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Calling all bag lovers

(12 Posts)
Dulcimena Mon 23-Jan-17 12:26:44

I've been wanting to ask this for a while but as there a few bag threads it seems like a good time.

I have the means to buy a nice bag, I'm in the market for one and I have a shortlist. The thing that's holding me back is the feeling that I just don't know enough about bags to make a good decision. Eg leathers. What are the nicest or most durable finishes (there seem to be so many!) or is just about aesthetics? I keep seeing "vegetable tanned leather", which apparently will scratch but age beautifully (really?). I am veering towards black but might navy or grey actually be more versatile? What about sizes, pockets, fastenings - anything that seems like a good idea but practically is not? At the grand old age of 40 I feel completely ignorant about naice bags and don't want to make a mistake.

Basically, what do you look for or avoid, and why? What should I pay attention to? ...I appreciate that I may be overthinking this.

Cheesymonster Mon 23-Jan-17 12:44:05

Have a look on purseforum.com - lots of threads devoted to handbags and divided into the brand names (mostly high end but some others too). You will be able to get some advice on leather, hardware etc.

I look for bags that are easy to carry whilst I'm with my 4yo DD and for me that means a long strap that I can wear cross body when I'm holding her hand. I also like either a shorter shoulder strap (so it sits just under my arm) or grab handles so I have the option to hook it over my arm. I like an external pocket for my keys, lip balm and phone and I dislike plastic zips but that is just personal preference! I prefer black but maybe tan for summer - goes with everything.

I have a Mulberry that is natural vegetable tanned leather and it is hard wearing - the bag is 10 years old and does not look it at all. Softer leather eg lamb skin would scratch easily and you'd need to baby it if you want it to look good for a long time.

Are you looking for an everyday bag or an occasion bag? What's on your shortlist?

Dulcimena Mon 23-Jan-17 13:24:10

That's helpful, thanks - I'll take a look on purseforum.

I want one for everyday essentials really, just wallet, keys, lipstick etc - not a lot of stuff. I would like something smart enough for work but not so much so that it would look out of place at weekends. Minimal hardware, interesting but not in your face. Something quiet but not boring if that makes sense?!

The ones I have been looking at are:
PB 0110 AB21 - probably in black but possibly navy
PB 0110 AB38 in black - will circle bags date dreadfully though? This one looks so clean.
APC half moon - I like the shape but it's slightly bigger than I had in mind
Victoria Beckham half moon bag - the APC upside down but 2x the price and apparently quite heavy?
Proenza Schouler PS1 mini - bit boring?

I do like the Marni mini trunk too but haven't seen one in all black.

Thoughts and suggestions are very welcome.

botemp Mon 23-Jan-17 13:39:49

Yes, the purseforum is a great resource but you do have to know what you're looking for at the risk of becoming overwhelmed.

Veg tanned leather has its plusses and its minuses like most leathers. The generic tanned leathers prominently used by the fashion industry use quite toxic chemicals that can continue to affect end user and most definitely affect the health and environment of the tanners. When this is done in low wage countries you may be paying less for a bag but it's coming at the expense of others. Veg tanned leather looks a bit more 'organic', colour is less uniform and it ages with a quite old-fashioned patina and loses its shape somewhat. This bag is designed with that aging in mind, if you scroll through you see the effect of age.

Some say it's always a by-product of the meat industry as an aminal has needed to live a good life (marks, etc. will show up more prominently) but I'm not a 100% on that claim. It has its limitations, colour is less uniform, certainly more rustic stiff shapes (initially).

I prefer the look of smooth calves leather but slightly textured lamb's leather is more durable so for an everyday bag I'd be more inclined to look at one over the other. It's quite personal what you respond to, in all honesty, I don't really get the appeal of exotic leathers but some go insane over them. In general the smoother and the thinner the leather, the more likely it is to mark (though there are some exceptions) and the more babying it requires.

Basic guidelines if you're preparing to spend a bit more:

-Manufactured in the EU if you can afford it, it's rarely acknowledged where the leather is sourced from but preferably that from the EU too to ensure good working conditions and environmental responsibility and in part acknowledge the premium you're paying is going towards fair labour. Preferred countries of manufacture for high end; France and Italy, Spain and Portugal are good for veg tanned, though each country will have its specialist manufacturers.

-You'll get more bang for your buck with emerging designers who chiefly sell online or in a single storefront than the big name brands but the big name brands will most likely offer a better lifetime of service.

-Check the zippers and reference them online, there's a huge discrepancy in quality with these and it'll be the thing that falters first with a high quality bag, ditto the seams and stitching.

-Avoid entry level and diffusion designer brands, (think mostly the American designers but a brand like Furla falls in here for me too, lovely bags but the price doesn't hold up as it once used to) at this level you're not getting better quality.

-Look on Vestiaire Collective for the bag you're intending to buy, not so much to buy second hand (though of course, you can) but to see how it ages.

