What indicates a high quality bag?

May 16, 2020
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Based on what I'm reading, designer or high price doesn't necessarily indicate quality in a purse.
So what does?
What can an inexperienced person look for when looking at a new bag that will indicate this is good quality vs overpriced garbage?
What does high quality leather look like feel like (hard to know w so many varieties of leather)?
How do I know if it's stitched well?
What else do I look for?
Till now I just bought bags that look cute/pretty but I think that's not very wise, especially when I'm looking for a more expensive & long lasting one.
 
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leechiyong

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Sep 3, 2013
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There's so many things and different designers prioritize different aspects. It's a scale to me. The more indicators of quality, the more the price tends to go up.

Beyond a lot of shopping, I've learned a good deal from watching content from Peter Nitz. He's a top-tier, hand-stitched leather goods manufacturer. While very few brands are at the level of quality he is, it gives an idea of quality indicators to look for and one can assess from there what compromises they're willing to accept at various price points. For example for myself, if I'm buying a $5000 bag, the edge paint should be cleaned up and filed between coats, but if it's a $500 bag, I'm not going to expect this.
 
Feb 9, 2019
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Well, I'm not too experienced myself since I haven't been collecting handbags for very long, and I am on the learning curve here as well. :smile:

That said, for me, good quality is the sum total of several factors such as the look and feel of the leather or material being used, even, firm, sturdy stitching with no signs of loose threads, well done corners that are not easily prone to wear, neatly aligned flaps, zippers that run smoothly -- the list can go on. Basically, it's the attention to details, and the care that has been taken while making the bag -- to me, this indicates a quality product, and one that will hopefully stand up to regular use without having issues (other than those that may arise from normal wear and tear).

I also wanted to add that I have found it very helpful to read about a bag that I am potentially interested in adding to my collection. The sub-forums here often have a lot of information by other posters who have used the bag, including discussions about any quality issues that have arisen, etc., and this information is really useful while making purchase decisions.
 
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JenJBS

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Sep 22, 2019
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If it's possible where you live, I'd go to the high end boutiques or high end departments stores. Feel the leather on the different brands. My favorite leathers are Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga calfskin or chevre, The Row nappa, Ferragamo, Givenchy, Fount, and Polene. Also good are Mansur Gavriel and Marc Jacobs. The more high quality leather you can get your hands on, the easier it will be to recognize low quality leather that doesn't feel the same. The stitching should be even and straight. The logo should be evenly spaced (if multiple letters) and centered. If possible, find out if the leather is dyed or painted (don't always trust the sales person - they may not know; so I'd check online reviews). Dyed is much better quality, imo. Also doing a Google image search for the bag and looking at the pictures of the used bags can give you an idea of how well the bag holds up over time.
 
May 16, 2020
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This is very helpful, thank you all.
How do you assess how the corners & straps will wear over time?
I've gone into ferragamo but find their leather bags very heavy for me, even empty.

I learned the hard way about color transfer onto a white bag & corner wear (luckily it was a coach outlet bag so not expensive, but still bothered me.)
I had no idea about not keeping shoes & bags in a closet near a sunny window & again learned the hard way about suede fading, leather yellowing or blistering.
So now I'm trying to get more educated.

I love my RL Ricky patent leather bag, but tbh idk how to assess if it is really high quality, or just looks really pretty & costs 3k.
They say it's handmade in Italy, lined with lambskin, the stitching looks nice to me. So are those good indicators it's a good quality bag?

Then again, I have a few Michael Kors ones, that look ok to my untrained eyes, and I feel stupid not knowing why those are lower quality than RL .
 

Christofle

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This is very helpful, thank you all.
How do you assess how the corners & straps will wear over time?
I've gone into ferragamo but find their leather bags very heavy for me, even empty.

I learned the hard way about color transfer onto a white bag & corner wear (luckily it was a coach outlet bag so not expensive, but still bothered me.)
I had no idea about not keeping shoes & bags in a closet near a sunny window & again learned the hard way about suede fading, leather yellowing or blistering.
So now I'm trying to get more educated.

I love my RL Ricky patent leather bag, but tbh idk how to assess if it is really high quality, or just looks really pretty & costs 3k.
They say it's handmade in Italy, lined with lambskin, the stitching looks nice to me. So are those good indicators it's a good quality bag?

Then again, I have a few Michael Kors ones, that look ok to my untrained eyes, and I feel stupid not knowing why those are lower quality than RL .
If your MK are “Michael Kors collection” bags then there might not be a huge difference from your Ralph Lauren Ricky.

The non-collection bags usually have fabric linings, are made in the Far East, have thinner leather and is often treated split grain rather than full grain. The hardware isn’t brass and is mostly a coloured base metal.
 
