2018 thoughts on bags

Updated: Bao Bao Issey Miyake added

Every year I intend to write ‘year in review’ posts. Somehow time escapes me, so let’s see if this works this year. I plan to write on different topics. First up: bags.

I go through periods of times of buying no bags and then bam! I get a few. I bought a few recently, mostly black bags.

($$$$ to $)

  • The spendiest purchases were driven by Hedi’s takeover of Céline. I couldn’t get myself to Europe soon enough, so I managed with duty free shops in Seoul. Prices are comfortably below US prices and the # of stores are somewhat plentiful. I went to 4 duty free boutiques – 3 in Seoul and 1 in the Incheon airport! For the most part, what I purchased is what I have wanted to purchase for years but the opportunity and urgency never arose. I have no regrets with my purchases, although I have yet to use all of them. I have invested in Samorga inserts for most of them.

I am hesitant to buy Céline secondhand online. It’s hard to assess the structure of a non-super structured bag on the internet. Or for example, the Trio was quietly redesigned in recent years where the straps that connect to the purse were reinforced. This isn’t apparent in most online listings. I wouldn’t want to buy an older Trio. I haven’t sold any of my Célines, but the resale of some of them look roughly the same as duty free. It’s a no lose situation, in my opinion. Some of the classic Phoebe Philo designs are still around but now don the new Celine logo (no accent over the é) and new colors.

Image: Celine

  • (Updated: Can’t believe I forgot to include Bao Bao!) My friend Pam got me into Bao Bao Issey Miyake bags. At some point, they were super hard to buy in Asia. Almost everyone and their mom has one, it seems. They are popular with the older crowd. The brand is Japanese, but I found these bags much better stocked in the US and sometimes on sale/discount! I have four of the totes in different sizes (Prism or Lucent) and got the last one when I was in Tokyo. I highly recommend these for its lightweight, low maintenance, easy to pack (flattens), and uncommon style (at least outside of Asia). I think I’m done for now!

Prism Tote in a Japan-exclusive color

Continue reading “2018 thoughts on bags”

to shop / {high and low} celine small vertical cabas tote vs mark and graham italian leather crossbody tote

I bought the Celine small vertical cabas tote in black grained calfskin (FR link) a few years ago and promptly sold it as it was an unplanned purchase in Paris due to using up expiring credit. I don’t regret it, the timing was off. Lately I’ve been wanting the same bag again, but I couldn’t find it in during my last trip to Europe. I’m guessing this style and color is hard to find outside of Paris, which has an abundance of Celine stockists. Celine has updated their website since so now you can easily search for availability online.

I came upon Mark and Graham and their Italian Leather Crossbody Tote looked very much inspired by the Celine. (Note: this site is owned by Williams-Sonoma and will put a monogram on everything.) M&G has some good looking bags but it’s hard to find reviews of them. I have one piazza zip pouch from M&G made of Italian leather and the leather is very nice. I would say it’s a similar leather as this bag.

(Images: Celine, Mark and Graham)

The M&G comes in navy, brown, and cream. Of those three colors, I think Celine’s only ever made it in cream. I like the navy and the brown, but would’ve preferred it in black. I ordered a monogram-less brown and navy when it was initially marked down.

(Image: Mark and Graham)

My photo of the actual item

Notes: 

  • Dimensions were very similar.
  • Leather grain was noticeable smaller and more delicate on the Celine.

What I didn’t like:

  • Hardware: There’s a round piece of hardware on the sides of the bag. It distracts from the sleekness. You can see it the clearest on the blue bag above.
  • Edges: The vertical edges are very round and nowhere near a 90 degree angle and as a result didn’t appear to be straight edge (as seen above). Also distracting from the sleekness. I think this comes from the stiffness of the leather and don’t see it going away or softening up with usage.
  • Hard to adjust strap: I’m not sure if it’s that hard to adjust the strap length on the Celine but it was impossible to adjust on this bag. If you’re shorter end of petite, you would need to get extra holes punched.

Verdict: I didn’t expect the M&G to match up to the Celine at ~10-20% of the price. The M&G sale price is a steal (I didn’t think it’s worth its retail) and a good buy for someone who wants this style and doesn’t mind the lack of defined edges. I am still waiting to encounter the Celine again.

Note on Mark & Graham shopping experience:

  • If you want to be able to return it, don’t get it monogrammed. I have gotten stuff monogrammed before and some were done poorly. They were good about sending replacements. 
  • The returning process was slow compared to most other e-tailers. It took them almost 2 weeks to process the return after receipt during the summer and maybe it’s because I sent an email to inquire on the status. They also charge you for the UPS label (which is fine given the size of the boxes).