CC 204: The Collector Whose Luxury Love Was Inherited

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We’re here with a fresh installment of Closet Confessionals, checking in with a young collector hailing from Washington, DC! A lover of bags at her core, CC 204 developed an appreciation and love for luxury from her mom and her grandmother. In fact, it was CC 204’s grandmother who gifted her the first designer bag in her collection.

That bag, a vintage Gucci bag from the 80s, was used once and tucked away in its dust bag ever since. These days, it remains part of CC 204’s collection, sitting alongside another vintage beauty—an adorable Chanel that she purchased back in 2015 for just $500!

A young but smart shopper, CC 204 is mindful about her spending, checking in with herself often as shopping addictions do run in her family. However, CC 204’s financial goals are never interrupted by a need to buy something new, and she’s able to shop and save for the future in tandem.

Read the full CC below!

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Basic Bio

Your Age? 26
Your Gender Identity? Female
Where do you live? Washington, DC
What is your occupation? Genetic Counselor
What industry do you work in? Healthcare
Your annual salary? $101,000
Total Household Income? $121,000
Are you a PurseForum member? No

Onto The Bags

How many bags do you own? 21

What bags are in your collection? From luxe designers, I have an Hermès Evelyne TPM in Lime that I adore, a one series Chanel satin evening bag with faux pearls (and very worn corners now!), and a pre-1992 vintage Gucci canvas bag with bamboo pieces in the gold hardware. I also count non-designer bags in my collection number, though, like my micro-tote made entirely from Capri Sun packets and my grandmother’s honeymoon present, a 1950s alligator bag. The Capri Sun bag gets more compliments than all of my other bags combined!

My mom was a big Coach fan in her late teens/early 20s, which inspired my own Coach collecting with my allowance/job money as a teen, so most of the remainder of my collection are 1990s-2010s Coach.

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How much is your collection worth? $7,380

What is your most expensive bag? Definitely the Hermès, although the Evelyne TPM still feels like a deal compared to other beautiful bags from Hermès. My Chanel evening bag has likely appreciated the most out of any of my bags, though, as I bought it for around $500 in excellent condition in 2015 or so – hard to imagine this being possible now!

Do you ever regret any of your bag purchases? If so, which ones and why? While I somewhat regret some of my now very out-of-date 2000s Coach purchases, it’s been fun bringing a few of my “out-of-date” bags back out with Y2K becoming a trend again (i.e. my hot pink terrycloth Juicy Couture “armpit bag”).

What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? I was gifted the vintage Gucci when I was 14. My grandmother wore it once for a wedding in the 80s or 90s and left it in its dustbag ever since. With my growing interest in fashion, she offered to let me take it home. If outlet Coach qualifies, I bought my first little Coach bag with birthday money when I was too young, probably before age 12.

Is there a specific bag you are looking to purchase next? I’m bad in that I don’t have a wishlist – I buy what I like and can afford, so I’m open to anything as my next bag! As I grow my bag collection, I do want to focus on luxe materials, but I’m mostly ambivalent to the brand it comes from.

Do you have a ‘holy grail’ dream bag you’ve always wanted to own? I’m cliche in that I hope to someday own an Hermès Kelly. The tricky part for me is which one I would want to buy, because I love the idea of a Kelly 25 sellier in a bright color as much as a Kelly 32 retourne in a darker neutral, but even with my new salary I don’t see myself being able to afford more than one.

Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? Each bag holds a different special feeling for me. I love carrying a piece of my mother’s or grandmother’s history with me. I also love how the satin Chanel reminds me of the financial discipline I needed to be able to buy it at the time, and how my Evelyne represents my ability to support myself outside of the financial abuse I grew up surrounded by; they’re my signs that I’ve made it and that I’m going to be okay.

Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? Yes, absolutely. I like to dine solo at more expensive restaurants, and I feel like some of my more expensive bags have loaned me a credibility that my young appearance often calls into question. I otherwise don’t want bags to change friends’ or strangers’ perceptions of me.

How do you take care of your bags? I’m careful with them in that I try to put them in their dustbags, try to avoid the rain or exposure to sunscreen, but I also love wearing them and try not to stress too much. My Chanel has terrible corner wear, which feels like a sin online, but in reality doesn’t bother me. Some of my leather bags have light scratches on the outside or scratched-up interiors, but to me that just makes them look used and loved.

