when vintage is better than new

[vintage bags from top right 1, 9. Coach; 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8. Dooney & Bourke; 7. Prada clutch]

When it comes to big name designer bags, vintage is better than new.  

As you might know, I’m trying to buy less leather and buy leather secondhand when I can.  I was in need of a small crossbody bag to carry my giant phone and pager while at work, searched for one at Poshmark, and was just blown away–99.99% deserve a big thumbs down 👎🏼 .  There were a few quality bags in the mix — all vintage .  It turns out the internet is full of affordable vintage designer bags in excellent condition and most are made in America and go for under $100.  I’ve included some of my favorites above.  Dooney & Bourke and Coach were the most common bags on sale.  Of course, I ended up purchasing the tiny minimalist black crossbody that’s just barely big enough to hold my iPhone 6+ (top right).  I like the ultra thin strap, sleek design and low profile side pocket where I can store my notes.

Most designer bags nowadays are straight-up ugly.  Why all the embellishments?  Why all the heavy-handed branding?  Brands like Louie Vuitton, Prada, Coach, Michael Kors, Hermes sell bags for an arm and a leg but don’t deliver on classic stunning designs anymore.  Here’s a screenshot  from the Coach online store to illustrate my point:

new coach bags ugly.png new coach uglyy.png

What a mess, right?  I’m not the only one who’s noticed.  Someone at HuffPo wrote about this a while ago. $1,900 for a bag that will snag on everything and fall apart in no time!?  These designs reek of desperation in a declining market (millennial women just aren’t buying expensive bags like their mothers’ generation anymore).  The best new bags are coming from young labels like APC, Rachel Comey, and Building Block to name a few; they’re creating new classics that range between $200-800 (still a big investment, but not anywhere near the insane price tags of older brands).

A lot of times, bags are used simply as status symbols.  You have these wealthy women in the upper east side with $30,000 handbags that are ugly AF.  These women are wealthy and despite this, they manage to still look basic with those uninspiring bags.  My snarky side can’t help but think:  sure, money can buy you a Birkin bag, but it can’t buy you taste.  There are plenty of beautiful ultra-expensive bags out there though, but even if I could afford one, I think I’d feel too uncomfortable carrying it.

What about you? What do you think of mainstream designer bags?  And what things do you prefer to buy vintage?

6 thoughts on “when vintage is better than new

  1. With mainstream designer bags, i dont think price matches the quality. Considering the good ones I can get in the price range you talk about. But the demand curve still dictates the prices for the likes of Hermes and Chanel. They have a market and seem to be doing good for now.

    I am for the mid-priced craftsman and heritage leather goods makers. Campomaggi is my favorite. I buy most of mine second hand. I used to be a vegan and I carry the guilt of using leather.

    Vintage coach was a class of its own. It got popular and started churning out the monogram crap. Same with most brands.

    Have you heard of the 3-tier model ? The lowest is the identifiable stuff that is catered to mass market with lot of profit margin. The mid tier is the reasonable quality and higer price point. The top tier is the boutique/collection stuff that is still exclusive. They have their best designers and auction for perfect leather hides to hand make the bags. This sort of thing is very evident at Kors. His collection bags are works of art. His MK monogram line is tacky and made to sell fast.

    There is a book called Deluxe. It talks about the marketing behind the brands and the handbag industry. Think you might find it interesting to read.

    – Archana.
    p.s : sat down last weekend and read your blog cover to cover.


    1. I wonder if any of the designers actually find the monogram crap aesthetically appealing… I haven’t heard of the 3 tier model but suspected as much. I haven’t read Deluxe but you’re right, it looks like something I would like… I’ll add it to my list. Thanks Archana!


  2. Some of the classic Coach designs are the perfect bags, in my eyes. I don’t like everything they’ve made but some of those very basic, simple styles, the turnlock, I love those. I think I could limit myself to only wearing vintage Coach and I’d probably be happy, although I love bags and keep buying many that leave a lot to be desired. I went on a short weekend trip with the family last week and I felt like I hated all my (around 25) bags. The feeling lingers. The bag I ended up taking worked fine but the pony hair side snagged my clothes. Now I’m rethinking my bag collection and I might get rid of half of it. I am very moody about my bags but this is ridiculous.
    And yes, all I want now is the simplest of bags, with minimal to no hardware (for reduced weight) and thick beautiful leather. I follow the Purseblog and I don’t understand 90% of the bags celebrities are wearing these days.


    1. I never heard of the purse blog.. interesting. I think bags are some of the hardest purchases to resist. I’m still dying to get one from Building Block but must refrain. LMK what you ultimately decide on your bag collection. Thanks for stopping by .


  3. That’s why I’m annoyed when articles about why “fast fashion is bad” target lower middle income consumers. Because if we can’t get people who buy $1000 bags to pay for transparency, craftspeople’s fair wages, sustainably sourced material, etc. why are we going after some service economy worker buying a $15 blouse at H&M?

    I got a D&B bag for free at a clothing swap and it’s better than anything I could find on the market right now. I think once I have some more disposable income I’ll have a bag custom made by a local leather craftsperson or take the bag making class at the leather school here in Chicago.


    1. Bag sales are declining so maybe the designers will shape up and become more transparent?.. progress takes time.. but who knows.. maybe nothing will change.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s