Balenciaga Classic City Bag Review + Spot a Fake Balenciaga Classic City!
In 2003, Balenciaga introduced their most iconic bag yet, the City. All over the world, a majority of luxury handbag lovers would opt for the City as their first Balenciaga as it is highly versatile, durable, and functional. An undeniably chic and stunning purse, the City still remains as Balenciaga's most coveted handbag and perhaps, one of the perennial arm candy favorites in the universe of fashion. We'd have to thank Nicolas Ghesquière, the genius designer of Balenciaga who brought these plush, light leather bags to the world.
Here I am again, back with a helpful post for all luxury handbag heads like me, and for those who are saving up for their first Balenciaga Classic City. Please be reminded that this post is only intended for the permanent and recent Classic City line (2010-present).
Screen shot taken from balenciaga.com
First things first: Balenciaga Classic City currently comes in three styles: This, Motorcycle City, and the new Mini City. This is probably the luxury handbag style that has undergone tons of changes throughout these years to fight counterfeiting and to arrive at this simple but gorgeous style today, although it is the hardest to authenticate as the changes are a lil' confusing. Here are some of the important changes that you have to know:
In the previous years, City bags were made from Chevre (Goat leather) and in the latter part of 2007, all City bags were finally made from Agneau (Lamb leather or Lambskin). There were also limited edition City bags to commemorate its 10th anniversary that came in various prints (e.g. Animal Print and suede), styles (e.g. Perforated City), and even hardware (e.g. Nickel Hardware). There will be (or already) discontinued hardware styles too such as Giant Hardware (GH or G21), Rose Gold Hardware (RGH), and Giant Covered Hardware (GCH or CGH)
You don't have to know all these things, unless you're buying a second- hand City. (Of course you have to know if what you're buying was really released by Balenciaga in the past) If you're going to buy your Balenciaga Classic City this year or in the next years, you only have to know the things in this post. (Unless Balenciaga releases an official notice)
Balenciaga Classic City RH retails at P80,000.00 in Greenbelt 5. In Paris, it's 1,035 Euros excluding tax. (Approximately P60,000.00+)
Disclaimer: This authentication post is only intended for the featured bag.
Click READ MORE for the review, and be your own Balenciaga Classic City connoisseur!
The City is square in shape, but cannot stand erect due to its super smooshy leather. FYI, Agneau is the softest and most delicate leather. City measures at 9.4" x 14.8" x 5.5".
The back part of the City is just plain.
The bottom is made from one strip of leather where the ends of the front and back part meet.
The sides of a classic city has this rounded triangle shape.
An authentic Balenciaga bag doesn't reflect so much in flash photography-it just comes off a lil' shiny.
The leather on all Balenciaga bags have the trademark veining-they're 3D so you can really feel them and they make the bag appear textured and distressed. Balenciaga bags are made to retain their naturalness, hence intrinsic leather qualities such as this is present. The gaps in the veins tend to develop white marks overtime which means the bag has aged, although there are some brand new bags that show signs of aging already.
If your bag or the bag you're eyeing is stiff, has the wrong measurements, refracts and reflects light heavily, has a very smooth, lacquered exterior, and the veins seem to be printed on, BEWARE!
HANDLES AND STRAP
The handles are made from Agneau as well, but they're the toughest and thickest parts of a City. The handles are reinforced with rope that is secretly looped somewhere within the straps. The rope's color is uniform with the bag-this goes to other colors and styles as well.
Cities have clean, even tone-on-tone stitching all over the bag.
The strap comes with a leather- made shoulder pad so you can hang the bag on your shoulders comfortably.
Back part of the shoulder pad. Notice that it has keepers on both ends so you can adjust it, and has a curvy shape.
If your bag or the bag you're eyeing has uneven and messy stitching, the handles feel thin and stretchy and don't have rope on the handles, and the shoulder pad has a solid shape and is stitched onto the strap, BEWARE!
MIRROR, ZIPPER LINING, ZIPPER LINING, AND TASSELS
Most Balenciaga bags, especially the City, come with a mirror that's usually attached on the handle and kept in the external pocket. The mirror is enclosed in a leather frame.
The zipper lining has big teeth-it cannot be opened that easy, but the zippers can go through it fluidly. The color of the zipper lining should be uniform with the type of hardware. If hardware is RH or Regular Hardware (Brass), the zipper lining should be in that hardware too.
City bags come with tassels on the zipper pulls. They're thin and soft, and the most delicate part of the bag.
The main zipper lining comes with two zipper pulls and 4 tassels, while the external pocket comes with one zipper pull and two tassels.
Balenciaga's trusted maker for all things zipper is Lampo.
Closer look at the tassels. Notice that they also bear the trademark veining.
If your bag or the bag you're eyeing has very short and a few tassels, the zipper lining and zipper pulls' color is not uniform with the hardware, the zipper pulls don't have the flat metal body, and the bottom of the main zipper pulls don't bear the Lampo logo or if they do, the logo is either tilted or messily engraved on, BEWARE!
Balenciaga has quite a library of hardware for their bags. Here's a list of the permanent hardware styles (and some of the Limited Edition ones too):
RH- Regular Hardware made from Brass
FBH- Flat Brass Hardware (The very first hardware. I don't know if this is still produced today)
PH- Pewter Hardware (Available in 2003-2004)
RGGH G21- Rose Gold Giant Hardware
GSH/SGH G21- Silver Giant Hardware
GCH- Giant Covered Hardware (Metal hardware covered with leather)
The hardware has sizes too, but it normally refers to the studs of the bag:
G21- The largest hardware. It was discontinued and replaced with G12
G12- Mini Giant Hardware. Smaller than G21, but larger than the regular hardware.
