Luxury Handbag For First-Timers
Buying your first- ever Luxury Handbag is like screening a suitor. You ask your friends to rate him, constantly but secretly examine how he is when you're together (and test him even sometimes because yeah, girls like it that way), and pray for signs to determine that he's finally the one. As silly and critical as they may seem, they are all vital because you don't want to hand your heart to someone who'll break it in the end in the same way that you don't want to fork your $$$ to a bag that you'll end up selling on ebay.
When I was looking for my first- ever luxury handbag, I relied heavily on bag blogs and forums for advice-they were of big help especially in authenticating bags, but I noticed that most (if not all of them) tend to be so loyal to their preferred bag brands and as a newbie, it just made the search all the more frustrating-I ended up liking everything they suggested! But you know, you can't question their preference! So I just went for what I really, really wanted-the Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM-and luckily, I loved it and it's still one of my faves 3 years after.
3 years and 8 bags after, I think I'm ready now to dish out tips in finding your very first luxury handbag. Each luxury brand actually has a candidate, but I will only cover four brands, the brands that I currently have. I'll try to be as objective as possible so you'll know the important factors and issues to consider before going for a particular style and brand.
Before anything else, I just wanna say that this is a passionate (aka long) post, but you'll need it. ;)
So, let's start? Click READ MORE for the list. ;)
Here are some questions to ask yourself before choosing:
1. What size do you prefer?
2. What are your day-to-day activities?
3. Are you a bit careless sometimes or meticulous all the time?
4. How do you travel? By car or via public transportation?
5. What style do you prefer? Classy, Edgy, or a mix of both?
Yes, I know, the one you should go for is the one that you really want, but you'll never know if you'll love the bag unless you get to use it, so I'm going to discuss the following brands and present their pros and cons to you:
LOUIS VUITTON (BASIC CANVAS BAGS)
- I think almost every gal (or dude) had an LV as their first- ever luxury handbag. It is the most affordable luxury handbag and the easiest to maintain, thanks to their best- selling canvas bags or the ever popular Monograms, Damier Ebenes, and Damier Azurs. What's not to love?
LV's canvas bags start at 40k a pop and if you add a lil' more and make it 60k, you can get the oh-so-convenient Bandouliere (the one with a detachable strap). Contrary to popular belief, these bags are not entirely leather-they're made from coated canvas trimmed with leather detailing, handles, and strap. The exterior is water and oil resistant, and very, very, easy to clean, making it a popular choice for most people in the Philippines where the rainy season could go on forever. Canvas is a tough material and you can throw the bag around (but don't make it a habit otherwise the bag will look old quickly) without worrying about rips, tears, chips, or stains. The iconic LV bags are the Speedy (which is Audrey Hepburn's eternal favorite) Neverfull and they come in different sizes. There's also the Alma, Delightful, Trouville, and so much more.
These bags, however, don't have a significant resale value-in fact, they devalue quickly (Check ebay to see what I'm talking about) especially if the handles begin to oxidize (or darken), unless you have the Damier Ebene. When these bags start to show signs of aging (the Monogram and Damier Azur), they could look really, really old. It's also the widely counterfeited bag and if there's a thing called "Hot Cars" or the most stolen cars, I'd like to believe that this is a "Hot Bag Brand"or the most stolen bag here in the Philippines because LV is a very well known luxury brand here and you're most likely a target if a criminal happens to spot you lugging one. Yes, thieves have taste.
PROS: Affordable, easy to maintain, sturdy
CONS: Can look old and dirty; can look exactly the same as a replica; highly targeted by thieves
PERFECT FOR: College students or corporate people because the bags are very roomy; those who like it chic and simple
BALENCIAGA (CITY AND VELO)
- If I would be given a chance to talk with Nicolas Ghesquiere, the brains behind Balenciaga's renowned City Bags, I would just utter a simple thank you for coming up with a bag style that tops my most favorite handbag style list.
Balenciaga's City Bags are treasured by a lot of women because they are edgy, purely made from leather but are very, very lightweight.
