Article reproduced from fashion magazine Her World, Sept 2005
What do you all think about this? I know many of us have purchased "it" bags, but do you agree or disagree with what was said- can a bag change how people view you or is it just materialistic?How an It bag changed my life
If you are in deep need for some Venus envy, hang a beautiful new designer bag on your arms. Its the fastest route to respect from women, as RUTH CHEW quickly finds out
You dont need an Oxbridge degree, a million-dollar trust fund or a Nobel Peace Prize to earn the respect of women these days. Just head out to the shops and buy yourself a designer bag. Better yet, make it the It bag of the season.
Call me shallow but Ive found its my shortcut to earning a few knowing looks of approval from women all around. After all, I dont have an Ivy League education nor a fat bank account. Ive made no scholarly breakthrough discoveries nor do I have success stories with a chain of food shops or online businesses to shout about. The respect Ive earned lately is purely from my choice of bag.
I discovered this after I bought my first designer bag. A seasonal piece on sale over Christmas, it had a signature print from the brands Spring collection. Despite being a seasonal item, the bags famous shape and print caught the eye of every women whose nose I swung it under.
Getting the It bag is like scoring a coveted piece of jewellery or obtaining a limited edition Vertu mobile phone. Much like kids in the playground, when children get envious of one anothers special toys, having a bag in high demand is equivalent to getting your hands on the special edition 12-inch Star Wars collectible.
As someone without a fashion background, I am used to women ignoring me and my opinions on fashion. What does someone like me know about, say, the current Autumn/Winter voluminous skirt?, I can see them thinking.
But things changed after I bought the bag. Suddenly everyone wanted my opinion on the latest runway collections. Others volunteer information on new arrivals at the stores.
I dont know what it is that elevated my status in their eyes was it the beautiful leather accents on the bag which made me appear to be slightly put-together? Or was it the fact that the bag reeked of money spent (very foolishly, my husband would remind me sometimes) and that made me seem affluent, well-read and almost stylish?
Think of it like men and their cars. Say an average Joe acquires a new fast, powerful runner of a car like a sporty BMW or Ferrari. His friends would automatically look at him in a different light and even put him on a pedestal as someone with taste (and a lot of money to splurge).
Jennifer, my well-heeled friend, has noticed how often her limited-edition Lulu Guinness in violet has broken the ice for her, turning strangers who like labels into friends. She says: Your bag is a reflection of your personal sense of style.
My close friend Fiona got her first It bag recently. She tells me the looks she gets now from women in the office are different. Its as if Ive found the cure for cancer or something. Everyones oohing and aaahing at it, and the female colleagues who never used to chat with me about clothes, bags and shoes, are now talking to me, she shares. Shes reached handbag nirvana where her quick fingers and a swipe of a credit card gained her secret entry to a circle of modish women.
Not who you know but
Whod have thought that, these days, its not what youve accomplished nor who youve become, but what you carry, that earns you respect. I always thought respect is earned with hard works, sound values or a successful career, but judging from my recent experience, it seems that admiration is easier to achieve just by carrying the right accessory. But hey, if the shoe fits, or in this case, if the bag does, why not?
Just how did things get this shallow, or worse, this easy? Basically, it seems that a good designer bag represents the finer things in life. Like wine connoisseurs who can tell, from a whiff of a cork, which region of France the wine comes from, someone carrying a designer bag looks as if they can tell the difference between mass market and quality.
To leave no room for doubt, all It-bag ladies advise that you bone up on everything you need to know about your accessory.
Understanding how many steps it takes to make the Chanel Ligne Cambon (last years bag du jour for Spring, by the way) is equivalent to getting a PhD in cardiology..well, almost.
My girlfriend Debbie, the proud owner of a few Louis Vuitton bags, explains in a litany: Some brands like Hermes and Louis Vuitton only choose leather that is flawless. The animal skin doesnt have a pimple scar or even a mosquito bite on it. Such quality bags are classic and last forever because of the intricate work that goes on behind the scenes. The woman who can appreciate this is most likely the one who has a certain air of style and fashion sense.
Your research should go way beyond just reading whats in the catalogue, she adds
You must fully grasp the history of a fashion house or the inspiration of the design, Debbie warns.
Oh, so now it goes beyond the brand, its history, the inspiration behind the design, the price tag and even how its made. Whats really the connection between all this deep reading and your bags cache?
Fiona has a theory to quell this confusion: Think of your handbag as your country club membership. If you have the right one, then youve earned your place in a high-flyers club.
Why hadnt I thought of that? All it takes is a little research into the collections from Gucci, Prada, Chanel, Salvatore Ferragamo and all those other big names, pick and invest money in the right bag, and I would forever be held in esteem.
Or would I? How long does forever last in this fickle world of fashion? Unlike a scientific discovery, which you can make money from, handbags are a different kind of asset.
Just as each season comes and goes, so do It bags. Each It bag will have its day in the limelight before it gives way to the next It bag. Unlike the classics like Hermes Birkin or Kelly, Louis Vuittons Speedy and even the relaunched Chanel 2.55, which have maintained their cult status from the time they were introduced till today, most other It bags share only a short moment of glory.
Unless you buy a classic, youre probably looking at six months worth of respect before the next It bag comes along to dethrone yours. And for the average girl-next-door, thats like investing a months pay on an item that will not earn you an interest financially, that is.
But I think of it differently; Say you buy a bag at $3,000. Spread that over six months and its an affordable $500 a month. If you can stretch it out for a year, it comes up to just $250 a month. Most women spend twice as much on spa visits and clothes to keep their image up to date.
Think about it. Instant respect. And my It bag earns me more respect than my HDB flat, without having to take out a 15-year loan for it. When you put it like that, it doesnt seem too far-fetched an idea for an investment does it?
For now, Ive got only the one designer handbag and have to spin it out for as long as I can. I am sober enough to realize that itll be another six months before I can afford the next one. So till then, Ill be doing my research, by leafing through magazines, look books, window-shopping and putting money aside in my piggy bank. To steal a tagline from a famous ad, It bag: $3000. Respect: Priceless.