CC 36: This Young NYC Music Director’s Thrifty Approach To A Big Bag Collection

“Pre-loved” is key.

Today’s closet confessional comes at you from the Big Apple, where our young confessant works as a director in the music industry. While having a large collection of 50+ bags, it is clear that she does not chase the big ticket items, nor the thrills of retail shopping, as all of her purchases are exclusively made after studiously researching pre-owned bag shops and finding a good deal. Instead, she chooses to actively spend her discretionary income on social experiences and travel.

Enjoy this week’s installment and as always, we encourage you to exercise a little self-reflection and submit a confessional of your own at the link below.

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The Basics

Age: 24
Gender Identity: Female
Location: New York City
Occupation: Director
Industry: Music
Salary: $100,000
Household Income: $100,000

The Bags

Are you a PurseForum member? Yes

How many bags do you own? 53

What bags are in your collection?

9 premier bags
30 contemporary
6 vintage/no-name
8 canvas totes/beach bags/travel bags

How much is your collection worth? I was gifted several bags throughout my life from family and friends. I shop pre-loved and on sale and have never spent more than $900 on a bag (even the premier ones). The total I have spent on my current collection is about $6,200, not counting the gifts. The actual value of the bags is higher!

What is your most expensive bag? My Chloe Faye. I bought it pre-loved for ~$860. I had been saving up to travel and shop but the plans fell through so I just spent the shopping money at Fashionphile 😀

What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? Anything gifted. I can’t let go of them.

What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? Around 12, my fashion-loving mom got me one of those patchwork Coach pochettes. I did not care about bags then and was so disappointed she hadn’t gotten me a doll or something haha!

Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? Again, anything by my parents or my boyfriend.

Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? Definitely! I feel like I can’t shop in Soho or Madison/5th unless I’m carrying a nice bag. Maybe it’s also because I’m young.

The Shopping

How often do you buy new bags? For a while, once a month. I’m very happy with my collection now and I guess I’m growing up, because now I want to spend my money on other things like travel.

Which stores do you frequent the most? eBay 😀 I love being able to thrift online. As much as I like to snag a deal, NYC thrift stores are so hectic, and if they’re pleasant to shop in, they’re overpriced.

Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? Most of my own purchases have been secondhand! I like Fashionphile, The RealReal, Yoogi’s Closet. I prefer to buy clothes on eBay rather than high value bags.

Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? I sold off some mistake bags and used that money to turn them around for something I actually want. I’ve also gotten my mom into selling! eBay has been my main source of success, and somewhat on Poshmark.

Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? Nah. I’ve learned from my mistakes as a fresh grad to not buy something just because it’s on sale. I really sit with my purchases because living in this city, there’s not much spare fun money to go around!

Do you consider your bag purchases investments? Definitely not. I don’t own any Chanel or Hermès. Just the fact that I’ve been able to buy premier designer bags for less than $900 shows that! The investment is in how stylish and confident the bags make me feel.

Who influences your buying decisions? I usually ask my BFF, my boyfriend, or my mom what they think. They help bring me back down to earth because I love scrolling TPF, Instagram, etc for inspiration. And then they know me well enough to remind me what actually suits me and my lifestyle!

Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? Not at all. You can find way better deals perusing multiple online department stores/secondhand sites, and then searching online or on TPF for codes, and then using cashback websites. Plus my credit card offers more cashback for online shopping 😀 I’m the child of Asian immigrants and through them I’ve truly mastered the ways of saving money. If I were truly wealthy, I would definitely love to have SA relationships though. It seems so fun to be able to preview collections etc!

Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? When I first started earning my own money, I definitely treated every purchase like it was a reward. I pushed myself to work hard and get promoted, so I wasn’t going out or traveling much and had an excess of fun money in my budget. And since I didn’t have the time or energy to be social, I just shopped. Now that I’m in a management position at my company, I’ve chilled out, oddly enough. I make sure to balance my work and social life. I’m much happier this way, and I’m happier with the purchases I do go for.

Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? I think the thing about shopping in NYC and being Asian is that SAs profile you and hope that you could be high-rolling tourist. So I’ve not really been snubbed, although that isn’t really a great thing either. It’s kinda funny how SAs profile you. I was trying on Stuart Weitzman shoes one summer and wearing these crazy Burberry sandals (pre-owned so they’re past season and not any of the currently hyped items, but they’re super colorful and unique so clearly not cheap either).

I caught the SA peering into my sandals trying to figure out the brand and how expensive they could be! I don’t begrudge them that though. It’s their job and when I worked in service all through undergrad I learned how much it can suck. I usually go to a store to get reference for how things look for me, then go home and stalk the internet waiting for a sale. So I try not to interact with any SAs at all because I know that they won’t be making their commission off me and I don’t want to waste their time.

The Money

Who pays for your bags? Me. My boyfriend has gifted me bags but I never ask for them from him. My mom insists on getting a wishlist from me for birthdays and holidays, so I usually get some from her, but I have never asked for a bag from her that cost more than $200.

Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? I have to! Any excess money that’s not on necessities or savings gets filed away for purchases, plus all my cashback and bonuses. I have such a strict budget that I live under that when I got my raise I continued to live on my previous budget. So it was nice to be able to increase my savings and fun money!

The Taboo Topics

Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? Ha! I haven’t, but I’ve been given some. The country in Asia where my family is from has fakes running around everywhere, so no one bats an eye. Working in a creative field, I understand how it feels when someone steals your work.

Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? Never. He’s a worse shopper than me! He has talked me down from some bad shopping decisions though.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? Hmmmm… I think all the shopping habits I described are pretty crazy.

Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? I did! Like what I said about work. I just introduced some travel and increased my “social” budget so that I shopped less. I went back to some hobbies, and now shopping is less of a stress-reliever and more of a fun thing to do every now and then.

The Rest Of It

Any other expensive hobbies or passions? I’m a musician which can be very expensive at times. I also like art and going to the amazing NYC art museums, plus making art. And I like photography, which is such an expensive hobby. I like fine dining too, but that’s not a big part of my life growing up, so I only feel the need to splurge on that for my birthday or anniversary with my boyfriend.

Anything else you would like to include? Don’t prioritize work and money over friends and play! Life is better with people to share it with!