When you buy a luxury bag, you don't want it to look common-this is why I love the City. When Balenciaga releases a color, they only do so in limited numbers (except for the staple colors such as red, brown, black, and blue) so that means you're less likely to bump into someone who has the same bag color as you. Even for the staple colors, you won't have a problem with being ordinary because they reproduce it every year in varying shades. Balenciaga's bags don't devalue quickly too and if you own a limited edition color, you're in for some luck. Another popular style is the Velo (the black one on top) because it features a longer strap and has a deeper, longer body that will allow you to accommodate more stuff. The studs that accentuate the City and Velo make it a striking, luxurious bag, but without being showy. I guess it's true when they said that elegance is felt, not shown. Oh, Balenciaga bags tend to give off this nice, leathery smell when they start to age!
Balenciaga bags tend to dry up over time and if you're quite unlucky, your brand new bag may showcase a bit of dryness already. (Others like it because it gives the bag that vintage vibe) It can be addressed though by treating it with a leather moisturizer (I recommend Leather Honey). The dryness can lead to chipping of the dye, tears, and fading, just some of the scenarios that you wouldn't want to see on your BBag. These bags are made from a soft type of leather, Lambskin, the secret to its lightness. However, Lambskin is a delicate type of leather and just one, big mistake may cost your BBag's beauty. I use the red one almost everyday and so far, I have no problems with it and it's still looking and doing great, but I have to mention that I'm more careful with it (along with The Prada Lux Saffiano) than my other bags.
I would also like to warn everyone about the Mini Giant studs (check the Velo bag): They're gorgeous, but they're not reinforced very well on the bag! I lost a stud when the handle of the Velo popped from my arm and take note, the bag only contained a wallet, a calling card pouch, and a cellphone. Other Mini Giant owners too encountered the same problem (a friend just told me about it) so even if the Regular studs look a lil' simple, go for them because they have the best quality. Oh, Balenciaga Paris' CS sucks too. I ordered a stud replacement 4 months ago and I haven't heard from them ever since-they haven't even given back the tax refund! So sad-Balenciaga could've been my most favorite bag brand and now I'm thinking twice about purchasing another City.
PROS: Ultra stylish, very light, roomy, striking, most colors are produced in small batches, good resale value
CONS: Delicate, requires maintenance, can look too rugged and dirty when it's old already, and Customer Service is a let down
PERFECT FOR: Those who want a timelessly hip bag and a bag that tends to look vintage overtime
- It only took a Nightingale for people to start noticing this brand again. Givenchy ruled the handbag world last year with the Nightingale, but the Pandora just caught my attention. Never thought that body bags could look this gorgeous!
I used to lust over the Nightingale, but realized that it's just another Balenciaga Velo with a much simpler design. What I love about the Pandora is it's so unique-it's a box bag and what can you put inside a box? A LOT!
Pandora comes in two designs: smooth and distressed. I wanted the latter before, but my love for anything simple and clean won me over again so I opted for the former instead. It's made from different kinds of leather-there's sheepskin, goatskin, and calfskin-my bag is in goatskin. This color is called Aube, but if you're gonna ask me, Pandora also looks good in the colors Orange and Moroccan Blue.
Goatskin is a pretty thick kind of leather and feels much more resistant than Balenciaga's Lambskin, although feels a lil' heavier. What I love about this bag is it hangs beautifully whether on your shoulders or across your body and since the main zipper is on top, you can open up the bag pronto. Design is not complicated and I like that it looks so clean. Maintenance is minimal because the leather is a lil' glossy, ergo pretty resistant to scratches and seems to me that the leather of Pandora has been treated well to delay the occurrence of dryness. Resale value is a bit lower than Balenciaga though.
There have been some major issues with the Pandora especially with the first versions-some users have claimed that if it's used heavily and if you put a lot of stuff in it, the handle tends to get ripped off from the bag. If that happens to me, I will surely cry hahaha! This has been addressed in the newer versions, thankfully so piece of advice, if you're going to purchase a Pandora, it's best to purchase a brand new one just to be safe.
PROS: A more compact version of the Neverfull; can be carried on the shoulders; leather feels more solid and looks as if it won't look dry and old easily
CONS: Too much weight can damage the handle; zipper tends to get stuck on the ends
PERFECT FOR: Those who want a very unique, stylish and clean- looking everyday or traveling bag
PRADA (TESSUTO GAUFRE' AND LUX SAFFIANO)
We are now down to the last brand, which also happens to be my most favorite luxury handbag brand of all time. Why? Because it fits my taste so much: Very classy and a bit edgy at times.
