to include a few new sizes and colors.

When the medium size was released, I decided I had to have that as well and purchased it through Shopbop for $875 in blue. While DvF doesn’t fall into the premiere designer category, her bags were still priced fairly high ($875 ten years ago would be around $1,100 today if you only take inflation into account, not discretionary price increases). And for that price, I don’t necessarily expect the highest end product, but what I found when I picked this bag up 10 years later I did not expect.

The chain link leather that was used to craft the bag didn’t seem to stay in great shape, it had quite a bit of discoloration and just look far more worn than the bag actually was. But what really surprised me was seeing small little particles of material falling off of the bag from the slightest touch, leaving quite the mess from me merely picking it up. It’s not that I have the most unreasonable expectations when it comes to my bags; after all, they are bags and made by man or machine, there will be slight differences, but I was taken aback to see the bag falling apart from the mere touch of my hand.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Now, let me be completely transparent: I haven’t used this bag in probably 9 years. I definitely used it extensively during the first year I bought it, and then it was stored away in my closet of too many bags. It wasn’t in a box not getting air, it was on a wood shelf with other leather bags that have fared far better.

At first, I thought it was the actual leather falling apart but later realized that it was the synthetic black layer surrounding the interior lining that was crumbling and shedding through each hole in the woven leather. I don’t feel strongly about the bag falling apart, but I didn’t expect it either.

And that is why I wanted to talk to you all: what do you expect when purchasing a designer bag? Whether you buy a $1,000 bag or a $10,000 bag, do you change your level of expectations about how it should hold up? What seems like a flaw in a bag to you?

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Kate
Kate
3 months ago

That is very disappointing Megs. My Longchamp pliage tote that has seen years of continuous misuse continues to look pristine after a decade. Same goes for Longchamp leather bags and my old Coach bags. On the other hand my Chanel bags look worse for wear despite over protecting them from the elements. I no longer equate luxury with quality and durability.

Angel
Angel
3 months ago
Reply to  Kate

How are the Chanel bags “worse”? Losing its shape, leather cracking / peeling / fading, metal tarnishing? I lightly stuff my CF minis to help maintain their shape.

C L
C L
3 months ago

What we expect from our bags has evolved over time. When I was growing up the focus was very much on the newest, shiniest thing you could get your hands on. I don’t think it was cool to keep using a beat up looking bag unless you were deliberately going for a boho or grungy look. It’s easier to get away with shoddy construction when your customers only plan to use a bag for a year or two. But when you start asking some basic questions, it’s easy to eliminate entire brands from contention. Does the leather patina or flake as it ages? Is the hardware colored all the way through or is it going to start chipping? 

Now there’s more prestige associated with products that can withstand regular use over decades and become an heirloom piece. For me that is the #1 allure of Hermes, the willingness to back up your product for life and make repairs where warranted. Conversely, this is why I’m baffled by Chanel managing to command the prices it does.  

Overall I think it’s good for consumers to buy for the next decade in mind instead of the next 10 months. I also prefer products that are made with natural fibers and materials (cotton, linen, leather, etc) — leather will last a lifetime with good care like leather, while fibers like cotton and linen will decompose in a somewhat dignified fashion instead of becoming polyester landfill for the next thousand years. 

Tai
Tai
3 months ago

Good gravy. What a gif.

I feel like if I’m paying $1,000+ for bags I should structurally be able to carry it over my lifetime (especially since they’re typically rotated) but expect dings and wear. I have a 15 yr old Damier Ebene bag and the handles have gone sticky from use – this feels reasonable. I will say it is annoying that vintage Gucci linings are notorious for flaking/cracking – even in non-humid conditions. That feels like a flaw.