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May 16, 2020
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I can't remember if they're collection or not tbh. They're a bit "fancier" so I don't use them regularly. (One has velvet & leather, the other is snakeskin). I believe both are leather lining.

How would I assess the type of leather on a future bag (like you said split grain) & if the hardware is brass?
Would you say the Ricky is a good quality?
 

Christofle

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Apr 21, 2011
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I can't remember if they're collection or not tbh. They're a bit "fancier" so I don't use them regularly. (One has velvet & leather, the other is snakeskin). I believe both are leather lining.

How would I assess the type of leather on a future bag (like you said split grain) & if the hardware is brass?
Would you say the Ricky is a good quality?
I think so! When I was visiting the flagship on Rodeo, I was quite impressed with the finishing. They also had thick smoosh-y leather and the hardware felt pretty substantial.

They had lovely crocodile and ostrich variations too.
 
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Diva_k3000

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May 24, 2018
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Feel the quality of the leather. Does it feel cheap and plastic-y? (I can’t stand patent leather.) Does it appear to be generally well-constructed? Now, it doesn’t necessarily matter if it’s stiff or floppy—both can be high quality. I personally prefer more structured bags that hold their shape, but floppy bags can be fun too! This doesn’t reflect on the quality of the leather.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING is to evaluate the stitching of the bag. Is the stitching even? Does it feel sturdy or is there some give at the seams? Are any stitches already loose and/or popped? Is there double or triple stitching at the highest stress points? It’s often difficult to tell the type of thread, but make sure it is sewn with a sturdy thread. The stitching is what literally holds your bag together.
 
May 16, 2020
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So I'm more confused now.
I took the advice and got to examine a few different bags in some boutiques .
The BV bags were not my style, but the leather was amazing. Thick, plush & glossy.
It felt like high quality leather.

However, some other "high end" bags did not seem high quality. At all.

The clasp was crooked on a bag from another brand (that was mentioned as being high quality) I looked at. The leather felt even thinner and less soft than the coach outlet bag I was carrying; the strap looked like it was about to tear any moment & the lining looked like the cheapest leather.

I later examined my outlet bag & yes it's lined with fabric and has corner wear; but otherwise it's in excellent shape after years of heavy use. The strap edges are all still perfectly finished with the black sealer (not sure what it's called sorry), the stitching is perfect, no scratches on any hardware. And this is a lower level outlet bag.
So again, I'm puzzled why ferragamo/fendi/etc is known as high quality but coach is lesser? What am I not understanding?
 

Diva_k3000

Member
May 24, 2018
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So I'm more confused now.
I took the advice and got to examine a few different bags in some boutiques .
The BV bags were not my style, but the leather was amazing. Thick, plush & glossy.
It felt like high quality leather.

However, some other "high end" bags did not seem high quality. At all.

The clasp was crooked on a bag from another brand (that was mentioned as being high quality) I looked at. The leather felt even thinner and less soft than the coach outlet bag I was carrying; the strap looked like it was about to tear any moment & the lining looked like the cheapest leather.

I later examined my outlet bag & yes it's lined with fabric and has corner wear; but otherwise it's in excellent shape after years of heavy use. The strap edges are all still perfectly finished with the black sealer (not sure what it's called sorry), the stitching is perfect, no scratches on any hardware. And this is a lower level outlet bag.
So again, I'm puzzled why ferragamo/fendi/etc is known as high quality but coach is lesser? What am I not understanding?
You just learned a very valuable lesson. I regard Coach as a high quality brand. Their leather is great and they hold up well. Some people in these forums don’t think highly of Coach because they’re snobs and Coach isn’t as expensive as Fendi or Ferragamo.

Dooney and Bourke is another one of the brands that many on these forums dismiss because they’re not “premiere” brands (or prices) but you’ll see they’re excellent quality. I would also put Fossil in this category of “good bang for your buck” brands. You can get an excellent quality bag without paying thousands of dollars if you’re not concerned with impressing people with how expensive your bag is.
 

Greenredapple

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Nov 9, 2018
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901
So I'm more confused now.
I took the advice and got to examine a few different bags in some boutiques .
The BV bags were not my style, but the leather was amazing. Thick, plush & glossy.
It felt like high quality leather.

However, some other "high end" bags did not seem high quality. At all.

The clasp was crooked on a bag from another brand (that was mentioned as being high quality) I looked at. The leather felt even thinner and less soft than the coach outlet bag I was carrying; the strap looked like it was about to tear any moment & the lining looked like the cheapest leather.

I later examined my outlet bag & yes it's lined with fabric and has corner wear; but otherwise it's in excellent shape after years of heavy use. The strap edges are all still perfectly finished with the black sealer (not sure what it's called sorry), the stitching is perfect, no scratches on any hardware. And this is a lower level outlet bag.
So again, I'm puzzled why ferragamo/fendi/etc is known as high quality but coach is lesser? What am I not understanding?
Well there is the footwear and the accessories. If i can find a brand that offers high quality and durable footwear, handbags, silks, slgs and so on, then I am sold. I was drawn originally to Ferragamo because of their shoes. And it's known as a shoe brand. I don't know many premier shoe brand that offers different widths. My first Vara pair is still looking good after so many years.

