These days, a lot of thought goes into purchasing a handbag because prices have been increasing exponentially. Bags from designer brands like Chanel, Hermés, and Louis Vuitton have experienced valuation jumps in the resale market in the last decade, prompting many auction houses to open a department exclusively to sell them. It is official. Designer bags have joined the investment echelons of high jewellery, fine wristwatches, and art.
Each bag lover’s “investment” objectives differ. And though there are financial benefits to buying the right designer bag (especially one that’s currently in-demand), I believe there are equally important factors to consider before making your purchase. After all, if you are spending your hard-earned money on a bag regardless of its brand, you should already consider it an investment, resale profit notwithstanding.
Quality and Craftsmanship
This is the first and most important criteria on my list. When I am looking to buy a new bag, I make sure to check its quality first. If the bag design looks great but craftsmanship is not up to my standard, I hold off on the purchase. It should not be the big-budget marketing campaigns of brands or the high praises sung by influencers and esteemed members of the fashion community that convince you the bag is worth buying. The quality of the raw materials used (leather or fabric, thread, zippers and other hardware), right down to how the bag is constructed (cutting, stitching, edge-dyeing, finishing) should matter most. It does not ring true that the more expensive a bag is, the more stellar its quality. So always inspect the bag carefully first before handing over your money. Remember, the hallmark of a great bag lies not in its brand or how popular and expensive it is but in how well it is made.
Colours that we love on their own don’t necessarily translate well on bags. I know many who say that colour is the deal clincher when it comes to their final decision. But tell me, who hasn’t made an impulsive purchase because the bag we were interested in came in a colour we love? Reality only hits after we’ve already bought the bag – when we want to carry the new bag but we end up not doing so because it doesn’t seem to go with the clothes we have. Before you know it, that “new” bag ages and all it would have seen are the dark corners of your closet! So, this is a very helpful rule to follow – go through your wardrobe and identify the dominant colours. From there, you can decide on which bag colours will work best with the pieces you have in your closet. If you find that you have a predilection for neutral shades, a colourful bag might not be something you’d carry often. But if you love colour and prints and are unafraid to wear them, a vibrant new bag will most certainly be a nice addition.
Versatility and Function
In recent years, it has become increasingly hard to find hand-held bags without a detachable shoulder strap, a once-extra feature which has since become a staple. A bag should look good in your eyes for you to want it, sure. But you also don’t want to be burdened or inconvenienced by it because your bag, though pretty, is heavy and can’t be carried on your shoulder to leave your hands free. I reckon this is why the Hermes Kelly is now more coveted than the Birkin — the former has a detachable long strap that allows for more carrying versatility. Because multitasking has become the norm in our lives today, choosing a bag that can also be worn either shoulder or cross-body style is essential. “Transformer” bags have become popular of late, pieces that present you with more than one way to carry them either through a strap change or strap removal. Bags that are versatile and can be carried from day to night, from casual to formal, are definitely worth the money spent. Imagine getting three (or more) carrying styles for the price of one bag. Now that’s a definitely a good deal!
Style and Design
Style and design go hand in hand. Popular bag styles include the basic but useful shopping tote, the classic flap saddle, the top handle satchel, the hobo, and the zipped pochette clutch among others. Knowing your daily lifestyle is the best way to determine which bag styles are most suitable for you. In terms of design, your “investment” bag should ideally be classic and timeless for wearable longevity. Do spend on a bag design that transcends trends. Bold design elements on a bag like feathers, embroidery and beadwork, brass grommets or studs may be cool and on-trend for a time, but will also become dated. If you have always bought bags with the intention of carrying them for years to come, it is prudent to go with a sleeker, cleaner design devoid of design accoutrements that might age the bag.
The size of the bag you’ll buy is of equal importance. Once upon a time (think 8-10 years ago), large bags ruled the roost. The jumbo Chanel Classic Flap was all the rage. The Hermes Birkin and Kelly in 35cm sizes were the most desired. And the original Celine Mini Luggage Tote (which was anything but mini in size) was very popular and not even considered heavy. But in recent years, a size shift happened. Bag lovers have taken to purchasing mini or micro-sized bags, and this trend still shows no sign of abating anytime soon. Jacquemus’ palm-sized Le Chiquito bag became a hot seller even if it really didn’t fit much except for a small pack of mints, a credit card or two, car keys, and maybe a tube of lipstick. Personally, I think it is wise not to impulsively buy into this trend, especially if the bag you are eyeing is expensive. It is best to identify your daily lifestyle constants to establish the right bag size for you. Do you carry a big wallet or a small card case? Do you need to keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer on you? Do you attend work or social functions? These are all questions you might want to ask yourself before you pick the size of the bag you’ll buy.
When you’re making an investment in the form of a bag, you ideally want to buy it to use it for the long haul, not to store in your closet or just to flip it for profit. Don’t buy the bag just because the fashion community deems it a highly desirable piece. Do buy the bag because you genuinely like it, regardless of its brand. Investing in a bag means picking out the piece that you love enough to carry often. A good investment bag is a well-made one that has been lovingly carried and enjoyed.