Sophie
Sophie
3 months ago
Reply to  Tai

You should ask LV how much it would cost to replace the handles on your Damier bag. That repair is done frequently and your bag will be like new! I have owned LV bags for over 25 years so I have had small repairs done over time. As long as it wasn’t something limited or a long discontinued leather, they can repair pretty much anything.

psny15
psny15
3 months ago

DVF is very poor quality so not surprising – lol

JolieS
JolieS
3 months ago

IMO the disintegration of the cloth lining of your bag is due to humidity damage.
We can expect high-end bags to be made of good quality materials and have impeccable craftsmanship, but it is up to us to keep them in good condition after purchase. This means protecting them from direct sun and moisture of all kinds, and keeping them clean.
Please check your closet for humidity so this doesn’t happen to more bags.

Alejandra Machín
3 months ago

I expect anything I pay more than $1000 for to not fall apart! 🙃

Rosendo Garcia JR
Rosendo Garcia JR
3 months ago

I do think that spending a good chunk of money on a bag, regardless if its considered premier designer or contemporary designer, the bag should age nicely, of course depending on how you store it, I have some 00s bag and they look great, I was obsessed with that versace snap out of it bag, and i had 2, sadly the glue started showing, and lifting and i thought to myself this bag was a 3k bag and this is happening, i also had a coin pouch and the zipper tarnished and it made me sad, here i am spending 500dls on a coin pouch and 3k on bags and they don’t age nicely, and i baby my bags. but i do think that they should hold up to their craftmaships.

Stephanie
Stephanie
3 months ago

I gasped out loud when I saw the gif. And now the question is what does one do with a bag like that? If you wear it out you’ll be like Pig-Pen…

microbagfiend
microbagfiend
3 months ago

When I was growing up, I pestered my mother for some hand me down handbags. She tried to give me some, but many had sticky interiors or had interiors that were falling apart. These bags i think would have been 10-15 years old when I was given them, and all from major bag brands like Gucci, LV, or Fendi. I grew up in the 90s-early 2000s, I think back in the 80s-90s brands and manufacturers didn’t have a good idea of how a “newer” synthetic material would age over time? I used to think it was my mother’s storage methods that were mostly at fault (we lived in a warm and humid climate and my mother didn’t want to “waste money” on AC or a dehumidifier), but after seeing how some of my 5 year old ferragamo patent heels have also become sticky despite the constant humidity and temperature control in my apartment, I must chalk most of the breakdown of certain luxury leather goods down to materials used. Now, I try to keep my luxury bag purchases to leathers that have a reputation to last better over time (vegetable dyed/box leathers/plain pebbled, keep away from patent, buy less of heat treated saffiano style leather). Due to my mother’s sticker bag interiors, I’ve grown up very aware of bag interiors, preferring to keep to leather lined or cotton canvas lined bags. However, I find that difficult sometimes because luxury brands still don’t seem to discuss the linings of their bags very much. I have a micro lady dior that my SA says has “suede” lining but I’m pretty sure its microfiber and I’m not sure how microfiber would hold up over time >:(

Lis
Lis
3 months ago
Reply to  microbagfiend

That was exactly my experience. I stay away from man-made materials (lux brand or not). They disintegrate over time due to the “green” material requirement imposed for environmental protection. I threw away a few Gucci and Fendi bags from the 90s because the canvas became sticky. I live in dry climate so the disintegration of man-made material is the same.

J B
J B
3 months ago

Anything in the price range you mentioned should hold up for a long time with reasonable use and proper care. That is my expectation. Like anything if I don’t take care the bags will not look their best for long. When younger I invested in Coach and they were big on promoting caring for the leather so I always had their cleaner and conditioner and regularly applied to protect what was a big investment for me at that time. As such my bags lasted and looked good and I still have one including my first briefcase that I didn’t resell along with portfolios and datebooks. All are from 90s or early 00. When I invested in LV I educated myself on how to care and store their coated canvas and maintain leather straps to ward off funky patina changes. My Celine, YSL, Mulberry purchases require care similar to coach and LV. In your case the interior inexp liner trim? failed and that’s a tough one to anticipate and the only care you can give outside of the leather maintenance is proper storage or maybe that wouldn’t have helped if the man made material was simply a bad choice or a corner cut on the part of product design.

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