RGGH G21 (Rose Gold Giant Hardware) is now known as Giant 12 Gold City, and GSH/SGH G21 is now known as Giant 12 Silver City. GCH was replaced with Brogues Hardware, a much lighter and smaller version.
So here are the hardware parts of a Balenciaga. The stud is present on the external pocket and handles of the bag to serve as reinforcement and design. My bag is in RH (Regular Hardware). RH is made from aged brass-overtime, it oxidizes and reveals a rustic, faded appearance.
Studs on the handles.
On the edges of the bottom of a City, you'll find studs too plus a buckle resting on a much larger leather pad.
This is the Rivet. This is what keeps the handles attached to the bag. There are only four rivets on a City, and they're all located on the handles. Notice that the Rivet has a semi- deep C- cut on both ends.
The Ring can be found on the sides of the bag, and it's where you attach the strap. The ring is very thick and feels very hard.
This is the Bale, the part where the hook is attached. The quickest way to tell if a Balenciaga City is fake or not is through the Bale. Authentic City bags have a thick, oblong- shaped Bale, and its end wraps on the hook.
Finally, this is the clasp. It is hooked onto the Ring. The clasp is a lil' wide and thick, and can't be opened that easy.
If your bag or the bag you're eyeing has a squared- off Bale and the hook rests on top of it, the ring is thin, color comes off or chips, the clasp opens easily and feels thin, and the Rivets don't have the C-Cut or if they do, it is shallow or almost V-shaped, BEWARE!
The interior is lined with Black- colored textile. It is thick, and has this Khaki pants feel to it. Balenciaga bags are lined with Black textile only.
On one side, there are two open pockets.
On the other side is where you'll see the inner pocket. The zipper lining is the same as the main one, and the zipper pull comes with two short tassels.
Here is another important part of a City: The tag. Balenciaga experts will ask for this should you ask their help in authenticating a bag because one look at it, they can identify if the bag is fake or genuine. All City bags (as well as other selected styles) only have a metal tag that rests on a leather pad. The letters are thin and pointy, and the top part of the leather pad has black stitching. Pay attention to the number 115748-this is the ONLY number code for City.
On the backside, 115748 along with other numbers are heat-stamped on the leather. The alignment of the numbers should be straight. At the bottom of the leather pad is where you'll find MADE IN ITALY.
If the bag or the bag you're eyeing doesn't have two open pockets on the interior, comes with a leather tag, has a metal tag but no leather pad, number code is not 115748, does not have MADE IN ITALY or much worse, claims to be made in another country, the metal tag is not shiny, and the numbers and words are tilted and placed off- center, BEWARE!
CONTROL CARDS AND LEATHER SWATCH
You'll find the following inside the bag. These should be kept as they're proof that your bag is authentic. You should get the following: Care and Maintenance Card, Controllato Card, Bag Information card, and a small leather swatch in a styrofoam- like pouch.
The leather swatch has all the characteristics of the bag's leather.
The Care Card is just a one- fold cardboard- like paper, and the control card is just a small cut- out, not a huge credit card type.
Here's the Bag Information Card. I'll show you how to read it:
2013- Year of Production
3- Determines if the bag is from the Spring/Summer or Fall/Winter collection. 1 is for S/S, 3 is for A/W.
115748- Number code for Balenciaga Classic City. Should be uniform with the one on the heatstamp and metal tag.
D94JT- Number code for RH or Regular Hardware
If your bag or the bag you're eyeing does not have these items or lacks one or two of them, the leather swatch feels stiff, Controllato Card looks like a credit card, and Bag Information card does not contain the details I wrote above or if it does, the details are shuffled and inconsistent (especially the number code for the bag style), BEWARE!
DUST BAG AND PAPER BAG
My City bag came in a dust bag only-no box. The dust bag has this cheese cloth- like texture and the strings are made from cotton. Brand new Balenciaga bags don't come with a tag hanging on the handles, and paper or plastic wrap on the handles and strap.
The paper bag of Balenciaga is just very plain and simple: Color is white, rigid and structured, and material feels like embossed paper.
If your bag or the bag you're eyeing has a box, dust bag is made from a thick cotton cloth or satin, and strings are thin and come in a shade other than white, BEWARE!
Photo Credits: Google
For you reference, here is a fake Balenciaga Classic City. Almost looks like the real thing, right? Scary!
Balenciaga City is the perfect everyday bag because it's compact, the expandable body can fit quite a number of stuff, and can be handled as an arm bag or a shoulder bag. This bag pretty much fits all of my activities: It's clean and classy, thus it can be used in semi- formal or cocktail events, and the studs and tassels give it this casual "street" look. It's a must- have daily bag for leather lovers as it is dubbed as the lightest leather bag ever. Couldn't agree more!
IS BALENCIAGA FOR ME?
I've mentioned that Balenciaga bags are made to retain their natural qualities, therefore it is not a bag for the careless. As I said, it's quite delicate so it is prone to scratching especially if you just toss it around or you put it anywhere. As much as possible, you should keep water or any form of liquid from touching the surface so as to prevent the dye from fading or bleeding-that means it's not a good idea to use it during rainy days, unless you have it waterproofed professionally. You would also be needing leather moisturizers to condition it once the leather dries up. But don't think that these pricey bags are not at all sturdy-they're built to last but of course, care and consideration will be required from your end so your bag/s will look brand new for a long time. Lastly, all Balenciaga bags eventually look very vintage overtime so if you want a bag that will still look decent after all these years, might I suggest that you check out another brand.
That's all and I hope you found this post helpful! :)
Check out my other bag reviews:
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