CC 78: The Celine Lover With a Passion for Sustainability

In today’s closet confessionals we meet a handbag lover on the brink of 30 who has worked hard to tone down her consumption habits. This Celine-loving marketing professional has learned to balance her love of designer bags with more sustainable shopping habits. Earlier in her 20s this confessor used to shop more brazenly, over-purchasing items that she eventually grew out of love with. She’s since sold off bags that she no longer used, and despite losing a little bit of money, she doesn’t regret any of the purchases, stating: “I like to think that each of these bags helped me refine my tastes!”. This confessor has become extremely passionate about sustainability over the last few years, choosing to purchase items secondhand or from brands who value sustainable business practices. Because of this attitude towards bettering our environment, this confessor’s purchases are highly calculated and well thought out. Read the full confessional below and don’t forget to submit your own!

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The Basics

Age: 29
Gender Identity: Female
Location: San Francisco
Occupation: Marketing
Industry: Tech
Salary: $110,000
Household Income: $190,000

The Bags

Are you a PurseForum member? Yes

How many bags do you own? 6

What bags are in your collection?

Celine Phantom Cabas
Celine small Classic (box)
Celine small Trotteur
Celine Sangle Seau
Loewe small Puzzle
Fendi Camera bag

How much is your collection worth? $10,000 (at time of purchase)

What is your most expensive bag? At time of purchase, Celine Sangle Seau. At current market value, Celine small classic box.

What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? The Celine small classic box because it was the second designer bag I had ever purchased. After getting a job post-college, saving up, and wanting to make a designer bag purchase for YEARS, my friend and I went to Paris during our Eurotrip. After landing in Paris, we had lunch and then immediately went to Champs-Élysées for a shopping spree. My first purchase was technically the Gucci Soho Disco (I’ve since sold that bag), which was a bit of an impulse purchase and it actually softened the financial blow/gave me the confidence to purchase the bag I’d been saving up for – The Celine small classic box. I remember being a bundle of nerves and excitement as I walked into the Celine boutique. I was in complete awe of all the beautiful decor and bags around me as I talked to the sales associate and decided whether to purchase the Celine small classic box over a glass of bubbly. My head was fully in the clouds that day and I just remember laughing and having so much fun.

It was an experience that exceeded any expectation I had for my first designer boutique experience. The memories we made transcend the bags we purchased themselves and every time I look at my Celine small classic box, I’m reminded of this day and it just brings the biggest smile to my face!

What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? I purchased a Marc Jacobs bag at the age of 19 (and many more throughout college), but my first big-time designer purchase was my Celine small classic box and Gucci Soho Disco at the age of 25.

Is there a specific bag you are looking to purchase next? I’m considering adding a belt bag/fanny pack to my collection. Potentially the LV empreinte or wave version. With COVID-19 keeping us locked away at home though, it seems somewhat unnecessary, so it may be a while before I pull the trigger on any bags again.

Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? Celine small classic box and Celine Trotteur because they were purchased in Paris and Florence, respectively. I’m a huge Phoebe Philo fan, but wasn’t able to afford Celine until the end of her reign at Celine, so the limited number of items I have from her era are extremely sentimental to me!

Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? Absolutely. I’m not really interested in most of the “it” or “holy grail” bags, especially ones with highly recognizable, flashy metal logos (i.e. chanel, dior, etc.). I buy what I like, which are mostly subtle, but beautifully made pieces. I like being the only one around me to know that I’m wearing a designer piece.

The Shopping

How often do you buy new bags? For a while, I was purchasing 1-2 per year, but as I’ve sold a few bags and learned more about what I do/don’t like in a bag, I’ve been purchasing a lot less frequently. I haven’t purchased a single bag this year due to COVID and probably don’t plan to until next year.

Which stores do you frequent the most? I used to frequent Celine the most during the Phoebe Philo era, but since she left, I haven’t had a favorite brand. I would say that I really like the clean aesthetic of Loewe and the vintage-feeling pieces that Fendi occasionally releases (like the logo camera bag I have).

Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? Yes! I purchased my Fendi camera bag from The Real Real and saved a couple hundred bucks! Not only are you able to save some money, but it’s also better for the environment! I love buying second-hand because you can take a bag off someone’s hands instead of adding another product to the consumer goods cycle and you can practice circular fashion in the easiest way. Plus, if a bag is well-made (as they should be at that designer price point), second-hand bags should still be in amazing condition and have a lot more life to live!

Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? I don’t necessarily sell old bags to fund new purchases, but I do have a tendency to rid any possessions that i don’t use regularly – clothes, bags and stuff in general. I move around a lot, so I’m really looking to keep my collection extremely minimal and I’m also a serial declutter-er. I’m extremely passionate about sustainability, so over the past year, I’ve taken a hard look at my consumption habits. I’ve managed to limit all my purchases to either secondhand or from brands that have environmentally sustainable practices and I’d like to continue doing so going forward. Before I make a purchase, I ask myself “am I be willing to move this item to my next apartment?” If the answer is no, I won’t purchase it and if the answer is no for an item I already own, I’ll list it up on Poshmark.

I’ve sold three designer bags on Poshmark in the past because I fell out of love with them, and have been lucky to not lose too much money. I sold my Gucci soho disco at a profit because I purchased it in Europe, had only used it a couple of times, and the price increased when I went to sell it. I also recently sold a trendy Prada bag at a profit as well because it was sold out in stores. The other piece was sold at a loss of ~$200. I like to think that each of these bags helped me refine my tastes!

Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? I don’t feel societal pressure to purchase new bags, BUT every once in a while, I’ll see something beautiful on Instagram or Youtube and dwell on it for a few months before deciding whether or not to purchase. I spend a LOT of time researching and thinking through every purchase I make.

Do you consider your bag purchases investments? Financial investment? Absolutely not. In that sense, bags to me are no different than clothes. They are a form of personal expression and I view them as art. I don’t expect to ever be able to recoup the cost. That being said, I do purchase bags that I think I’ll have for the rest of my life; therefore, ridding myself of the unnecessary purchase of lesser quality, trend bags over the years. I try to buy great quality and something I absolutely LOVE so that I can purchase less frequently. It’s better for the environment and sometimes, for my wallet!

Who influences your buying decisions? When I fall in love with a bag, it’s usually because I saw it on an influencer or in an ad campaign and I’ll do TONS of research on it (Youtube, the second-hand market, ask my bag loving friend, etc.). Generally, it’ll be months before I pull the trigger on a purchase.

Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? No, I tend to do my own research, so by the time I visit the boutique or store, I usually know exactly what I want! These days, I’ve been looking more into secondhand, so that eliminates the need for a relationship completely.

Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? I usually shop around for fun, but rarely pull the trigger and purchase unless it’s something I absolutely LOVE.

Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? I can only think of one time. When I went to Paris for the first time, my friend wanted to purchase a Chanel classic flap, so we made Chanel our first boutique destination on our shopping spree. The sales associate was really short with us and told us that everything we wanted was sold out. We thought her attitude was a bit strange, but looking back, I think it’s probably because we were two young asian girls with no designer pieces on us. Either way, after we made a couple of purchases (and had the shopping bags to prove it), we went to another Chanel boutique in Paris and the associates were super kind to us. Luckily, my friend was able to find the bag she was looking for the second time.
The Chanel aesthetic doesn’t fit within my style to begin with, but this experience really solidified that, if you know what I mean 🙂

The Money

Who pays for your bags? I do! Queue Independent Women by Destiny’s Child…”the shoes on my feet, I’ve bought it. the clothes I’m wearing, I’ve bought it. the rock I’m rockin’, I’ve bought it. ‘Cause I depend on me if I want it…ALL THE WOMEN, WHO INDEPENDENT. THROW YOUR HANDS UP AT ME!”

In all seriousness, I have a problem with selling anything I don’t find useful and if someone gifts me an item, I feel a bit more guilt about selling that particular item. SO, I prefer to purchase my own items…then I’m able to sell it, guilt-free, when I no longer need it!

Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? Nope. I’ve become pretty great at saving money over the years and I purchase bags so rarely, that when I do really want something, it’s not usually a financial problem.

The Taboo Topics

Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? Yes. We didn’t have money growing up, so I wasn’t even allowed to TALK about designer items as a child. The idea of spending even $50 on a fashion piece was absurd to my family. When I turned 18, I went to NYC and purchased a counterfeit Coach bag in Chinatown with my own money because that’s all I could afford with my savings. I’ve since given that item to a family friend who also grew up the same way I did! And it goes without saying, but I haven’t purchased counterfeit since then.

Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? No. It’s my money and we’ve been dating for a decade, so he trusts me to be responsible. I’ve actually become the better saver in the relationship!

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? It’s not something I actually went through with, but when I graduated college, I desperately wanted to purchase a designer bag (for all the wrong reasons), so I tried to figure out a way to purchase it with the biggest discount I could find. Between email sign up discounts and credit card points, I tried everything to justify my first purchase. I had the money in the bank to purchase a bag at full price, but was limited by (1) my credit line due to my low paying first job and (2) the hit that my savings would take by purchasing a bag at that time. I ultimately decided to wait because purchasing an item should NOT cause that much financial/emotional strain and I’m so glad I did, because I later had an amazing first designer bag experience in Paris.

Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? I used to be a shopaholic. I’d buy anything I wanted, usually impulsively, and a trip to the mall wasn’t complete without a couple bags of items. I also had packages delivered to my house CONSTANTLY. After college, I started re-selling my items on Poshmark when I realized I had TWO wardrobes of clothes that wouldn’t fit into my one closet (one from college and one at my parent’s house). When I started to move around a lot, the problem became amplified. I was tired of packing up tons of stuff in boxes that I didn’t even use, so I started to adopt more minimalistic practices and habits. I also realized that even if I made a bit of money back from Poshmark, it was better than nothing and I could use that money to fund purchases of items I love instead of having a closet full of mediocre items that I only kind of like.

Nowadays, I really limit my purchases to things I really love and can see myself holding onto for years. When I do manage to find that special piece, it makes me really happy and I treasure it for years to come!

The Rest Of It

Any other expensive hobbies or passions? I love to travel and pre-COVID, my goal was to visit 3 new countries a year. There’s something about wandering around a completely foreign city or untouched piece of nature that feeds my soul. Aside from traveling, I’m also a dancer and the frequent training programs, photoshoots, and videoshoots can get a bit expensive. These two hobbies have helped me grow as a woman and a human, so the expenses (within reason) don’t bother me.

Anything else you would like to include? Fashion is not all or nothing and you don’t have to be dressed in head to toe designer to love fashion. I would consider myself a sustainability-loving minimalist who loves high fashion and expressing myself through my personal style. If you buy smart, you can still express yourself while saving money and not do too much harm on the environment!

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