Back to handbags. My thoughts. I like the option of choosing between smooth and grained leather. I also love suede. I have liked their wicker bags design in the past. From what I have read their croc leather bags are good quality. If course it's not everyone's cup of tea, but to my understanding, if you want to compete in the premier league then the brand "has" to make croc/alligator leathers goods.

I own several Ferragamo's items, from patent to soft lambskin. I am not that excited over their latest offerings and I wish they would rely less on Vara bows and such. But for the most part I am a happy with Ferragamo's quality, but this does not mean that I am not picky or not critical. These luxury items are still expensive. A lot of the items that the premier brands offer are very fashion forward. And not necessarily always high quality....

As for the price tags and the perceptions of premier luxury. I can always appreciate a well made leather bags no matter the price (enough to garner profit and provide a living if we're talking about indie designer/artisans. It can be expensive or mid range. I have liked the designs of D&B in the past. I especially like their florentine collection. To my understanding they are made in partnership with workshops in Italy. One was boldrini sellaria. As for coach. I like their quality but have not found a design to my liking yet.

I think it really boils down to personal preferences. I think it's sad to judge another according to what the other persons chooses to wear. We should wear what we like.
 
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lovieluvslux

That bag is fine!
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Oct 17, 2010
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I agree with you. Quality does not mean fancy designer label = quality. In fact, it can be the opposite. I've seen beautiful Chanel bags with iridescent calf skin leather that are very thin and resin handles that can crack or break with stress. I used to own a In The Mix Tote, and it had no feet at the bottom. The leather was soft, squishy and iridescent calf, but not quality. I ran into a coworker from who lived back east and used her daily. It was beaten up and showed much damage from the elements. I was intending to use as a daily bag. I decided to sell that bag... Now I want bags that are more structured and long lasting especially if I buy premier designer.

When I think of quality, 1980's circa Donney and Bourke bags were the best. I have a split leather, pebbled grained satchel that looks brand new. I've thrown that bag around, stuffed it, and kept it empty w/o stuffing. The structure and leather is quality. You would need saw like scissors to cut that bag - perhaps you could cut the strap, but not the bag.

I recently returned a pre-loved reissue in distressed leather. I couldn't deal with the leather as it would have signs of wear.. b/c it's distressed leather which is treated either manually and/or chemically. That particular bag was not quality to me.



Dooney and Bourke is another one of the brands that many on these forums dismiss because they’re not “premiere” brands (or prices) but you’ll see they’re excellent quality. I would also put Fossil in this category of “good bang for your buck” brands. You can get an excellent quality bag without paying thousands of dollars if you’re not concerned with impressing people with how expensive your bag is.
[/QUOTE]
 

leechiyong

Member
Sep 3, 2013
10,504
14,258
So I'm more confused now.
I took the advice and got to examine a few different bags in some boutiques .
The BV bags were not my style, but the leather was amazing. Thick, plush & glossy.
It felt like high quality leather.

However, some other "high end" bags did not seem high quality. At all.

The clasp was crooked on a bag from another brand (that was mentioned as being high quality) I looked at. The leather felt even thinner and less soft than the coach outlet bag I was carrying; the strap looked like it was about to tear any moment & the lining looked like the cheapest leather.

I later examined my outlet bag & yes it's lined with fabric and has corner wear; but otherwise it's in excellent shape after years of heavy use. The strap edges are all still perfectly finished with the black sealer (not sure what it's called sorry), the stitching is perfect, no scratches on any hardware. And this is a lower level outlet bag.
So again, I'm puzzled why ferragamo/fendi/etc is known as high quality but coach is lesser? What am I not understanding?
I love Coach; they offer incredibly sturdy bags and do the basics incredibly well. True high-end brands offer subtle nuances in the detail. They'll do things like file the edge paint between layers so it's not so thick or spend the time to hand-stitch the bag. The lines that offer these types of details though are few and far between and often the price goes up exponentially when they do.

Most premier brands lean heavily on the design instead. I have no problem with this. As much as the functionality is important, I collect bags because they spark something in me. I recognize sometimes I'm paying mostly for the marketing, but if I love it, I'm not going to let it deter me.

Also keep in mind that quality doesn't equal durability. A synthetic scarf will last longer and require less maintenance, but a silk scarf is higher quality. Bags and leathers are the same way. Just because the leather is thicker doesn't mean it's higher quality.

That said, if you're content with Coach, why pay the premium for bags for which you don't care as much?