I don't think it's a bad thing to overthink, definitely inform yourself but when it comes to paying more for a highly priced bag it often is an emotion driven thing. So touching, handling and walking around a store with it much to the irritation of impatient sales assistants is part of the search. If in doubt, take a picture, leave it to rest for a bit, unless it's a hot item 'it' bag they rarely fly off the shelves.

Dulcimena Mon 23-Jan-17 14:22:22

Great and comprehensive advice bo, appreciated! Lots to think about there. I'm quite keen to have something that isn't instantly recognisable, so emerging designers sound good - are there any that you rec particularly? Any thoughts on my shortlist? I had a look on purseforum and you're right, it is a bit overwhelming - I have much respect for the knowledge there though.

botemp Mon 23-Jan-17 17:40:05

Eh sorry, bags make me wordy blush

Yes purseforum is extremely helpful and knowledgeable and I kind of use them as a resource for that, but if you're just looking for inspiration what to buy it's a harder fit.

Forgot to mention above,

-WRT lining, I personally hate unlined bags, they're a PITA to get clean properly and I just like a lining. Synthetic lining usually = cheaper, but it's the most hard-wearing and easiest to keep clean. I like a nice thick well woven cotton. You'll be hard pressed to find a good lining in those stiffer shapes though. Sometimes they're double backed leather, like Mansur Gavriel which is an improvement on suede interiors.

-Saffiano leather, it's the very fine textured miniscule cross hatch type that almost looks 'laminated' up close. It's the most hard wearing of the lot, highly stain and scratch resistant, can handle a bit of rain, etc. I'm personally not a fan of the look (it dulls the leather's natural sheen somewhat and feels a little business like) but if you need something that can handle abuse and stand the test of time that's the one to look out for.

-Eco or vegan leather is a really 'nice' name for PU. I have a really tough time paying premium prices for this but if it suits your ethics, be my guest.

-If you can, avoid black. Black is very boring and hides a lot of sins, if you're paying a bit more for a love of design it's worth venturing into other colours to make it shine a bit more, especially if you already wear a lot of black or dark colours. Navy is often a lot more exciting (especially in a brand like Marni) but tan, oxtail, olive, and a good gray all make for good versatile neutrals with a bit more added interest than black.

Ok, deducing from your picks, the ps1 is a bit of the odd one out (and I agree it's a bit boring and also a tad dated being a former it bag) it's mostly structural/minimal/geometric which is very current now. I'm not sure how long that will last tbh and I'd be inclined to spend a little bit less on one like the APC rather than VB. I'm desperate to get back to the slouchier aesthetics and less of all the chains and blingey hardware but that's just me as I look quite classic already and structured stiff bags emphasise that too much so I may be a poor judge on the trend's longevity with my wishful thinking. If it's a silhouette that suits you well and will happily carry over the next few years/decades than it's probably worth getting the nicest quality one you can find.

Emerging or less known designers to look at:

Building Block - American, architectural, geometric/minimal, difficult to source in a wide selection in the EU though.

Vanessa Seward - APC's premium brand, supposedly a bit more grown up confused and slightly more classical. Sometimes there's a really nice bag in the mix but it's a limited selection usually. Also, check the APC site, they do plenty of other nice bag silhouettes that are worth a look beyond the demi-lune, including a reverse version of it like the VB.

Céline Lefébure - sits somewhere between APC and Mansur Graviel style wise, classic shapes but not distinctly old fashioned. Think Parisian staple with somewhat reasonable pricing.

desa nineteenseventytwo - Italian, highly crafted, minimal with a nod to classical silhouettes in a very contemporary way but collections vary from season to season as do the prices online (v. affordable with yoox but limited selection).

M2Malletier - Spanish, very small curated collection, more angular with precision hardware, you like it or you don't pretty much.

Yvonne Kone - Danish, more on the slouchier end but gorgeous quality (mostly buffalo leather which is very hard wearing and all handmade in Italy). The pumps are worth buying coveting too.

This article has a few great under the radar brands compiled too.

I've also semi-recently gotten sucked into tictail which is sort of a Scandi based insta/etsy mashup with a lot of independent labels. Generally a lot more affordable but have yet to buy anything from there. It's a lot easier to wade through than etsy though. It's an app but has an easy to navigate web interface too and most shops use the interface as their public webshop. Bag brands I've discovered on there so far and like the look of:

Kles (UK based)
Peet Dullaert (Netherlands)
Kuula + Jylhä (Finland)
MYR (Sweden) <-- they have a lot of demi-lune like silhouettes, albeit slightly sharper in feel
Jennie Ellen (Sweden) - they only do one bag but it's a Celine like minimal crossbody silhouette and quite a nice one
Hieleven (United States) - very affordable, reminiscent of Mansur Gavriel
Apipi Leather (United States) - again quite affordable but you have to wade through their assortment to find the few gems

Like with etsy shipping costs and availability varies according to location. Far more great things on there beyond bags...