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CC 204

On Shopping

How often do you buy new bags? Whenever I see a good deal on a secondhand site, when the opportunity arises (like the Etoupe Evelyne TPM I hopefully grabbed from the latest Hermès bag drop!), or whenever I have enough in savings and stumble across a beautiful bag in-store. Because I don’t have unlimited income, though, I try to limit the amount I browse in-person or constantly refresh the Hermès site.

Do you prefer shopping for bags online or in-store? Why? I’ve preferred online shopping recently, given the poor inventory in-store in the last few years. I also feel like online shopping provides so much more exposure to beautiful vintage bags that are no longer available in-person.

Which stores do you frequent the most? In DC we have a lovely array of consignment stores, which are probably where I frequent the most – Secondi in DuPont and Ella Rue in Georgetown are my most frequent. Physical stores for the major brands are concentrated further away from where I live, so I go less often, but love to go every few months for a day out on a day off. Online, I look at too many different sites, but Fashionphile is my most frequent – the wishlist feature is a fun way to dream about possible future bag purchases, and inventory is updated often.

Have you ever returned a bag after purchasing it? Why did you make that decision? Yes – I bought a pink espadrille Chanel flap bag in the mid 2010s. I was not thrilled with the quality and condition of the bag (it was pre-loved) relative to the price, so I returned it. Of course, if I had kept it, that same bag now sells for 3x what I paid. 🙂

Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? Yes – Fashionphile and Yoogi’s Closet have been my go-to for secondhand bags. I trust their authentication and condition descriptions the most, though I will always run any Hermès by bababebi.

Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? No. I only sell bags when I haven’t used them for a long time and feel someone else would like to buy them. I recently re-homed a cylindrical Gucci bag and it quickly sold to a new owner who was way more excited than I was to have it!

Do you ever donate or gift your old bags? If so, to whom? All the time! I’ve donated some contemporary brands to thrift stores in the past. More recently, I’ve enjoyed donating my infrequently used bags to my apartment building’s buy-nothing group.

Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? Somewhat – Instagram pushed me toward the Balenciaga Hourglass and the Bottega Padded Cassette a few years ago, but once I held the bags in person, my interest dwindled (a regular Bottega Cassette is still on my radar, though). That experience alone is making me consider pivoting back to more in-store shopping; you can’t feel a bag’s quality or fit for your lifestyle online.

Do you consider your bag purchases investments? Absolutely not, though I like to joke with my partner about how some of my bags have out-performed his investments.

The “investment” idea in general is a bit complicated to me. I’m not sure I need to justify the purchase of something I enjoy as needing to gain monetary value to be worthy. I’ve also seen certain brands co-opt the term as a marketing tool to make bags appear more desirable. Furthermore, it makes me think of the reseller issue plaguing a lot of popular brands – snagging an Hermès bag from the store with the sole purpose of reselling it is a wise monetary investment for the reseller, but it makes the shopping experience for those of us who genuinely enjoy luxury substantially more annoying than it should be. Finally, I enjoy investing in my retirement, so when I think of investments, I think of that separate facet of life.

Do you follow the latest fashion trends when deciding on your next purchase, or do you prefer classic styles? I try to focus on classic-ish styles. With the amount of money these pieces cost, I want to enjoy them for as long as possible.

Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? They are not. To be honest, I’ve been afraid to start a shopping relationship with a Sales Associate. My fear of judgment is strong – even though I know I can afford the items, I dress nicely, I speak politely, and the pain of having been judged in the past is a strong deterrent. When I was at a Neiman Marcus out-of-state recently, one SA explicitly told another SA within earshot to not bother with which dressing room she put me in because I “can’t afford anything” anyway. I’m not sure what it is about me that caused that reaction. Given I only go shopping in person on days when I’m trying to enjoy and relax, it can be discouraging. With how crucial SAs can be in obtaining highly sought-after items, I’ve been trying to build up the courage to try again, but I’m trying to decide if it’s worth it or not.

Do you enjoy shopping beyond just acquiring something new? I do. I worry it might be a problem sometimes, but I don’t have debt outside of my student loans, and I can save more than enough for retirement, so I hope I’m okay.

