Luxury Shopping with My Mom

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My one stab at luxury: a Chanel wallet-on-a-chain bag. Besides my condo and car, the third most expensive purchase I’ve ever made 🙂

(Btw, there was a glitch with my RSS feed over the weekend. You might’ve seen an incomplete post accidentally published, grr.)

Back in August, I was visiting my family when my mom suddenly expressed a desire to purchase a luxury handbag. Now, my mom’s not exactly a regular luxury purchaser – she used to be a big fan of Walmart bags, and gradually migrated over the last 10 years or so to Nine West and now Coach-level  bags. There isn’t much opportunity to purchase or appreciate luxury handbags in the small-mid-sized city where my parents currently live – the lifestyle there is probably more geared towards hiking than Hermes.

What prompted her desire for a luxury handbag? I think it was her recent visits to China – there, people are much more sensitive to brands and to “face“, and my mom didn’t want to appear cheap. Whether that’s a good reason or not, it’s not for me to judge, but I’d guess it’s a common driver of luxury purchases.

At that time, we were visiting Montreal, which has a good collection of the luxury stores  – think Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Prada, etc. I like seeing all the pretty things, so of course I agreed to accompany her. I didn’t really know what to expect – my one luxury handbag, the Chanel bag pictured above, was a gift from S when we were dating. To be honest, I was a bit apprehensive – I was imagining snooty, elegant salespeople vs my mom, who is more… direct and hands-on, with both the bags and the price, if you can imagine 🙂

Anyway, we first hit up Louis Vuitton, because, well, that LV checker pattern is ubiquitous and thus my mom knew it. The store had all kinds of trendy new models on display, but since I know *a little* bit about luxury bags from my blog reading, I asked the saleslady to show her the more classic Speedy and the Neverfull models. My mom’s major complaint with these “revered” 😉 classics was “more pockets! these bags don’t have any pockets inside!” So we exited the store without credit card damage,.

We next headed up the street to the Hermes shop. My mom had never heard of Hermes, but I pointed out an oddly-colored Kelly on display and whispered to her that it is one of the most expensive bags in the world. A Mandarin-speaking saleslady came over, which was helpful (good staffing for overseas tourists, I suppose). The saleslady had one white glove on, Michael Jackson style, which I found hilarious. My mom asked if she also had to wear a glove to touch the bag, but luckily the saleslady allowed us to touch the bag with our greasy paws 😛

Since she wasn’t very familiar with the brand (“how will people recognize it’s a Hermes bag?”), my mom nixed Hermes and we left the store and went upstairs to Chanel. There, the most intimidating saleslady I had met all day was standing there, all French and fancy looking. I immediately felt self-conscious about the state of my fingernails and eyebrows. But she turned out to be very nice and helpful! She didn’t mind at all my mom’s window shopping and numerous questions. The store had a couple of the classic flap bags, but my mom deemed them too small and too pricey (~$4000, compared to the LV which were more around the $2000 range).

The little luxury mall we were in also had smaller brand displays, along with the standalone stores that we had already visited. So I took the opportunity to ogle the other bags and introduce my mom to some other brands, like Celine and YSL. (My current fave, in the unlikely event of me making a luxury purchase, is the Celine Classic Box or the Mansur Gavriel north south tote.) Unfortunately, the number of choices led to bewilderment on the part of my mom, who had mostly been aware of LV, Chanel, and Gucci up til then. She massaged a couple of other luxury bags and agreed they were equally nice as the LV and Chanel she had been liking up til now. What’s the difference, she asked?

Then, to really open up a can of worms, I told her about the resale website, TheRealReal. She decided to go back to the hotel and check out the options and prices online. We spent the rest of the afternoon browsing the website, and guess how that ended? Well, if the number of choices in store was bewildering, then browsing online led to real decision paralysis.

So in the end, what was the result of our afternoon of window shopping? Take a guess… My mom didn’t end up purchasing anything! Too many brands, too many styles, too many colors, too many prices… she decided to continue checking the resale website and see if anything popped up that really struck her fancy.  And what did I get out of it, besides a lot of FitBit steps? A very pleasant afternoon spent window shopping with my mom 🙂

Do you enjoy the process of shopping as much as the purchase? Have you ever felt intimidated in luxury shops? Do certain bags jump out at you from a sea of choices?

Review: Filson Original Briefcase

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Filson original briefcase in navy.

I’ve recently been on the hunt for a new laptop bag to use on a daily basis and also at professional events. This bag has to tick several checkmarks: long strap, non-black, compact, and stylish. It should hold my laptop, a couple of papers, and the usual wallet/keys/phone/chapstick, and have a long strap for hands-free usage. After seeing a sale for $200, I pulled the trigger on the Filson Original Briefcase, which is well-reviewed. Before clicking the “Buy” button, though, one of the things I searched for but couldn’t find were pictures of women wearing the bag, to see the proportions. Sure, I checked the measurements, but seeing the bag against a female body gives such a better sense of perspective. Hence, this review.Read More »