Marie Claire Fashion Director and Project Runway judge, Nina Garcia made quite the splash on Twitter last week, linking to a Hermès handbag auction on Moda Operandi and stating, “This is the bag that you can spend a few week’s salary on and not feel guilty.”
People fired back at Nina in a major way. Some wondered why anyone would ever use a few week’s salary on a handbag and others were outraged Ms. Garcia believed a $3,800 Hermès Birkin would be within most people’s budgets, even if they saved up a few paychecks.
Nina is in the business of aspirational buying, creating fantasies with each glossy page and making us drool over things we know very well that we cannot afford. Staring at four figure prices all day can make editors and bloggers a bit insensitive (and delusional), but I was still surprised by the response: aren’t most people who are following her on twitter in some way interested in fashion? Which fashion-minded woman doesn’t know what a Birkin is and its astronomical price? Or have luxury handbags in some way lost their allure and appeal?
Kyle Anderson, Marie Claire’s Accessories Director, also shouted out expensive handbags in a cheeky way a couple of weeks ago.
One might find the above funny, but those of us who work in fashion know that it is all too true! From late rent to weeks eating nothing but Ramen noodles, many women and men are going to extremes just to carry their favorite luxury handbag. In a #blogtrends chat last week, blogger and beauty vlogger Kim Porter gave some advice to “not go broke trying to be something you’re not.” Does this really hold true? In a world where status means so much and luxury reflects your status, what is one to do?
We even compiled a list of Ten Fly Investment Handbags to guide you when you should you make the splurge. The response was positive, though often on “Accessories Lust” posts, we get comments stating that some of the bags aren’t worth the price and that you’d never spend that much money on a bag. Others often even point out that Zara and H&M have similar styles for less.
Personally, I own bags from most of the brands mentioned above, but a large majority were either bought on consignment, sale, or are vintage, meaning I didn’t shell out $2K for the full retail price, though I have on a couple occasions. I still browse the pages of ASOS, Zara, and others for great handbags for less and I will wear them with as much confidence as a more expensive brand, even mixing them with a pair of expensive shoes for a high-low mix.
So were Nina Garcia and Kyle Anderson totally wrong? Should we be using our hard-earned money on luxury handbags, even if it takes us weeks or months (or a few skipped meals)? Or should we simply aim for bags in our price range? And how much would you spend on a luxury handbag?