KarenDee on Artissan Square posted a question about what types of bags go well with Lagenlook. I suspect lots of styles do, but as Karen is such a lovely person who ALWAYS has something nice, kind and encouraging to say to everyone, I thought I would take the opportunity here to talk about the bags I like to use and show some photos too. After all, descriptions only go so far.
First of all, there is such a thing as personal preference. Not everyone likes the same styles, and a good thing too! I like simplicity, and never more so than with handbags. At least on the outside. On the inside I like to have a variety of pockets, so I can find my mobile, keys etc easily. I also like to have a zip up pocket for the times when I carry something I can’t afford to lose, such as an important receipt or maybe my passport or other critical paperwork.
Then there is size. Yes, for me, size does matter! Some people like small cross-body bags, and that’s perfectly ok, but I like BIG. Not so big that it crosses the pain threshold, aka you catch your bag on displayed items in shops all the time which then crash to the ground, but close.
I have never quite got into making my own bags, somehow I’m just not attracted to that kind of sewing. Possibly because there are so much fiddlly hardware and specialised supplies necessary for a professional look, which are not easy to come by. More likely though because I have been visiting Beijing once a year for the last few years, and let me tell you, Beijing is Handbag Central on the global handbag map. (Possibly all of China is, but I only get to go to Beijing.)
I would say that very little of what is on offer there, in the markets where I like to shop, would be actual leather, or has ever been within cooee of a cow, pig or sheep. Don’t be fooled by sales assistants whipping out a cigarette lighter and holding a flame to the bag, it still isn’t leather. That does not really bother me, I am quite happy with a vegan handbag, and the knowledge that no poor creature had to lay down its life for my accessories makes me feel rather virtuous. There is no issue with breathability or wearing comfort with handbags, and as long as the fake leather does not actually look like fake leather I have no problem. And let my tell you, you really can’t tell. DDIL used to work for Coach, and the leather of her super expensive bag looked more fake than my fake one. Go figure.
However, quality is an issue. I have noticed that the general workmanship has rather deteriorated in the markets, which I am not too happy about. I am told that there are back rooms in shops where the prices are higher and the quality is better, but I am not sufficiently in the know to have access to those. For the moment I am content to keep my eyes open and check the stitching carefully when buying.
The markets I go to are the Pearl Market, Yashow Market and the Silk Market. The latter is the most expensive, but the merchandise is more upmarket and the quality is generally better, although I have seen poor stitching there too. Yashow is where the locals shop, and therefore the cheapest, and the Pearl Market would be somewhere in between. You have to bargain quite fiercely at all of these markets. Fortunately I have quite a lot of practice, as I have lived in the Middle East and have also travelled quite a lot in Asia. I probably still pay a little more than the locals, but that’s ok.
None of these bags have cost more than around $20. A careful look by a knowledgeable fashion buyer would no doubt reveal them as fakes of whatever designer brand they purport to be, but I am not fussed. On the whole they have help up well after a couple of years use and they are cheap enough to replace at the first sign of wear.