I’ve bought a few more bags since I last posted about my Alma – well actually, I’d already bought them at the time , but I didn’t own them yet. There are a few online shops selling used designer goodies that offer a layaway option, and I used this to nab a few more Vuittons and spread out the payments a bit to fit it into my budget better.
I feel a little guilty sharing all these finds, because I know how it appears to a lot of people. Several designer bags in two months? Ridiculous! But I do have a monthly “play money” budget, and in order to buy some more bags and build up a little collection I simply eschewed my other, usual monthly purchases to buy these. So I really didn’t spend any more on my new bags than I do any other month, and spreading the payments out over time helped me to acquire them. That said, I don’t intend to keep doing it long-term, because I have limited storage as it is and don’t intend to buy things I am not going to use; I’ve already sold one bag I bought and ended up not liking and given two away (one to my best friend Candace, who really loved it and is using it like crazy, and another one I donated to our school to auction off in this year’s fundraiser). So, even though I know I haven’t spent any more money on these than I normally spend on other things, I’m going to avoid talking about actual prices in the posts so I don’t come across as obnoxious. But if you really want to know how much I paid for these, ask me in the comments and I’ll answer; I get why people would be curious to know how much these cost. I will say they all cost almost the exact same amount, because as much as I am obsessed with Vuitton right now, there’s a limit to how much I’m willing to spend and I just can’t bring myself to go over that. Moving on.
All of these bags were purchased used, and with one exception came from the same online store – Fashionphile. There are a few other places I like to browse that also offer layaway, but Fashionphile’s policies are the most reasonable; 25% down and 60 days to pay off the item with a minimum payment of $50 each time. I can cancel the layaway at any time for a re-stocking fee of 10% of the item’s cost. I did change my mind on one layaway and request to cancel it; I received an email response within five minutes of making the request and the layaway was canceled, no questions asked (my fee in that case was about $28). I read up on the site a bit before my first purchase, and as with any store that generates a decent amount of traffic there are some negative reviews out there; but my personal experience so far has been great, so for now I’m quite happy with them.
Shipping is fast and the bags arrive packaged nicely, as you can see (click the images to get a larger view). Fashionphile puts each item into its own dustbag, packs it up in plastic, then stuffs the box with paper so the bag doesn’t slip around. Very nice presentation all around; even if all that fancy paper waters down the store’s commitment to promoting a green lifestyle by recycling bags instead of buying new ones. But still – very nice, pretty packaging that makes it feel like you’ve bought something new. A far cry from the typical packaging you get on eBay, where purchased items are often stuck into flimsy, abused Amazon.com boxes and stuffed with old newspaper that smells like wet feet (if packed in anything at all).
Some of the messaging on the site, however, is confusing. For example, when reading about the store’s layaway policy, the site claims that there is no minimum required on layaway payments, yet when you go to make a payment you find there actually is a minimum of $50. And then, there’s this:
The card on the left states that a buyer can return a bag for 70% of the purchase price after “wearing it and loving it” for up to 90 days. Yet the tag attached to the purse states that the item can’t be returned once it’s removed. So, does this mean I have to leave the tag on while I “wear and love” the bag for 90 days? Because that’s just stupid. I suspect what they mean is that I can return for a full refund with the tag still on, but will only get 70% of the purchase price back if I return the item without the tag, but I’m still not sure.
But enough of all that, let’s look at the bags (remember, click the photo for a larger view):
After acquiring several pieces in the traditional Monogram canvas, I decided I wanted a few casual ones in a more relaxed material, since I am generally a dress-down kinda gal. The Speedy 30 on the left is a linen blend fabric (and came with the original dustbag – score!), while the one on the right is, obviously, denim. The denim one was an unexpected purchase, in that it’s not something I ever would have thought I’d like; if you described a denim purse to me it would sound horrible, but when this one showed up on the site I liked it right away. As always, I waited about a week before pulling the trigger, because sometimes I really like something when I first see it and then later change my mind (hence my one canceled layaway). But I still loved this one a week later, so I went for it. It’s heaver than I expected due to the flashy hardware, which I normally am not drawn to in bags and have never had, but other than that I’m still quite happy with it.
One lesson I’ve learned so far is to look out for the bag’s description. Both of the bags above were labeled in “good” (the denim) or “very good” (the linen) condition, and in my opinion they’re even better than I expected. Sure, the denim is faded, but it already has a faded look even when new, so I don’t mind, and the leather and zippers as well as the hardware are all shiny and nice. But the first bag I bought from them was in a condition the site described as “fair,” and I realized after owning it a few days that I wasn’t happy with the state of it. While the bags above don’t need any re-furbishing from me, and the other eBay bags like my Alma were easily revivable (if that’s a word), I disliked the condition of the leather on this one, and gave it to my friend eventually, because I knew I wasn’t going to be happy with it in the long run (as I mentioned already, she absolutely loves it, so it all worked out. And now she’s as obsessed with Vuitton as I am, so my evil plan is working…heh).
The purse itself is pretty, but the leather really bugged me, and the interior wasn’t all that great either. It looks fine from a distance, but the handles were so worn out and dry I didn’t like they way felt any more than how they looked:
You can see that I tried to treat the top handle, and in fact spent several days trying to get the leather into a condition I could like, but it just wouldn’t work. The leather on the corners was also in bad shape:
Top top photos are the corners before I cleaned and conditioned them, and the bottom shots were taken after I did so. However, I still felt they looked a bit worn out and dingy overall, and obviously I couldn’t get that pen mark out either.
I do not think this bag was misrepresented on the site; rather, I think I overestimated my ability to spruce up a bag: I could not work the miracles on this one that I’d hoped for. Moving forward I decided to avoid any bag the site described as ‘fair,’ and to stick to the bags in better condition; I don’t want to risk getting another one that I don’t care for. While I’m getting good deals on these, they are still expensive enough that I’m not willing to risk it again.
Now – there’s one more. I spied this one on eBay when I was looking for bags in Vuitton’s Epi leather, which is something I want to add to my little haul. I stumbled across this St Tropez bag in an Epi leather color called Vanilla, and it was only $170. Plus, it appeared to be in very good condition, so even though it wasn’t the sort of bag I’d usually carry (in case you can’t tell already, I lean towards large, floppy, unstructured bags) I couldn’t pass it up. However, I think I am going to send out some photos and get some quotes from consignment shops about this one; there’s a chance I might get offered more for it than I paid, since it sells used anywhere from $380 to $600 online. It’s not very “me,” but it’s very pretty (not sure it photographs well, but trust me, in person it’s a lovely bag).
As far as selling bags, I sold my first one to a site called Couture USA. They offered me a fair price for my Sac Plat and paid me the day they received it, so I have no complaints about them. I sent photos of the Sac to both Fashionphile and another site I can’t remember, but they both declined to buy it due to its age. I’m going to send the photos of the St. Tropez several places and see who gives me the best price, so I’ll keep you posted on that.
As far as shopping at these places, as I mentioned I like Fashionphile best, but Couture USA also has nice finds and a good layaway option (30% down instead of the 25% Fashionphile offers, but still decent). And, while Fashionphile only peddles the purses of high-end designers, Couture USA also re-sells contemporary designer bags like Coach, Dooney and Burke, and Tory Burch – for very good prices indeed (less than $100 in many instances). I ordered a used Gucci wallet from them quite some time ago, and was pleased with the overall transaction as well as the item I received.
I hope some of this was at least interesting…and by the way, I was in no way paid to write this post up and discuss these stores. As I think I’ve already made clear, I bought all this stuff with my own money, so there you go.