Once, in a bag store where I happened to be in my element, studying and fondling the latest bags on display, a guy friend, who was patiently watching me go about my serious business, asked, “Why do women buy bags? I mean, really, the function?”
What my lips couldn’t utter, my eyes did. I gave him the dagger look. There came no follow-up question.
But really—why do women buy bags? Or let me rephrase, why do women keep on buying bags (or shoes)?
For some, having a bag, or the latest style, is an obsession. There are “it” girls/guys, there are “it” bags.
Bags are to today’s generation of women what jewelry was to our grandmothers. They are collector’s items which the collector doesn’t get tired of, or which she hands down to kin or a friend, like one would an heirloom piece.
There are women (and men) who see bags as an investment they can resell or pawn. I can’t forget what a girl friend told me a few years ago: “I paid for the hospital bills in part by selling my Vuittons.”
There’s a burgeoning market for what they call “pre-loved bags”—or bags that an owner once enjoyed and is now willing to part with. (Pre-loved men? Who knows, a market may yet develop for that one.)
A friend who heads a luxury retail line once complained to me how an auction house had approached him, wanting him to authenticate a luxury bag it planned to put on the block for a nifty price, but which didn’t allow him to put the bag under scrutiny. No auction house would put such merchandise up for auction unless it saw a market for it.
The new diamonds
Bags are the new diamonds, so to speak, or to some matrons, the “new DI” (as in dance instructor). Women pay a price for them because they get a high from owning them.
In fashionspeak, bags are the coolest accessory or style statement. They indicate not only a woman’s or man’s style taste, but also his/hers social status.
Or—crime. Recent example—at the onset of the Napoles controversy, social media brimmed over with posts of Napoles’ daughter and her luxury bags (and Hublot watch). Bags are tell-tale signs of one’s material horde.
Bags are also the latest magnet for Kim Henares and the BIR.
So, to answer the question of my guy friend, which I never got to answer—yes, bags have gone way beyond their function of carrying one’s stuff. It’s not just a container.
Some bags cost a fortune because of the design genius that is behind their creation, indeed, the craftsmanship and the material. Hermès’ Birkin is made by hand and takes almost a month to make, thus the wait list.
The materials of luxury bags, especially leather, undergoes a stringent treatment process.
And, if you don’t already know, if you travel around with your croc or any animal skin that’s conservation-protected, you need a certificate indicating that it was produced following the required process of manufacturing and conservation laws. Some ports of entry ask for this certificate.
Given how bags have become this century’s objets d’art, it didn’t take much for us in Inquirer Lifestyle and LOOK magazine (published by Hinge Inquirer) to think up a mini book devoted to bags and to bagaholics—from the iconic designs to the stylish collectors to the craftsmanship and the maintenance and care of bags.
LOOK editors Carmencita Sioson and Stefanie Cabal collaborated on this milestone project to be launched on Tuesday, Oct. 28, at the new mall of Stores Specialists, Inc., the Central Square at Bonifacio Global City.
Finally, we’re able to mount a bags exhibit, a project I’ve been dreaming of the past five years. The “Help! I’m a Bagaholic” exhibit displays iconic bags lent us by collectors and, of course, SSI. It was an idea I broached to SSI head Anton Huang five years ago.
The mini book features collectors led by Heart Evangelista—who, I didn’t know until now, loves Hermès so much, but who now seems to defer to her fiancé, Sen. Chiz Escudero, about such stuff—and also, Maggie Wilson Consunji, Ingrid Chua Go, mother-and-daughter Rina Go and Nicole Thorp, foremost bag designer/fashion educator and Lifestyle columnist Amina Aranaz-Alunan, and many more.
Follow ThelmaSSanJuan on Twitter and thelmasiosonsanjuan on Instagram.