CC 72: The Handbag Lover Who Balances Luxury Purchases With a Love of Giving Back

In today’s installment of closet confessionals we meet a lovely lady hailing from Malaysia. Like so many of us, her very first bag (and most special one) was a Coach bag, though she didn’t really delve deep into the world of luxury goods until she began working and bringing in her own money. As a child, she grew up with parents who were hardworking and lived comfortably, but didn’t shower their children with luxury. Rather, our confessor grew up with parents that loved to spend their income on giving back to others, and she’s still influenced by her upbringing to this day. She balances a love of luxury goods with her ever-present desire to give back others who need her help.

When it comes to the bags, today’s confessor is a fan of the big guys—Chanel, LV, Hermès and more, and while her collection is pretty impressive, many of her buys are pre-loved. She wisely sticks to a 15 bag collection policy and will sell old bags to help fund new ones. Though she doesn’t have a partner she has to hide purchases from, this confessor will occasionally try to hide luxury items from her parents due to the guilt. All in all our confessor knows who she is and works hard to stay grounded and give back while still indulging in her passion for bags. Read the full CC below and don’t forget to submit your own!

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The Basics

Age: 40
Gender Identity: Female
Location: Malaysia
Occupation: Consultant
Industry: Energy
Salary: $180,000
Household Income: $180,000

The Bags

Are you a PurseForum member? No

How many bags do you own? 14

What bags are in your collection?

Coach Cassie
LV Pochette Metis
LV Neverfull
LV Croisette
Prada Galleria
Guccissima Dome
Chanel Reissue
Chanel GST
Chanel WOC
Fendi Baguette
Saint Laurent Nikki
Saint Laurent College
Lady Dior abc
Hermes Bolide

How much is your collection worth? Maybe more than 35K USD in their worth right now, but many of my bags are preloved and I paid significantly lower for most of them.

What is your most expensive bag? Chanel Reissue because it was bought brand new at the store.

What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? Chanel Reissue, because not only it is the most expensive piece of luxury that I own, it is also the one that fit my style the best. I love its understated look, it fits most of my essentials (226), it gives off an edgy vibe (with RHW) yet classy when I want to dress up for more formal events, when required. It looks great on absolutely everything that I put on; be it jeans, dresses or power suits. I LOVE its versatility. What’s also great about it is that it will remain a classic piece for many decades to come. If I had to choose just one bag to live with for the rest of my life, it will be this stunner.

What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? I wasn’t much into luxury handbags until I started working about two decades ago, and had my own income to spend on. I had a humble beginning, my parents were hardworking and conscientious folks. Although they were educated overseas and obtained relatively high tertiary education levels as compared to many of their peers at the time, and had comfortable living, we weren’t showered with luxury. I would say that my mother especially, was a philanthropist, she donated a large sum of her wealth to needy causes (although not much by today’s standard), and was very active in charitable organisations. She also initiated and led many small scale charity work around her community. We grew up having to constantly think of others and help them in whatever ways we can. I feel good about continuing some of her work. I feel good about making whatever small changes I could to others in need and their families. I can’t say that it is all roses in this journey. There were definitely unpleasant experiences along the way; people taking advantages of the kindness and monetary support, those who abuse the trust, those who are just simply lazy and not caring much about pulling their own weight. It hurt to know that I was scammed and manipulated. But I choose to continue simply because the experiences have been humbling and I need it to ground myself. The world I live in now is very much different from the one I grew up in. I don’t want to lose myself. I guess that is a long write-up leading to the answer to this question lol. My first designer was a fabric Coach bag, which I still keep because of the sentimental value, but not included in the list of collection because it looks so worn that it isn’t usable anymore.

Is there a specific bag you are looking to purchase next? None at the moment. I have satiated my desires for now (read: 3-6 months ahead). I try to be more responsible with my purchases, especially under the difficult situation that the world is facing. Plus since I work from home now, there isn’t much places that I could bring my bags to. I guess to me at least, splurging on luxuries that I don’t need right now seems reckless and a disservice to those who need my help. I have always had to balance between my desires for nice stuffs versus the need to help others. I wish I didnt have this feeling though. It doesnt feel good to carry some level of guilt after spending my own money on myself. But I always do, and I attribute it to the way I was brought up. Wish I could loosen up a bit and be easy on myself. But the pandemic isn’t helping. I continue to be affected by those who have lost their jobs and face hard times ahead.

Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? That first Coach bag!

Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? I have noticed that in mostly three settings: when I shop at luxury stores, when I deal with stakeholders in my line of work and when there is an extended family gathering. I don’t blame them – it is what it is. The society puts an outright display of wealth on a pedestal and many have succumbed to it – it’s an individual choice. I can’t change people’s perception on me, whether it is favourable or otherwise. If they think good of me and that results to them being nice to me, I would appreciate that – we all crave for positive experiences with others right? But if they are not, then I won’t be too bothered to mind much. I take it that it is reflection of their ownselves rather than mine. What I can do, is that I don’t judge others based on their bags/belongings. I have met many great souls with deep pockets but choose to live humbly and I have met those who break the banks trying to live a lifestyle beyond their means. Looks can be deceiving

The Shopping

How often do you buy new bags? About 3-4 times a year. I try to let go or sell off those I dont use as much to make room for new ones. I have set a limit for myself, 15 bags max. I am now at 14. And so, there is only one spot left. Which makes the bag hunting a lot more fun, I feel like a thrill seeker in searching for that one last piece. In my mind, it has to tick a LOT of boxes: functionality, cross body with a top handle, brown/taupe/tan in colour and gorgeous at the same time. Hopefully not a too trendy bag because I want this to long a very long time, but I also don’t want it to look ‘boring’ like many of the classics are. Decisions! Decisions!

Which stores do you frequent the most? I sauntered by Chanel, LV and Fendi a lot, mostly to try out the styles, or to make sure if the preloved items I have across would work for me. But my absolute favourite store is Dior – the SAs seem genuinely nice and courteous. I certainly don’t get once-over glances from them as I have had from other brand stores

Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? Many of my bags are preloved. I look for excellent ratings from reputable resellers, which are plenty to choose from in my country. I also bought from preloved stores in Japan and Indonesia

Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? Yes I do. The money rotates around the collection haha.

Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? I have, especially when I leverage on IGs and Youtube for references on some of my purchases. But keeping it real to my lifestyle and the life choices that I make help to ground me. I know that I dont need much to live, a fact that becomes even more pronounced under the pandemic. Instead of keeping up with Joneses, I try to stick to my wishlist. Some of the items in my previous wishlist had never ever seen the day of light! There were some items that I had waited for 5 years or more. I remember lusting over LV Sevigne for years, and it was discontinued. I know I could probably get a decent one preloved, but if I could do without it for years, I definitely dont need it right?

Do you consider your bag purchases investments? No. I use my bags to enjoy them. I don’t baby my bags much but I dont chuck them under the bus either, you know what I mean? And so, my bags would show signs of use – and besides, I got them preloved, between the signs of love from others and from me, they are not in pristine conditions! So, nopes my bags would not give me a good return for investments

Who influences your buying decisions? Mostly myself, but social media helps to shape some of my decisions

Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? No much in my case as I prefer to shop preloved. And I am not loyal to any brands. I am loyal to certain style or looks of the bags, but not to a specific brand

Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? I dont particularly enjoy window shopping. Once I make up my mind, I am swift in my action. I dont linger beyond necessary at the stores, it is to satisfy the purpose why I go there in the first place. I am also not easily swayed by handbag models that I know for sure won’t be functional for my lifestyle. I like to browse online because the Internet is a treasure trove! I shop to buy what I have decided to buy. It sounds clinical and mechanical, I know, but I guess that’s who I am!

Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? I have, from time to time. But it doesn’t bother me, I certainly don’t want to be in the company of those who treat others unkindly, I usually leave the stores if that happens. No biggie. I try not to be affected by it. I guess if I get upset easily, I’d be an easy target for manipulation. So, no

The Money

Who pays for your bags? Me 🙂

Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? Not specifically for bag purchases, but I allocate budgets for several funds. The payment for the bags would come out from one of the funds. If the fund amount isn’t sufficient, then I’d top up with my salary income

The Taboo Topics

Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? Many years back, I was called out publicly in front of a large family gathering for wearing a fake pair of designer shoes. I remember feeling extremely embarrassed, like please earth, swallow me up now – I didn’t know some would spot the differences. Those shoes, in a weird twist of fate, was stolen from my house shortly after. Since then, I steer away from buying fake items

Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? I dont have a signifant other, so no. But I tried to hide from my parents, because I knew they’d disapprove of me splurging unnecessary. Living far away from them helped because I kept using the same old few bags that I still owned at the time whenever I visited them and stayed over. Was I being deceptive? Hmm, I think not. To me, preserving my sanity and state of mind and not having to explain how I spend on myself, and not having hurt their feelings was more important to me. I mean, enough dealing with the occasional guilt that I felt when buying these expensive stuffs – I certainly didnt need nagging from others to add to that

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? No. I am not a crazy person generally, my spending habits thankfully, takes after me 🙂

Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? I dont think of shopping as an addiction because I am not addicted to it. I just struggle with the occasional guilt after spending huge amount of money on a ‘frivolous’ want vs spending it on worthy causes.

The Rest Of It

Any other expensive hobbies or passions? I love to travel – that could be expensive. My other ‘expansive’ hobby is reading! I love reading. I have a large library of books!

Anything else you would like to include? Nothing, other than thanking you for reading. It feels like we’re bonding already 🙂

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