Is Having a Designer Handbag a Human Right?

Owning a designer handbag is not a Human Right.

This country wasn’t found on the principle of life, liberty, and the pursuit of Louis Vuitton. During the crafting of the constitution, John Hancock wasn’t like “Oh, let me hurry up and sign this little document so I can get in line for the Kate Spade Sample Sale”.  Thomas Jefferson wasn’t like “let’s add another amendment to the Bill of rights—all persons should have to right to bear Birkin bags”.

Somehow fighting the British for independence has led to fighting the British for a spot on the Chloe Bag Wait List.

The question of how to score designer handbags, real or fake, is one of the most popular questions on this blog and I’ve always responded with the standard reply (fake is bad, designer too expensive, go for great quality mid price designers like Kooba, Hype, Coach, etc). However, the more I think about it, the more I start to formulate a very different answer. An answer that I didn’t verbalize until I was ask a question by an audience member at one of my recent talks. The audience member asked “Why are so many women obsessed with purchasing expensive designer bags?” and I responded that “Handbags in New York are like cars in LA—a direct symbol of status. Since New York (and cities like London and Tokyo) are such pedestrian cities, the only way to show, or in most cases fake, status is via your handbag (watches for men).”

Now, that I’ve had some more time to think, I’ve expanded on the above answer. I believe that our obsession with designer handbags is because handbags are a cheap way to show status and right now in US and around the world—showing status (wealth, celebrity, etc.) is what matters. Purchasing a handbag is much cheaper and much more accessible to the average shopper than a BMW or a fancy house. Plus, when you wear an expensive handbag, people think the rest of your outfit is expensive, even if you’re dresses from head to toe in Goodwill (something I talk about in the book).  Case in point: The Olsen Twins.

Again, owning a designer handbag is not a Human Right. I don’t even think it’s something you should aspire to even own unless handbags are your signature piece. Instead, focus on finding bags that fit your personal style. In the long run, the right to personal style is the best fashion right to have.

Comments

  1. Annie says

    I think the whole “it” bag phenomena is an (expensive) example of the lemming effect. People dropping $$$ for bags that they want only because other people have them. Most “it” bags really aren’t that attractive, in my opinion (I have never liked logo bags, especially since they are everywhere now).  I’d far rather buy a reasonably priced bag that I like that is unique (ie not the one everyone has/wants to have).  When I see someone with an “It” bag, I think “nice bag…but where’s the individuality & back bone that goes with it?”  Dunno…that’s just me :)

  2. says

    Great post!

    I’m obsessed with Longchamp bags and I still don’t understand the designer bag obsession. I know girls with very modest finances who view Louis Vuitton bags as a ‘must have’ and nothing less is good enough for them. It’s nuts!

    There are lots of lovely bags out there, and the main difference with a ‘name’ designer is the amount of advertising the company’s done – which you pay for when you buy one.

  3. Alma says

    I am one of those girls who has a modest salary and see Louis Vuitton as a must have. I think it’s pretty much like anything else. I am currently saving up to buy my authentic bag because while I am tempted to buy a fake one, I know that the satisfaction of having saved so much money for my authentic bag will have been worth more than a $1,000. It’s a trend and everyone has different tastes.

  4. uli langenegger says

    Wehre can i find the new collection of handbag of Nancy Gonzalez in New York ?
    Kan you give me the name of the shop and the address in NYK.

  5. Amber says

    Four words. Louis Vuitton equals ug. Most judgmental people like me will probably think it’s fake anyway. Why spend the $$?

  6. katgrrrl says

    RE: Nancy Gonzalez handbags.  They’re sold at Bergdorf Goodman’s on 58th street and 5th avenue.  I’ve never even heard of Nancy Gonzalez, but did a quick Google search n’ WOW!  She has some nice bags!

  7. Jaime Lynn says

    Well, I must say as an avid collector of designer bags that is part of me; it is who I am. There is nothing wrong with wanting nice things. I feel very good about myself when I walk through a shiny Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chole etc store and shop and find my bag for the season. I work very hard and to be able to afford such bags of all different prices $300 to $4000 plus makes me work that much harder. I do NOT believe in fake bags and find the sweatshops a disgrace. I do not believe that having a designer “it” bags make you a better person but it does not make you a bad person either. I think everyone should do what makes them happy and for me its bags. I would rather be a bagalcoholic then any other type. Well I guess I am a shoealcoholic as well. I do not think that you be homeless or starve to buy a Berkin bag but hey life is suppose to be fun.
    Be You – Be Fabulous

  8. Cheryl says

    I would say that I have a shoe and handbag addiction.  It is just one of the things in life that makes me really happy – SHOPPING! I can’t afford the bags at eluxury.com, so I look for authentic bags on discount websites such as Ebay http://www.ebay.com and Shop Star Style http://www.shopstarstyle.com.  I got authentic bags at both places, but I heard of some bad experiences on Ebay.

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