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

  • The APC Meryl in quilted black leather is a nice APC alternative to my favorite half moon bag. Slightly smaller, softer yet not delicate. Compact enough to throw into a tote. The strap is also thick and comfy. I really like wearing a crossbody to work when I don’t have too much to carry!

Image: APC

  • I purchased the Mansur Gavriel tumble small tote in black during the first online sample sale. It took me almost half a year to unbox it. I love the size, the slouch, the light weight, and the price. I find the “large” MG tote to be way too big. Tumble leather is very nice and different than the more popular vegetable tanned, calf leather, or saffiano. I wouldn’t have given tumble a second glance if I hadn’t seen it in person. It gives a different vibe for the same style in another bag. The only thing that is slightly off-putting is the smell of the leather. Most of it has aired out but there is still a whiff (and this happened to my new Céline bags too). I sometimes use this bag for work and throw the Meryl in when I don’t have time to switch bags. It’s perfect for papers, but I wouldn’t weigh it down with a laptop.


Image: Mansur Gavriel

  • Clare V perf/perforated leather. I really like most of the items in this leather, especially the SLGs. The patina on this simple tote is incredible, but I rarely use something that big nowadays. I need a key wallet and really want one of the Clare V perforated wallets in a lighter brown (cuoio), but they seem to sell out so fast. I got the Bruno sans strap. It’s a nice, casual summer/fall bag. Slightly bigger than a crossbody. It’s CV’s 10 year anniversary, by the way.

Image: Clare V

  • J.Crew has these super affordable camo print everyday totes and you can monogram them! (Thanks to the stranger sporting a bag at EWR arrivals.) I’m typically not one to personalize things, but I couldn’t resist ordering these with an orange monogram over Cyber Week — the 50% off promotion applied to the bags and monograms. Great for gifting. Do note their processing time, I’m still waiting for my order. (Similar is the LLBean Hunter tote, however no monogram. Previously mentioned here. Mine is going strong and so practical.)

Image: J.Crew

  • The Momofuku Milk Bar book pre-order came with this tote for free. I love their cake and the tote is perfection. The tote has since sold out but it’s available in this set. (Sidenote: the book is surprisingly OOS on Amazon. I don’t plan to bake cake, I got it for the eye candy.)


Image: Twitter

I sold some bags this year – bags that no longer spark joy (like the MG saffiano bucket bag and the Ecco Derna lady bag) and plain ol’ shopping regrets (such as the another MG sample sale purchase and the Clare V Le Big Sac!). Resale value is something I think about when I buy a more expensive bag. There are some more bags to clean out once I have time!

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to shop / mansur gavriel online sample sale review and tips (round 1)

Image: Mansur Gavriel

Mansur Gavriel is currently hosting its first sample sale through April 21, 2018 in Soho, New York City. Today is the third day. I didn’t have high expectations for the sale, but from the sample sale reports on social media, it looks amazing minus the lines. They have significant discounts, variety, no complaints on bag condition, restocking throughout, etc. Sample sales rarely bring out the best in people. When the discounts are 70% off patent leather or fabric bags, 50% off suede, calf, or tumbled leather bags, 40% off vegetable tanned leather bags, $125 for flat clutches, and 65% off ready to wear, it’s a bargain hunter’s paradise as much as it is a reseller’s.

The rest of this post will focus on the online sample sale experience. Hopefully it helps someone who wants to try for Day 4. This is based on my own online shopping experiences as well as tips that other shoppers have left on social media and forums. This is not a true sample sale but more like an overstock/clearance of discontinued items sale.

Continue reading “to shop / mansur gavriel online sample sale review and tips (round 1)”

to shop / mansur gavriel nyc pop-up review & lady bag in tumbled and saffiano leather

The Mansur Gavriel pop-up shop in the Soho area of NYC has been open from mid-November through January 11. After MG announced the expansion of their Saffiano line on December 13, it gave me incentive to check out the saffiano bags. Unfortunately, MG bags are still final sale when you purchase from mansurgavriel.com, which I strongly dislike because (1) they are expensive (2) many styles/colors are only available directly from MG who normally doesn’t have a storefront and (3) MG can be difficult with any flaws on the bag (this is based on personal experience and what I’ve read on TPF). I consider myself lucky that I live near their pop-up.

