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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Handbag Hierarchy

The concept of a "handbag hierarchy" is not new. In fact, it's been one of the hottest topics of discussion among die-hard handbag collectors. The debate ranges from which designer label reigns supreme to what qualifications should be considered to determine a label's rank within the hierarchy. Many will argue that, like beauty, a designer handbag's importance is in the eye of the beholder. I agree with this point to a certain extent. The subject of a handbag hierarchy is somewhat subjective, but there are a few universal truths that surround it.

Let's touch upon the issue of qualifications. What should you take into consideration when determining a designer label's importance. These are a few of the qualities most often mentioned:

-quality materials
-price point

Craftsmanship: A well-made, often hand-made handbag will more than likely outlive its' owner. Many enthusiasts put craftsmanship at the top of their list of requirements when selecting a designer handbag.

Quality materials: Whether it's leather (goatskin, calfskin, etc..), exotic skins (alligator, ostrich, snakeskin) or unique materials such as furs, materials used to craft a designer handbag play an important role in determining its' worth.

Price point: A designer handbag's price tag is arguably the single most important determinant a prospective buyer entertains when deciding on a purchase. Simply put - how much does it cost, and can you afford it?

Exclusivity: For many of us, a designer handbag's allure lies not in any of the aforementioned points but rather in whether or not the bag is easily attainable. The harder it is to score, the more coveted it becomes.

History: Nothing provides one a sense of belonging more than owning a little piece of handbag history. Those of us that appreciate the art of handbag design will take a label's long and illustrious history of handbag excellence into account when adding a bag to our wardrobe.

The model above illustrates the hierarchy I feel best represents the current designer handbag market. As I stated before, this model is debatable as well it should be. The placement of these labels can and will change over the course of time. Some may move up in rank while others might well lose their desirability. I use this model as a guide when deciding which bag to add to my collection, but many times I go with my instincts and buy lesser known labels or just any bag which grabs my attention.

The addition of a true investment piece, as most upper level label handbags are, requires thoughtful reflection and much consideration. Take the points mentioned here and make up your own "handbag hierarchy" model. I'm sure it'll help and be fun to boot.


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