“How much?” My husband’s eyes flew open in disbelief when I gifted myself a designer handbag on my 35th birthday. “It’s not worth it! Is that canvas? It’s not even leather!…”
But when he saw me don this most powerful of accessories, his heart did a back-flip, and out of his lips slipped one syllable. “Wow!”
Not for nothing this pricing.
When the first high-end designer handbag store marked its foray into the Bengaluru territory, everyone reeled under the staggering prices, mocked the brand and swore no one would be foolish enough to spend that kind of money on this kind of thing. ‘Why, I’d rather buy jewellery,’ was a common refrain. Many returned home shaking their heads, certain that luxury brands will have to pack up and leave Indian shores before long.
But when glossy magazines started featuring celebrities carrying designer handbags, when prominent socialites started toting them about, there was a trickle effect. And before long, designer handbags climbed the ladder of social desirability and become one of the most coveted items — at least for some. Others still shake their heads, aghast at the extent people succumb to social pressure.
But is that all it is?
Today, the bag I bought ten years ago looks almost as good as it did the day I bought it, with no signs of wear and tear. It is large, and I have used it as a diaper bag for my daughter, as a shopping bag when I forget my cloth bags, as a swimming bag with a few extra plastic bags thrown in to house my wet costume and towel. It is my standard check-in bag when I fly, and because it carries a ton of stuff, I have often used it as an overnight bag for short trips. It carries my laptop when I want to work at a cafe, medical files when I take my girls to the doctor… And it instantly upgrades my outfit! The best part? Unlike high-street bags which don’t last more than a year, this is a long way off from finding its way into the trash bin.
When you buy designer, you don’t buy recklessly, you don’t discard recklessly. Really, you’re doing the environment a favour. Surely that should ease the guilt of the splurge! Today’s consumers are increasingly buying and throwing, and bags add to that list. It is not unusual to see cheaper handbags come apart after a few uses. Threads unravel, faux leather peels off, into the trash they go.
When you buy designer, you (generally) buy one item at a time. You look after it well. If, after a decade or two, it starts showing damage — you can get it repaired, even send it off to a bag spa (I kid you not, there is such a thing) from where it comes out fresh, rejuvenated and younger by a decade.
If you have but one designer bag, you can carry it every day for the next twenty years. Then you can give it to your daughter, and she can carry it for another twenty.
“Forty years? Are they really that durable?”
“If you look after them well,” they say. For me, that has included stuffing it into overhead compartments, having water and milk bottles emptied out in it, removing remnants of squashed bananas. It’s been stepped on, spilled on, sat on. Durable? My treated canvas handbag? Heck, like iron.
So the next time you have some cash to spare and yet have to add a designer handbag to your wardrobe, give your family jeweller a miss, show your support for good design, aesthetics and the environment and invest in a designer handbag. You know you want to!
This article was featured in The Hindu, Open Page, on March 19, 2017.