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Is Having a Designer Handbag a Human Right?

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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.

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