Where are you currently capping your budget? I very much like Marni, and despite my protestations above about chains and dark colours I'm very much enamoured by this Marni bag currently, though I like it in yellow too shock, also like the mini trunk in red (I like a red more for A/W but can still be pulled off with navy and white come summer time, it's spring where it's odd). Also, the APC DL is a bit annoying to get things in and out of, so definitely road test it if you're interested in that one (and should do so anyhow with more compact bags).

Dulcimena Mon 23-Jan-17 19:55:31

Agree on unlined, non-leather and saffiano. Black definitely feels safer, although navy or grey would work - grey probably more so but I suspect navy would be wiser, depending on the grey. I wear a lot of olive so that would be ok too. I actively dislike chains, so the Marni you posted is lovely but for the strap. This one although a bit smaller has the yellow, the grey and a proper leather strap grin. Will check through the links - many thanks for posting them up, I've not heard of most of them! - especially the tictail, which looks interesting. I did take a look on etsy but gave up tbh.

Good to know about the APC being awkward. I'd actually read something similar and looking at pics I couldn't see how/if it opened fully, so that's written off then I think. It appears that their similarly formed models all have the same opening, which is a shame because the Andrea looked nice too.

I haven't really identified a cap, it's more about whether it checks all my boxes and I can justify it to myself, but I haven't really found anything I love beyond the Marni mini trunk and even that wasn't quite right. Goldilocks, me wink

I'll be honest, I keep coming back to the PB0110 AB21, which probably says something, but I can't find much about the brand. There's a light grey one on Ssense, but maybe too light to be that useful, which takes me back to black or navy...

botemp Mon 23-Jan-17 20:30:18

etsy is all woods no trees these days, it's too much and too difficult to search.

PB0110 are very nice, he's the heir to the Bree brand so he does know what he's doing just taking his gran's bags for a more modern spin. Light bags are lovely but less versatile and prone to staining and dependant on how the leather is dyed prone to the colour rubbing off. You can buy directly from PB0110, there's two AB21s in the sale, salmon/white and lavender at 50% off, probably not your colours but he has like 8 others. I kind of like the espresso too which is sort of a near black brown, that or the navy would be my choice if you're sticking to familiar colours. I think it feels too basic in black.

I like the trunk mini (even in yellow shock)and hate chains too (wildly uncomfortable and if I wanted a Chanel bag, I'd look at a bloody ugly Chanel bag) but it's in Saffiano leather, as is the red leather one I'd instantly fallen for over on farfetch sad.

Dulcimena Tue 24-Jan-17 11:34:48

Well, bo, you really have set the cat among the pigeons now! The MYR Frida bag is just beautiful. On tictail, is there a way of leaving reviews for sellers? I can't see anything and it would be good to know if their customers are happy. I know it's got the whole current geometric current thing going on, but that's quite a classic shape really, something quite '50s about it I think.

And I may have ordered a mini bucket from Yvonne Kone (in the sale!). Very different to what I have been looking at but it reminded me of a cheap PU one a few years ago that got trashed.

I had seen the sale stuff on PB0110's website, but you're right the AB21 colours weren't right for me. The cork (non-sale) looks nice for a neutralish shade, not sure how pink it might be in person though...

botemp Tue 24-Jan-17 21:51:38

You went for it with Yvonne grin. Exactly how much have I enabled now? Her bucket bags are very nice and a nice size but you should have bought some shoes too and the Yvonne Konne boutique is definitely worth a visit if you're ever in Copenhagen.

I really like the MYR Frida too, I think it rises above the more straightforward geometric shapes and will have more longevity than those. It's a good take on a classic without feeling of a certain era. It actually works quite well for a black bag on black clothing which is a hard thing to achieve without a lot of hardware and such a minimalist shape. I'm not sure on the seller feedback, they do have the in app chat function to make reaching out to them easier and I assume there is some form of protection through buying through tictail? I'd definitely contact them as it's a made to order product so returns policy would have to be quite specific, especially if they customise it for you for example, and I'd definitely ask for some interior shots. There do seem to be some press articles and physical retailers if you look on their About page.

Whatthefoxgoingon Tue 24-Jan-17 23:10:43

Bloody hell botemp, you're a regular font of knowledge on bags!

I'm checking out the under the radar stuff...

Dulcimena Wed 25-Jan-17 09:29:26

LOL! The mini bucket is I hope a useful stopgap while I mull over the Frida a bit more wink. The small bag that I use all.the.time really needs to be replaced before the strap goes, which looks as though it'll be any day now - hopefully the yvonne will arrive first. Planning to be in Copenhagen later this year so will def check out the shop then, good tip.

I've gone through every MYR link I can find but most seem to be PR driven rather than actual reviews, which worries me slightly. It looks as though the brand was taken up but dropped by a few US retailers - whether that was due to sales or supply issues (she appears to make each bag herself by hand shock) I have no idea though. ITA about interior shots, I've trawled her insta but found nothing, I think they're unlined. Will message her and see what she comes back with.

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