Let's give a virtual hands-up here if you are a twenty-something who owns/ is saving up to get a handbag that costs four-figure? Another round of virtual hands-up if you've been asked sheepishly by friends and family how much your beautiful handbag cost and they shame you in some way for having the audacity to be so extravagant? My goodness, I mean...there are starving homeless people and you just blew more than $1000 on a handbag??!
While I am fortunate enough to have never experienced being shamed by friends and family, I tend to keep my designer handbags for the weekends or special occasions only, lest my boss thinks he is overpaying me. Even though all of my designer handbags are hand-me-down or gifted by mum, I have a daily rotation of high street brand handbags for work.
While the prices of designer handbags do seem a bit silly for a contraption to hold your wallets, keys, lipstick and smartphone, there are reasons why they are so expensive...and may be just worth it after all:
Quality Material and Superior Craftsmanship
The phrase "you pay for what you get" isn't a cliche. The fact is that the best materials cost more, and fashion houses such as Chanel and Hermes only employ the best artisans and designers, and also pay them a fair wage. In the name of upholding their brand reputation and product quality, more hours need to be put in per handbag compared to your high street handbags, driving up the price for designer handbags. It's all about the finesse, baby.
Built to Last
Designer handbags are meant to outlast you, thanks to its superior craftmanship and the high quality material used in crafting these handbags. Many a dusted quilted Chanel bag has been found at the bottom of a grandmother's drawer, still as beautiful as the first day it was bought.
A few years ago my mum gifted me a basic Louis Vuitton canvas shoulder bag (as seen in the picture above) that she had been using for 20 years (8 to 10 years of daily use). Everything was intact and what's more, that special patina from the weathered leather shoulder strap and brass buckle just breathes character into the bag. More importantly, after admiring my mother with her "fancy handbag with weird logos" slung gracefully over her left shoulder when I was a wee little girl, I am now that woman and I'd like to think I look as graceful as my mum. The moment my mother passed me the handbag was almost like a rite of passage for me. How many other handbags can evoke such emotion and nostalgia?
Unless we are talking about the "limited edition" runs or fashion handbags, most designer handbags are rather conservative in style, colour, pattern and material. This makes make most designer handbags classics that are eternally stylish. Moreover, their gorgeous monogram stamped brassware never seem to rust, adding a luxurious touch that makes the handbags perfect for a special occasion or event.
In the days of fast fashion where manufacturing is outsourced and mass produced, often by people on minimum wage, our perceptions of what clothes and bags are worth has been skewed. In our grandparent's days, even though they own fewer clothes/shoes/hats/bags, but every piece was made with love and care, or even custom-tailored. The results are great fit and stylish items that lasts a long time. Designer handbags, in turn, are arguably, due to reasons stated above, more sustainable even though they cost more outright.
So, don't let other people's opinion about how much things should cost bother you - most likely they have no idea. Provided that you are not starving, conducting illegal activities or risking your credit history to indulge in your designer handbags, I say go for it! Everybody deserves to feel luxurious and fabulous. If anyone dares to insinuate that you are being too extravagant, tell them that you are upholding the values of craftsmanship, quality and sustainable fashion.
p.s. Special thanks to my fabulous mother who has amassed a collection of designer handbags over the years, which inspired me to write this post.