Tessuto is dubbed as one of the toughest bag materials in the world-I was even told that this is Parachute material and a reader commented on one of my blog posts and said that you can't cut through it easily. (But I don't want to find that out for myself!) Also, it's very, very easy to clean: you just need a soft toothbrush, warm water, and a microfiber cloth to remove lints and minor food stains. What I like about the Prada bag is it's not overdosed with logos unlike Louis Vuitton.
The Tessuto Gaufre' will forever be my favorite Prada bag because it has a beautiful texture, is roomy, and shape is simple and a classic. It's very light and the straps are mighty sturdy-there are times wherein I fill this bag to the brim and it didn't give up on me-ever! This bag is very recognizable and it's the style that will really make you do the second look and say "That's one pretty bag." Tessuto, by the way, is the most affordable line in Prada. If LV's canvas bags are perfect for the Philippines, in Prada, it's the Tessuto.
My only problem with Tessuto Gaufre' is, color could get a lil' ashy overtime especially with black because the color fades and it gathers a lot of stubborn dust and dirt. The handles are made from Lambskin and after a few months, the dye will start to fade and leave you with dark green patches. I'm a little OC about this even if I know that this is inevitable because I prefer the colors of my bags looking vibrant and uniform. Nevertheless, it's an awesome everyday bag that you can even use in smart casual events-just take out the strap for a more formal look.
If you're a corporate person and prefer a more structured bag to fit the nature of your work and activities, Lux Saffiano is a good choice. It's made from Calfskin and engineered to feel and look stable and sturdy-it will soften overtime-as with all types of leather-but the structure will still remain. Lux Saffiano comes in block colors and since the design is basic and simple, you can pair it up with almost any outfit, no sweat. When it comes to maintenance, you only need a dry microfiber cloth to remove dust (it attracts dust and lint easily) and a dampened cloth to remove stubborn liquid stains-just make sure you wipe the damp area with a dry cloth immediately to avoid stressing the dye. This bag, btw, looks gorgeous in Black, Bluette (the color I currently have), Gray, and Red.
The biggest issue of Lux Saffiano is its dyed leather exterior-most users say it chips easily and there are even horrible stories wherein the dye just chips on its own and continuously. I have experienced it myself: The bag fell from a chair and when I picked it up and checked the body, I found a chip near the handles. The bag was just a month old and the fall wasn't major. Of course I was irritated because the chip is standing out like a sore thumb, but I just shrugged off the issue because I don't want to go through the hassle of shipping the bag and having it repaired (I got it in Sydney) plus updating Prada on its status. So if you're buying this bag, be sure to check the body for chips and cracks. Your hard- earned money deserves a decent, no, a great bag. Also, Lux Saffiano feels very stiff and is heavier than Tessuto--and since material is non-expandable, you can't put so much stuff in it.
PROS: Both bags are easy to clean; design is universal and easy to pair up with any outfit; looks mighty classy
CONS: Color treatment on both bags has a poor quality
PERFECT FOR: Those who want a very luxurious- looking bag that won't cost them more than 100k; Those who like it simple, chic, and timeless.
I think I might have been too carried away with this post. Isn't it obvious? I love bags! :D I hope this has been an informative post for everyone. If you'd have to make me choose which bag brand I prefer the most, it would be Prada because their bags are very, very sturdy and for the bag style, it would be Balenciaga City because this girl is a standout!
Off Topic: I also noticed that every time I blog about bags, there are Anonymous visitors who'd comment nasty things about me like I'm a show- off and an attention- whore. If I am, I wouldn't be putting so much effort into the blog posts and say nothing substantial, right? :)
Anyway, when it comes to my preferred store, I'd still recommend that you purchase directly from the boutique so you can take advantage of replacements, repair, and the likes, although price could be more steep than expected. For online sellers, I recommend Shop A Bag! because she sources her bags directly from the boutiques in Paris and she has the cheapest pricing I know.
Let me know if you have more questions! :)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Beauty. Fitness. Fashion. Food. Travel. Unicorns. World Peace. Digify Corporation.