Just wanted to introduce myself. I’m a guy, married, we’re in our mid-fifties and live in NYC.
It all started because one of my wife’s bags, a early 1990s Dooney and Bourke Teton, started looking ragged, after all these years. So I went looking for a replacement on eBay. And went nuts. And found this place. But that’s a story for another day.
My wife came here from another country when she was a young girl and has never wanted to spend much on clothes. I guess that makes me lucky. She’s a saver, I’m more of a spender. But as the years passed and we’ve gone from pretty broke to pretty OK I’ve wanted to see her acquire and wear better stuff, and since she still is uncomfortable spending money on clothes and stuff, I’ve been doing it for her. We both work and make about the same money.
Myself, I pretty much try and lower the dress code wherever I go. As a typical guy, when I find what I like, I buy it in bulk. Every year I’ll buy six pairs of Levi 505s for the winter, a dozen or so Lands End cotton polo shirts, and some cotton walking shorts from the Territory Ahead for the summer. I will admit to a small collection of Jhane Barnes shirts though. (This is good, right? More money to spend on the wife).
As far as bags, she’s been carrying the same Coach New York City bags, a couple of Dooney & Bourke bags, (all bought new in the 1980s and 1990s), and a couple of other things that have popped up here and there. It’s a testament to the quality of these American-made bags that they are still holding up all these years.
I’m a collector. So when I come here and read about your bag ‘collections’ I totally get it! I’ve collected mechanical cameras, photographic monographs, signed first editions, Arts and Crafts pottery, and so on. Building a meaningful collection is never something to feel guilty about.
I’m partners in a business that does some light manufacturing. So I know what it takes to make stuff, and I like well made stuff. I can fully appreciate a nice bag, or a nice pair of shoes, or an old all metal camera. I’m into value. To me, value is not about the price, it’s about what’s in the price. Show me some beautiful leather or skin, solid metal hardware, and a great design, with beautiful stitching, made by craftspeople in the US or Europe, and what a lot of people would consider expensive, I get it. Within reason.
That’s why I like those ‘vintage’ Coach and Dooney bags that seem not all that popular here, but in my mind they are terrific values, especially today. New Coach and Dooney? Some printed fabric with some leather trim? Not feeling it. Not at these prices. On the other hand, I totally get Hermes bags. I wouldn’t say that they don’t deliver value. They do. Especially if you buy them right :-)
Last Christmas I bought my wife a pair of those Gucci python shoes that are in my avatar. Expensive, but they were half off. I just love the quality and craftsmanship and materials in those shoes. I just ordered a pair of those Prada ‘flame’ shoes because they are just so beautiful and well made. And Christmas is coming, I hear.
Like I said I’m a book collector and a bit of a dealer and I read a lot. In the past couple of years I’ve read a couple of books about fashion that really had an influence on me.
The first was ‘Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster’, by Dana Thomas. The blurb reads, in part: ‘Luxury wasn't simply a product, it was a lifestyle, one that denoted a history of tradition, superior quality and offered a pampered buying experience. Today's luxury marketplace would be virtually unrecognizable to its founders. Gone are the family-owned businesses dedicated to integrity and quality; the industry is now run by multi-billion dollar global corporations focused on growth, visibility, brand-awareness, advertising and above all, profits. Handcrafted goods are practically extinct, and almost all manufacturing has been outsourced to large factories in such places as China, where your expensive brand-name handbag is being assembled right next to one from a mass-market label that will cost substantially less.’
If you look at the book on Amazon, you can read the entire opening chapter. The book crystallized a lot for me, and made me understand the counterfeit industry and the difference between some ‘vintage’ products and their current lower quality incarnations.
And yet while the book sounds overwhelmingly negative, it’s not. For me it had a positive influence as it went through the histories of many of the great fashion houses (LV, Chanel, Hermes, Prada, etc.) and spoke in great detail of the loving care with which many of these products were made, and still are made.
Another book I read around the same time was ‘Bringing Home the Birkin: My Life in Hot Pursuit of the World's Most Coveted Handbag’. A quirky but fun book, it’s about a man who traveled the world (mostly Hermes boutiques) in search of Birkins that he bought to re-sell to private collectors and on eBay. It too took an exhaustive look at the history of Hermes and how and why the Birkin got to be so desirable.
Also, until recently we lived in a quiet but young area of Brooklyn, and a woman with a long background in fashion opened up a small consignment store. We went in regularly and she taught us quite a bit, and has excellent taste (Mae’s Vintage, if you happen to be in Brooklyn).
So, I hope you didn’t get too bored reading this. I look forward to dropping in and checking out what you like, why you like it, and how you can get it for less :-)
Welcome. I very much enjoyed reading your post. You are well spoken.
I look forward to seeing more of your adventures. People on this forum know their stuff and are very well informed. I have learned a lot being on here for the past year.
I also enjoyed your post and agree with everything you said. Value vs. Luxury/Price. It's a dying concept and I've also been carefully watching the phenomenon. Also been collecting vintage Coach myself and am falling in love all over again with Coach, but not feeling the newer stuff either.
I have read the Birkin book and also enjoyed it, but I haven't read the other one. I might have to pick it up now, though!
Welcome Denton.... Good to have you here...
Your post was great to read (I would love to be able to have more time [eventually] to actually post on TPF [more frequently] regarding some of the things you mentioned above--and at some point I will especially to share thoughts/ideas, etc with our lovely fellow TPF'ers/friends made here...but for now--its super that you started this thread).
And please--do drop by anytime with your interesting and informative thoughts, kay...
It is such a pleasure to have you here. I did read some of your posts before and always like the way you express yourself. I feel like I know you a little bit already. You did not have an easy life, but you have such a positive outlook after all.
You always have such a nice way to give an advise, some recommendations. Great to have you here!