This week, we continue our tour through the Commonwealth and meet this 34 year-old Canadian Business Analyst from Alberta. Her take on bag shopping differs from most of our previous confessionals in that she exclusively shops for pre-loved & pre-owned bags online, mainly due to looking to avoid uncomfortable interactions in real life retail.
Enjoy this week’s installment and please take a few minutes to reflect upon your own spending habits and fill out the CC questionnaire below:
Gender Identity: Female
Location: Alberta, Canada
Occupation: Business Analyst
Household Income: $150,000
Are you a PurseForum member? Yes
How many bags do you own? 20-25
What bags are in your collection? Once I find a style I like, I stick with it so I have multiple colors of the same bags – Balenciaga City, PS1 Medium and Tiny, Chloe Marcie, Chloe Drew and my one beloved Sac de Jour nano plus contemporary bags from Rebecca Minkoff and Coach.
How much is your collection worth? ~30k
What is your most expensive bag? Technically my Teal PS1 because it’s the only one I purchased brand new, but based on retail price the Sac de Jour.
What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? I don’t consider any of them “important”. They are things I own because I enjoy them.
What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? 28. It was a pre-loved jungle green suede PS1 Tote. I had been interested in designer bags for a long while before then but was never in a financial position to make it work.
Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? My Bal city in Bleu Opaline because its the bag I carried most when I was pregnant with my daughter, and every time I see it I am reminded of her.
Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? Not really, because where I live, no one I know is interested in high end bags. When I’m out and about no one says anything (although that might be some Canadian politeness at work, since I’ve noticed fancy bags out in the wild and refrained from commenting). I’ve never noticed any different treatment but I exclusively shop online so high end stores are not somewhere I frequent. (Although I will say that I choose to shop online specifically because I am afraid of being treated poorly/like I don’t belong in a high end store, since my daily clothing and shoes come from “regular” stores) No one in my work office recognizes my bags or is aware of the cost of them, and I don’t talk about it. I never tell my close friends how much I spend on my bags because I know some of them are in less financially well-off positions than I am, and it seems disrespectful. My bag-loving friends I share purchase excitement with are all online.
How often do you buy new bags? Randomly when the urge strikes. Sometimes I will buy none in a year, sometimes 2 or 3 depending on if I’m celebrating or commiserating something or had an unexpected influx of extra money.
Which stores do you frequent the most? Holt Renfrew, but only for window shopping/taking notes on what I might like to look for – never for actual purchasing.
Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? Always, exclusively. With the exception of one purchase that was bought brand new, on sale from the designer’s website (and the contemporary bags I own), every designer bag was pre-loved. I usually purchase from Fashionphile. For me, as much as I love designer bags, I just cannot justify the expense of brand new ones when I can get ones in almost-brand-new condition for a far lower price. It feels like the best of both worlds to me, and it’s not important enough to me for my bags to feel “current” or “in season”. I buy bags that I know are functionally useful for my lifestyle, in colors and styles I love (and that go with my wardrobe) and what I would consider timeless enough to never be out of season or look dated.
Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? Never. I’m selective with what I choose to buy, so if I purchase something I don’t like or can tell will not work for my life, I return it immediately instead of holding onto it and trying to sell it later. I’m also extremely hard on my bags since I don’t believe in babying them (and its hard to do so in Canadian weather) so by the time I’m done with a bag, its not really in “sellable” condition anyway.
Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? Not in “real” life but I’ve certainly noticed becoming more influenced by social media – seeing pictures of perfect outfits with perfect shoes and bags makes me want those things too.
Do you consider your bag purchases investments? No. I consider them money I worked hard to earn well spent on a hobby I get great enjoyment out of. Since I buy all my bags pre-loved and have no intentions of selling them on I try not to use “investment” as a reason to justify a purchase I probably can’t afford.
Who influences your buying decisions? I choose not to follow influencers on social media as it works out better for my mental health. Mostly my inspiration comes from websites like this one or street pictures of celebrities I see online. If I see something in a picture I like that strikes me (there was a picture recently of Molly Sims carrying a Celine Gourmette bag that I immediately went to try to find.), I will “add to cart” but will usually sit on it for a week or so just to see if the initial “I must have this right away” feeling goes away or if I still want it just as badly. I have found if I don’t force myself to wait until I am sure, buyer’s remorse hits and more often than not the item ends up being returned.
Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? Not at all.
Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? I love the anticipation of tracking and waiting for a package. I love the feeling of putting all my things into a brand new-to-me bag and getting ready to carry it out for the first time, of planning outfits that will match it or show it off the best. I feel comfortable, and more confident with a designer bag, like its my own personal measure of success. It also makes me feel good to shop, and know that I can afford to shop, as it’s a reminder of how far I have come from my earlier years when luxury shopping, or buying anything that wasn’t a necessity was not an option for me.
Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? No, because I deliberately avoid that situation. I have pretty low self esteem and a bit of an inferiority complex. I would probably perceive that treatment even if it wasn’t happening so I just prefer not to deal with people and buy my bags online in peace.
Who pays for your bags? I do. (I guess technically my husband does too since all of our finances are joined.) He isn’t interested at all in having any input into me choosing a new bag, and I am totally fine with that as I get my own personal, private enjoyment out of purchasing. When a new one arrives, I usually just get an …”If you’re happy with it then great” comment. He’s never, ever disparaging about my love of bags even though he clearly doesn’t get why it’s interesting to me but it also means I’ve pretty much given up on ever coming home to a birthday or an anniversary surprise of a perfect, gifted bag.
Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? Not for bags specifically, but my husband and I both have a “discretionary” spending account each. A certain amount of money goes into it every month, and it’s up to us individually to choose whether to save it up for something big, or purchase little things outside of our regular budget.
We get to spend that money on whatever we want, and the other is not allowed to say anything about it. (My husband thinks it’s absolutely ridiculous the amount of money I choose to spend on bags but is also respectful that it’s my choice to do with the money we have earned, just like I think the amount of money he spends on fancy wine and tools is silly, but it’s what he enjoys so I’m happy to let him indulge).
We have our entire earnings budgeted on a sheet every month to make sure all the appropriate amounts are first set aside to cover the mortgage, bills, groceries, emergency fund, our daughter’s education fund and our savings and investment portfolio, then anything left is ours to do with as we choose.
The Taboo Topics
Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? Once and only once.
When I was a very fresh young bag lover. I wanted to have the experience of a designer bag, and there was no way I was ever going to be able to afford a real one. I hadn’t really gotten into reading about the industry enough at that point to understand why it was a terrible idea. When the bag arrived, even though I liked it, I felt self-conscious about carrying it, like everyone would know it was a fake and would judge me for trying to pretend to be something I wasn’t. I didn’t use it for very long, and decided it was not worth it for me personally to do again, especially once I started reading up more about the nature of counterfeiting and its negative effects.
Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? Occasionally I will, if I want a bag badly enough. Since I mostly shop pre-owned, the bags come in one-at-a-time. If I don’t have enough saved in the discretionary budget but I know I might not get a chance to buy the bag in that size or color again, I will put the extra amount on a credit card that isn’t attached to our joint account then pretend the bag cost less than it actually did, and pay off the extra later. I do feel guilty about it but I figure it’s not too bad as long as I’m not spending money we definitely can’t afford and he wouldn’t know the difference between a Balenciaga and a Botkier anyway.
Every lady has to have a few secrets.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? Spending such a large amount of money on one item just for me will never not seem a little crazy to me in itself, since it was barely conceivable that I would ever have that option during my younger years. Nothing *actually* crazy though.
Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? Not really, since we budget very carefully and try not to purchase things we cannot outright pay for. I find shopping to be stress relieving and relaxing for me (provided I get to do it alone) so sometimes if I ever get the urge to just wander mindlessly and spend money on useless things, I go to Dollar Tree – far less dangerous on the bank account!
The Rest Of It
Any other expensive hobbies or passions? A mild obsession with stationery (like bags, you can never own too many notebooks) but thankfully nothing that makes a significant dent in the bag budget!
Anything else you would like to include? Writing this out was actually very cathartic, and I hope it offered a slightly different viewpoint that maybe others can relate to.