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?
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.
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.
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?