CC 31: A Gucci-loving Mother and Her Experience With Racial Discrimination In Retail

“People should not judge a book by its cover.”

In today’s installment of the beloved Closet Confessionals we meet a Gucci-obsessed Mom, whose bag collection began with Dooney & Bourke when she was just 14. Though her tastes and brand obsessions have evolved, she’s still brand loyal to her first love, and has as many Dooney bags as she does Gucci! Many of you can likely relate to her experience with poor treatment when shopping at premier designer boutiques as she’s often been the victim of racial discrimination. She wishes that sales associates would’t profile her based on looks. Though her collection comes in at over 50 bags, it was once even bigger! Her attitude towards purchasing her bags is simple, yet important: “no bag, or anything else for that matter, is worth financial instability. So please everyone, enjoy in moderation.” Read the full CC below!

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The Basics

Age: 41
Gender Identity: Female
Location: Oakland / Bay Area, CA
Occupation: Attorney / College Professor – both part time, approx 15 hours per week, Full time mom
Industry: Higher Education / Law / Home
Salary: $50,000
Household Income: $200,000

The Bags

Are you a PurseForum member? Yes (immigraty)

How many bags do you own? 50+ [this is what I tell my Fiancee]

What bags are in your collection? Mostly Gucci, about 80% of my Collection, Dooney & Bourke makes up about 15%, the other 5% are mix of Burberry, Prada, Louis Vuitton and Coach

How much is your collection worth? $40,000

What is your most expensive bag? I have several Gucci Python bags, I believe the most expensive of which is $4,500

What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? I absolutely LOVE Gucci [leather and python/exotic skin, NOT mono] I love Gucci style and selection, you don’t see the same things over and over year after year. They are also high quality bags, especially leather. Also I love Gucci signature hardware [bamboo, stirrup, horsebit] that make Gucci, GUCCI!

My contemporary love is Dooney & Bourke, the craftsmanship is almost unmatched, even among many premiere designers.

What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? I was 14 as a gift I received a Dooney & Bourke leather cross body with the large duck, still one of the faves of my collection. Still have it, still in impeccable condition. Dooney quality is beyond compare.

Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? Dooney, as it’s my first handbag love, and still speaks to my heart, although I’ve moved from pebbled leather to the Alto collection, I absolutely LOVE Dooney & Bourke.

Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? Absolutely they do. I am a Black / African American female, so often times if I walk into a store I’m not greeted and approached as quickly as my white counterparts, if at all.

However if I walk in the store with a Gucci bag, I am greeted quickly, also, my bags always receives many compliments, and of course the question of designer, when I say Gucci I get one of two things, either looked at more favorably because I am able to afford a premiere designer [a large number of them] or more negatively, as if I’m one of “those” girls.


The Shopping

How often do you buy new bags? The frequency with which I purchase handbags depends greatly on what I like. With Gucci for instance, I was a huge Frida fan, not so much with Alessandro. I found myself purchasing 3-4 bags per month [sometimes more] whereas under the new regime, I’ve purchased approximately 3-4 bags total since 2016.

Which stores do you frequent the most? Gucci Boutique and Outlet stores and Bloomies are the stores I will make specific plans to visit, any other store is out of convenience.

Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? I have purchased second hand bags, mostly older bags that are no longer sold in stores. I have gone to high end consignment shops, or rarely on websites.

Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? When I decided to scale back my handbag collection [which was once 3+ times bigger than what it is now] I sold many bags, not necessarily to purchase new bags [which I ended up doing] but to get rid of them and get a little pocket change at the same time. I sold them on eBay, Poshmark, and Mercari.

Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? Never. Society does not fund my handbag purchases, so it therefore has no bearing on my decision to make said purchases.

Do you consider your bag purchases investments? No, they are not investments. I buy them because I like them and want them, not for some financial return in the future.

Who influences your buying decisions? Myself. I buy what I like, and wear what I like.

Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? No. In the past they have been, but more recently I do not purchase nearly enough handbags to warrant having an SA I contact regularly.

Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? I love beautiful things. I love to have the perfect handbag to compliment my outfit etc.

Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? Absolutely, as previously stated, I am a Black / African American female. And often times I am not the client who is “rushed” when I come into the door.

I also ride motorcycles [crotch rockets] so I have shopped for bags with my backpack, du-rag, and riding gear on. I will often have to visit 3-4 stores before someone is willing to help me. And I ensure those are times where I have at least two purchases [preferably more] to make, so that SA gets a grand commission. People should not judge a book by its cover.

I have a Platinum AmEx with no pre-set spending limit, and I’m not afraid to use it.

The Money

Who pays for your bags? My fiancee and I pool our resources, it’s all “our” money. So I will have to say both of us. Prior to us being together, purchased my own, or received them as gifts.

Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? No budget necessary. By the grace of God I’m able to afford my handbags, we have good savings, and retirement and investment accounts. Not to mention I don’t shop with the great frequency I once did. However; once I make the decision to pull the trigger on this Hermes Birkin 40 cm Himalayan Croco bag, I will be saving for several years though, lol.


The Taboo Topics

Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? NEVER. I don’t support fakes. It’s better to get pre-owned if you want a lesser price. PLUS, fakes are still kind of expensive, at least too expensive to have it disintegrate when you carry it in the rain. In addition, the proceeds from fakes often fund undesirable activities such as human trafficking, terrorist activities etc.

Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? No, he knows what I buy, we discuss it before I purchase. He still can’t wrap his mind around the cost, but the agreement is, he says nothing about my bags, I say nothing about his very expensive habit of restoring classic cars.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? Nothing crazy.

Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? Never. I love getting a good deal though, but no bag, or anything else for that matter, is worth financial instability. So please everyone, enjoy in moderation. It’s hard to enjoy your bags if you get kicked out because you can’t pay your rent/mortgage, phone/lights are cut off, or bill collectors won’t stop calling.

The Rest Of It

Any other expensive hobbies or passions? I love to travel. We travel often, but also enjoy just being together with our 2.5 year old son and 1 year old English Bulldog.

Anything else you would like to include? I love the PurseForum, good to find a community of people as obsessed with bags as I am.