CC 76: The LA Bag Lover Who Traded Modern Chanels for Vintage

In today’s installment of Closet Confessionals, we’re rewinding to this sweet submission we received out of Los Angeles, prior to the COVID-19 crisis. We’re introduced to a young mother who has been through quite a journey in her nearly 20 years of bag collecting. This confessor first dipped her toe into the handbag waters with Coach, as so many of us often do, but when she got her first job right out of college is when her collecting really took off. Back then, Louis Vuitton’s Murakami Multicolor Monogram bags were all the rage, and this confessor lusted after them all, along with many of Chanel’s classics. This confessor was even able to score a grey 226 reissue with the 2005 engraving inside. Though over the years this bag lover has realized the importance of not just buying what you love, but what will work for you and your lifestyle as well. Because of this realization, this Chanel lover turned Philo-era Celine fan has since sold off many of her bags in favor of those that are more practical. She’s also begun to appreciate the beauty and quality in vintage Chanel. Read more of this bag lover’s journey of collecting below and be sure to submit your own CC!

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The Basics

Age: 39
Gender Identity: Female
Location: Los Angeles
Occupation: City Planner
Industry: Government
Salary: $100,000
Household Income: $200,000

The Bags

Are you a PurseForum member? Yes

How many bags do you own? Currently I have 12.

What bags are in your collection?
I currently have 7 from premier designers:
Celine Lizard Box Bag in Indigo
Celine Box Calfskin Box Bag in Red
Celine Big Bag Bucket in Tan
Delvaux Madame Ruban in Noir and Rainbow
Fendi Grey Mini 2Jours
I also got two vintage Chanel bags recently – a black camera bag with tassel circa 1991-1994, and a brown shoulder bag circa 1998. Chanel vintage bags are so addictive! I am constantly looking for more pieces to add to my collection now!
The rest of my collection is from mid-range contemporary brands, including 3 from Mansur Gavriel. The MG large black tote bag is the one I use for work so it’s quite beaten up now. And the two MG bucket bags are my go-to mommy bags!

How much is your collection worth? $28,000

What is your most expensive bag? The Celine Lizard Box Bag, though I got it a few years ago in Paris during our honeymoon, so it was about 30% cheaper than getting it here in the U.S. It’s not a practical everyday bag, but it’s definitely a special piece.

What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? In my current collection, I’d say Celine (Phoebe Philo’s Celine, that is) and Chanel being the two most important brands. But if you were to ask me this question 10 or 15 years ago, my answer would be so different because I have definitely been through a journey in terms of brand loyalty! I started getting into bags when I got my first job right out of college; back then I was obsessed with LV (I wanted all those Murakami’s Monogram Multicolor bags!). Then I transitioned to Chanel in the mid-2000s and I used to visit my local boutique every single week. I was a big Chanel fan back then and bought a lot of bags, including both seasonal bags and classics. But then after a few years I realized that many of the bags I bought were either too trendy (look dated quickly) or just don’t work with my life style and my wardrobe (either the bag is too fancy-looking, or simply not big enough to comfortably hold my stuff), so I sold all my Chanel (including a medium caviar red classic flap and a grey 226 reissue — yup, THAT very first reissue with the 2005 engraving inside the flap, retailed for just under $2000 at the time). Then I gave birth to my first baby so I wanted my bags to be bigger, more casual yet quietly luxurious — Bottega Veneta became the logical choice. Then Celine came into play up until the departure of Philo… These days though, I am more about buying and keeping bags that actually work for ME in terms of both functionality and aesthetic. So perhaps every piece in my collection now regardless of the brand is important as they each serve a different purpose at different occasions.

What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? I think my first designer brand bag was a Coach handheld tote bag I got from the outlet during my college years. I was probably around 20 years old.

Is there a specific bag you are looking to purchase next? Another vintage Chanel bag, preferably from the 90s! The quality of the vintage ones are just so much better than those they sell in store today! I don’t know exactly what style though (that’s the fun part about shopping vintage, you never know what you may run into that you didn’t know exist!). Though these days I am definitely into crossbody bags, so perhaps a bucket bag, or another camera bag but in a bright color like red! I gotta be careful about the style I choose though, remember how I used to own a lot of Chanel bags around the mid-2000s yet I sold them all because the styles I chose just didn’t work for me and were mostly sitting in my closet? So lessons learned, whatever I choose it gotta works for me so I’d carry it!

Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? Definitely the Celine Lizard Box Bag since I got it during our honeymoon in Paris! Great memory!

Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? Yes and no. I think for people like my friends, they already know me and know how I am as a person so I am pretty sure their perception of me is not simply based upon what kind of bags I carry — if they do then we probably aren’t really friends anyways to begin with so that won’t bother me.

At work I don’t use any of my premier designer bags, though my coworkers know I am into bags and fashion in general. As a public employee, I do deal with the public — people from different socioeconomic background quite often, and so I do think that it’s a bit too flashy to carry premier designer bags in that setting.

The Shopping

How often do you buy new bags? It depends. Sometime I could go months without buying a new bag because I just don’t like anything out there these days! The overall quality of these high-end brands is going downhill yet the prices are getting ridiculously high (yes, you Chanel!). And while I just recently got into vintage bags, with vintage, it all depends on what you run into and when! Like my two vintage Chanel, I got them both back to back in less than two months because I happened to see them both around the same time!

Which stores do you frequent the most? I am not loyal to just one brand anymore, so these days I think I go to department stores more often than a particular designer boutique. Bloomingdales and Saks in particular are the ones I go to most of the time, though I like Barneys and Neiman Marcus too.

Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? I never thought I would buy second-hand until I started looking at vintage bags recently! I got my black Chanel camera bag from a Japanese store/website called Vintage Qoo (I visited the actual store in Tokyo just a couple of months ago and it was heaven!). And I got my brown Chanel shoulder bag from a French website called Collector Square. I also check out other sites such as Amore Vintage Japan, Vintage Paris, What Goes Around Comes Around, Rebag, and of course Fashionphile.

Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? I do sell, but I usually sell because I want to clear out bags I don’t use, rather than to fund a specific new purchase. I used to sell them on ebay, but I got scammed one time and ebay sided with the scammer — I lost both money and bag (it was a Celine luggage!). Since then, I only sell to resellers now — mostly Fashionphile, but also Yoogi’s Closet and The Real Real. I get a lot less back compared to selling on ebay myself, but I got burnt, so I refuse to take any risk now.

Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? Not really. I think I am old enough to know not to let that kind of pressure to affect my purchasing decisions.

Do you consider your bag purchases investments? No, because if that’s the case I am probably the worst investor ever! LOL! I am still kicking myself for selling that 226 reissue too early in the game! I think I did earn a few hundred bucks compared to how much I paid for that bag, but considering how much the reissues cost now? And mine was the first season with the engraving on the flap!

Who influences your buying decisions? My husband. He’s a fashionista himself, yet he’s also very logical, and he understands my style and my need quite well. So it’s always good to talk to him about something I have seen and researched online, and he would analyze with me to see whether it is a good buy.

Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? Not anymore since I am not particularly into any one brand, and I shopped online more these days.

Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? I just like the feeling of getting something I like, something that suits me and works for me, at a good (or at least reasonable) price! I mean, who doesn’t?

Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? Not really. In fact, since I am Asian, it’s been the opposite — I think sometime some SAs would think that I am one of those new money from China, so they actually have provided pretty good services, thinking that I would probably spend a lot of money there!

The Money

Who pays for your bags? Myself.

Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? Not really. If I don’t have the budget for a bag, then I probably shouldn’t get that bag because now I am wondering if the bag REALLY suits my day-in day-out life! A good example is the Hermes Roulis, it’s been on my wish list for quite some time now. While I wouldn’t say I don’t have the budget for it, I also don’t know if I’d ever carry a $8000 bag to the places I normally go to.

The Taboo Topics

Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? Nope, no and no way!

Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? I used to hide my purchases from my late husband because he was so not into fashion, and I think he’d get mad at me re: my spending habits during my younger years. With my husband though, he’s a fashionista himself so there’s really no point to hide — he’d notice something himself. Besides, I like asking for his opinions before making a big purchase.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? I don’t think I have ever done anything crazy just so I can buy a bag.

Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? No, not really. I always pay my cc bills in full on time. That’s my bottom line. No matter how much you want a bag (or any material thing really), it’s not worth the financial headache and trouble down the road.

The Rest Of It

Any other expensive hobbies or passions? Food, traveling, and lately watches (thanks to my husband!).

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