Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Talk Cents Tuesdays: Handbag Dilemma

So I'm thinking of trying something new and having a few weekly posts dedicated to certain themes... One of which has to do with money and being a thrifty shopper!  Let's see how it goes...

I am definitely in the process of searching and wanting to invest in a good quality leather handbag that I can use a lot and be proud of and feel chic and stylish carrying around.  I have a few requirements:

1.  Must be leather
2.  Must have gold hardware if the hardware is showing, or be completely black (no shiny silver)
3.  It can have cognac leather details
4.  Must be large enough to carry all of my essentials and that includes my Nikon D5000
5.  Must have a handle and possibly a cross body strap

I am thinking the price range to be anywhere from $75 to $200.  I am not necessarily a brand snob, but if I could get a designer purse I think it would be perfect.  I don't ever stress about wearing designer clothes or accessories so a nice designer handbag is something that would be very valuable to me.

My issue stands here - I like some of the top designer brand bags including but not limited to Mulberry, Balenciaga, Chanel, etc.  I do NOT nor will I ever have the money to justify spending over $1,200 on a handbag unless by some miracle there is a crazy good deal.  With the options out there I have an eye on some Dooney & Bourke bags mainly, as well as some nice Betsey Johnson and Kate Spade bags. 

There is also a booming market of replica bags... replicas are the nicer versions of knock-offs.  I have bought knockoff  bags from purse parties and in the China towns of different cities.  Knock offs fall apart... simple as that.  But what can you expect from paying $40 for a bag made of pleather and glue and brass hardware tacked together?  Replicas use real leather and quality hardware and promise to be the quality of the original designer for about a fifth of the price.... right in my budget!! 
Is it ethical?  Are these bags produced in sweatshops and shipped illegally?  The replica and knockoff industry takes billions of dollars away from original designers.  BUT, I am not exactly a supporter of industry.  I shop thrift stores, flea markets and Forever 21 and H&M.  I am a stay at home mom with a husband in the military... we do not have the budgeting to support the LVMH.  There are tons of other people that do though.  I don't see any of the fashion houses getting shut down because I would buy a replica.

It is not always about the designer name and status either.  Simply speaking, there are few bags out there that are functionally and stylistically just perfect for what I need.  A Mulberry Alexa bag would be peeerrrrfect for carrying my goods and my camera!  I just can't afford one or justify asking my husband to buy me one.

There are a lot of fashionistas out there that say to SAVE.  Save save save and search for secondhand deals and I might be able to find my dream bag.  Even at HALF price I would not be able to afford one.

Should I write off top designer bags as just out of my reach and shoot for real quality on a more feasible level, such as with Coach or Dooney & Bourke?  I do love their pieces and I have some real Dooney items that have lasted me for years already and just get better with age.  There are outlets and they are more in my price range for sure.  But, as perfect as a Balenciaga City bag?  I don't know.

What do you think?



  1. First, check out Portero Luxury and decadestwo1 for authentic consigned merchandise. Also, look for a local high end consignment shop. I think it is possible to find an authentic preowned high end luxury brand at a great price. If not, there are some great mid-range brands as well.

    My personal opinion is that a fake is a fake, and if you can't afford the real thing, why bother? Besides, itt's illegal.

  2. thank you for the links. And i agree with you completely. I have been doing a lot more research on the ethical dilemma that buying fakes supports and it is sad. Besides, there is a personal satisfaction that comes with having an authentic luxury piece. I know I value my Longchamp bags more because of it.


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