The pop-up is very spacious, minimalist, and pink. If you don’t like rose quartz pink which is popular with MG and Glossier, tough luck! I went mid-afternoon and got personal attention from both SA’s — not all stocked items are displayed and they also mentioned that they have the large lady bag in stock. There is also plenty of seating for the men and a fancy flower shop.

As I was trying on the bags, I realized that if I ever were to get another, I would need a regular sized lady bag so I can hold letter sized paper. I also was surprised at how gorgeous the tumbled leather is! The tumbled leather bag was lying around (the sales assistants try their best to put away bags while answering questions) and I think I might like it more than the saffiano, which is unfortunate for my wallet. The tumbled leather style is thicker than expected, perhaps due to the canvas lining, and will not stand on its own unless you stuff it. Out of all of the MG bag styles, the lady bag is my favorite and uniquely MG.

Pricing is higher than the bucket, given the style and construction:

  • Mini Lady: vegetable tanned $750, saffiano $795, tumbled or calf $1050
  • Lady: vegetable tanned $895, saffiano $945, tumbled or calf $1195

Orders with MG sent to NJ, NY, and CA have sales tax.

This “baby bucket” is exclusive to the pop-up and designed for a baby/toddler. It fits your smartphone if it’s not XL.

The mini lady bag in black saffiano and rosa saffiano with matching interiors.

I compared the mini lady with a regular lady in calf leather and quickly noticed the fraying thread. Ick. I have a detailed post on regular lady vs mini lady bag size here.

The saffiano leather is a very structured leather. Maybe it’s a little too structured for the lady bag style.

It’s hard to see, but there were dirt marks on the rosa saffiano. Not impressed even if it’s a floor sample. This cemented my decision to steer away from a rosa saffiano lady. I have a rosa saffiano mini bucket (review) which has some dirt marks that couldn’t be easily removed with a baby wipe. I asked the SA how to clean it and referred me to Leather Spa. That’s a cop out answer to me.

Regular lady bag in peony pink calf leather, mini lady bag in royal blue tumbled leather

Circle of MG lady bags, clockwise from left: black saffiano mini lady, red calf lady, rosa saffiano mini lady, and blu tumbled mini lady.

Love the non-knot of this peony tumbled leather mini lady

Closer look

to shop / mansur gavriel mini saffiano bucket review

Mansur Gavriel, previously reviewed: saffiano bucket in black/flamma and mini lady bag in brandy/brick.

I really wanted a smaller sized bucket for lighter days after using the regular sized one. My heart was set on saffiano given what a breeze it is to maintain. Currently, the mini bucket is only available in saffiano at Barneys in either black/flamma or rosa/rosa. I’m not really a pink person; I’m treating the rosa/rosa as a neutral (ballet pink). Inevitably I have some ‘on Wednesdays, we wear pink’ moments when I wear an item of clothing in the same color family. The rosa/rosa has gotten a lot of compliments.

Mini saffiano bucket and the regular saffiano bucket

Brandy mini lady in vegetable tanned vs. mini saffiano bucket

What I really like about it (that I didn’t already mention in my other bucket review)

Continue reading “to shop / mansur gavriel mini saffiano bucket review”

to shop / mansur gavriel brandy mini lady review (and how to clean/condition vegetable tanned leather)

I got the mini lady bag in brandy vegetable tanned leather with a brick matte interior back in April. I’ve been using it on and off.

Leather – vegetable tanned vs saffiano vs calf leather: Ever since I laid eyes on MG, it’s always been love at first sight with the caramel brown hue called brandy. This color only comes in vegetable tanned. The saffiano lady only comes in black, which is a bit boring since I already have a black saffiano bucket bag. It is a nice bag though for those who are looking for a more structured, super low maintenance material, and another black bag. I also think the black saffiano makes it more formal — and a perfect work/travel bag. I never liked the look of the lady in calf leather — the top gets pulled by the rest of the bag.

Size – mini vs regular: I typically do not carry a lot. I already have a number of larger bags and was looking for something smaller, but bigger than my APC Half Moon bag. The regular lady would fit a 13″ Macbook Pro if you loosen the drawstring. If you’ve seen the buckets in its regular and mini size, the regular and mini lady bags hold about the same volume as its bucket counterparts.

Here are some size comparisons:

Brandy mini lady in vegetable tanned vs. regular lady in black saffiano

Continue reading “to shop / mansur gavriel brandy mini lady review (and how to clean/condition vegetable tanned leather)”