Outside of that, I enjoy being out and about. It’s fun to get dressed up and make a day out of something.

Have you ever felt you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? Unequivically. I look much younger than I am, which seems to equate to “broke” to some people. On top of that, I’ve noticed that I receive substantially better service when I’m accompanied by a man. Buying something usually makes the inferior service magically disappear, but I try to avoid buying from SAs who treat me poorly.

What are some factors that may dissuade you from buying a bag, even if you like it? I will not buy a bag if I can’t pay for it comfortably and near-immediately. I don’t want more debt besides student loans! I also won’t buy a bag that is high-maintenance – like suede scares me.

Is there a brand you outright refuse to buy? Why? Not really, no. I am open to anything that isn’t blatantly criminal or blatantly poor quality.

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CC 204 6

On Budgeting & Perceptions

Who pays for your bags? All of my bags, with the exception of the Kate Spade Caviar bag I was gifted and my mom’s/grandmother’s hand-me-downs, are purchased by me with my own money. I can only dream of my partner someday becoming a purse husband.

Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? No. I have a high-yield savings account with all money above my emergency fund, free to use for whatever. I just try to be semi-thoughtful about the “whatever.” 🙂

When my partner and I approach marriage and buying a home, this will likely change.

Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? I hate to admit this but yes – and I never thought I would purchase a conterfeit. I wanted to try a style before buying the real bag, so I purchased two counterfeits secondhand (yes, there is a secondhand counterfeit market that is open about the sold bags being counterfeit). I have no clue what the RepLadies mean when they claim replica bags are 1:1, because one of the counterfeits looked completely awful, and the second only looked good for a few uses, after which the hardware coating began to bleed into the “leather.”

I have not bought any since, do not wear them anymore, and refuse to consider buying or wearing counterfeit after following The Fake Birkin Slayer. I do think that in general, more and more Chanel counterfeits will be produced and sold with their rapid price increases and lack of corresponding quality increases.

Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? I may hide amounts, but I don’t hide the purchases. 🙂

Have your friends or family ever criticized your bag-buying habits? If so, how did you respond? No, for which I’m grateful. My mother and grandmother got me into luxury fashion, and even though they no longer buy luxury goods, they appreciate the look and quality of some of the items I wear, and we all bond over it. My partner thinks it’s silly, but since it doesn’t interrupt our financial health/goals, he doesn’t bother me about it.

Have you ever made a significant sacrifice to afford a bag? If so, what was it? No. I want to save for a Kelly at some point, during which I’ll probably dine out less to accommodate, but I’d hesitate to call that significant!

Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? I worry in my heart of hearts that it might be, because some of these items cost a considerable amount of money. I come from a family of shopping addicts and, at times worry that I’m next. But I also have diagnosed and medicated anxiety, so a lot of it feels like just worry. Because I still pay my bills, save for retirement, and don’t have credit card debt, I try to remind myself that I’m okay.

Let’s get personal…

Any other expensive hobbies or passions? I love trying new-to-me restaurants and often lean toward tasting menu spots. I am a regular at a few Bib Gourmands in DC, and once I settle more into my new job, I hope to take monthly or bimonthly weekend dining trips to New York. Travel is the other expensive hobby, but the adult world of PTO (and a global pandemic) has held that hobby in check in more recent years.

What is your greatest fear? No financial safety net. I spent part of my childhood in poverty and don’t want to relive that fear and uncertainty.

Which living person do you most admire? Probably my kind-of mother-in-law (my long-term partner’s mother). She’s the most empathetic person I know. She also works hard, saves money, and really enjoys breaks and time off mindfully, which is something I still struggle with!

What or who is the greatest love of your life? My partner is the greatest love of my life. It’s been a privilege to grow together, and I couldn’t ask for greater support.

What is your favorite journey you have taken so far? Solo traveling Japan is difficult to beat. Food is extraordinarily seasonal and reasonably priced. I could retire in an onsen. Plus, the vintage shopping in Tokyo is unreal!

Any parting words you would like to share with our readers? Not every 26-year-old has a Birkin!! Also, you can be financially healthy and love luxury bags – the two are not mutually exclusive.

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