Monday, February 12, 2018

The "It Bags" of Yesteryear

Three celebrities with their Miu Miu Coffers, a pre-2010 "it bag" that has not held its value. I adored this bag when I was in college. 

The first unattainably expensive designer bag I coveted, back in college and not long after The Devil Wears Prada movie ignited my interest in fashion, was the Miu Miu Coffer. I didn't have much reason for it, certainly didn't have a sense of my "personal style", nor did I yet have a good understanding of my handbag preferences (I now favor large, unfussy totes). I just knew that it was beautiful, and that the whole combination: ruched leather, braided handle, and oddly placed front pockets, just seemed perfect, even if it all looks rather fussy to me now. I looked eagerly at celebrity street style photos of it, was familiar with all of the few that popped up online. Every time I saw it in real life, I stared at it wistfully from a distance.

Had I saved my work-study and summer earnings for it, I'd have been disappointed in my investment. Certain designer bags maintain their resale value well, as we all know, but Miu Miu isn't one of those brands. If I still wanted it, there are several to be had on The Real Real* (affiliate link) for $300 or less, though generally not in good condition, as it's ancient and long-discontinued. It originally retailed for over $1400, so that's a loss in value of more than 60% in the last decade, more if one considers consignment fees. 

I suppose there's not much point to looking back on it, except to emphasize that my teenage self was sometimes silly, didn't have great or particularly consistent taste, and would definitely have wasted tons of money if she had it. I admire people who, at a similarly young age, had a far more thought-out and defined sense of their own style, or aesthetics they were interested in, say Twelve: of Ourwho I sang the praises of when I last reflected on my own early experiences with fashion, desire, and aspirational consuming. 

It's also interesting to see how some "it bags" stand the test of time, and some don't. To me, there doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason to it. Way back when I started this blog, I looked forward to the day, years after I graduated law school, when I could finally indulge in a big designer splurge after having truly earned it. Except even then, I actually wasn't sure of what the bag would be, because I wanted something timeless. It had been a long time since I had been as attracted to any bag as much as that Miu Miu Coffer. So I was ambivalent even then, and that ambivalence only increased after I graduated, as the few "maybe" bags I picked generally weren't cool anymore, even just one year on. 

These days, that hypothetical "distant future splurge" keeps getting pushed back because my career has involved a few voluntary pay cuts, and I've only recently started paying my student loans in earnest. I'm actually pretty sure it won't happen, which isn't sad because, as you've seen, I indulge frequently in shopping and want for nothing. It's simply that my preferences have changed. Furthermore, looking forward, my plans to aggressively finish off my student loans (I could hit "net worth zero" a year from now, and it'll take at least another year and a half after) might not mesh well with goals like buying property, wedding planning, or getting ready to start a family, much less the, er, (still hypothetical) possibility of all of those things coinciding in a fairly short time. All of which is a long way of saying that, now that I've finally settled in to a job with no short-term expiration date, I'm a bit overwhelmed by how long it takes to make financial progress, and how slow the numbers tick in the right direction, especially now that the long-awaited market correction is upon us. 

Have you ever fallen completely in love with a designer item that was unattainably expensive? What was it? Would you still want to buy or wear those items now, if you had been able to buy it? Have those items retained their resale value? 

*Note that many people have raised concerns about The Real Real lacking quality control when it comes to verifying the authenticity of their products. I probably wouldn't worry as much about a really old and relatively low-value handbag that I'd only be interested in as a collector's item (which I'm not actually interested in, but hypothetically speaking). Handbag counterfeiters were extremely sophisticated, even back then, though, so buyer beware.

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