Where is the QUALITY?? (spinoff re: “Are there any handbags NOT made in China?”)

Oct 17, 2007
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Since this thread is only loosely related to the “made in China” thread, I decided not to derail that thread, but to start a new one. And let me also say from the outset that my intention is not to slam anyone who buys any of the products from the designers I mention below—we all love what we love and I’m not here to judge!

Now, I’m not ancient or anything—but at the risk of dating myself, I’ve been buying designer handbags for 20+ years. And one thing has become patently obvious to me is that across the board, quality is declining precipitously and prices are rising sharply. Not to sound like an old fart—but there really, truly used to be a time when there was a reasonable correlation between paying more for something and getting a better made product. Now? Not so much.

Profit has always been the bottom line for purveyors and manufacturers of goods across the spectrum, but at what point does it just become the raping of consumers? I think we’re getting mighty close. How do businesses increase profit? Here are some ways: outsource; automate; cut corners in materials and workmanship; increase prices; decrease staff/customer service; and cut back on aftermarket support of your products.

ALL of these things are happening within the designer handbag market. Across the board, from lower-priced contemporary designers right up the ladder to premier designers, we’re seeing the effects of these practices. My own experience/familiarity with brands across the spectrum—Coach, D&B, RM, Mulberry, Proenza, Bal, Chanel, and LV come to mind—has borne this out.

Even if you don’t have—for example—a 15 year old Coach or LV bag to compare to a Coach or LV bag of today, all you need to do is read the threads in the respective subforums and you can see these issues for yourself. I’ll definitely acknowledge that some of the designers I mentioned have had ups and downs with quality over the years…but overall, I would argue that there has been (and continues to be) a downward trend. It’s sad to see on subforums threads like “I know that <insert defect/issue/problem here> is a known issue with this $1,000 bag, but I'm still disappointed that I have to live with it”.

Some might argue that prices will rise only to what the market will bear…and that may be true…we’ll have to wait and see. But I for one will not support the absolutely outrageous and frequent price increases seen as of late (LV and Chanel come to mind) that have not come with a commensurate increase in quality—in fact, we’re seeing the opposite.

So, IMHO, outsourcing is but one piece of a much larger puzzle. What can be done about this? I don’t have the answer to the big picture question. For my part, I left behind a long time favored designer this year and made a move to BV. While the prices are certainly high enough to turn them a healthy profit, I’ve been impressed with their quality, customer service, and overall business practices.

I know I’ve probably ruffled a few feathers here and there…so apologies for that (this rant wasn’t meant to be personal to anyone)…but now, the fun part…discuss! :P
 

redskynight

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Sep 10, 2012
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This is why I like lesser known brands, big brands may be able to coast on their reputation but the smaller designers still have to try hard to keep their customers happy. I wouldn't tolerate a $200 bag falling apart but there's lots of $2000 bags with quality problems, its crazy.
 

slowlikehoney

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Feb 12, 2012
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Love this thread! Agree with every single thing you said here.
I've decided to simply boycott any company who does this and have since moved on to lesser or unknown brands with higher quality products. Yes, it feels nice to have a bag with a designer name attached to it, but it's not worth $1000+. Not to me and especially not when they don't have the decency and integrity to actually make a good product and stand by it.
 

Silversun

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Apr 28, 2011
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Some might argue that prices will rise only to what the market will bear&#8230;and that may be true&#8230;we&#8217;ll have to wait and see. But I for one will not support the absolutely outrageous and frequent price increases seen as of late (LV and Chanel come to mind) that have not come with a commensurate increase in quality&#8212;in fact, we&#8217;re seeing the opposite.
IMO that's the crux right there. Price is directly related to market demand. I guess each person has to make their own decision about how much they are willing to pay for the quality of goods they receive. If more and more people take your position and refuse to pay for pricier stuff at lower quality, then the designers will have to adjust something to get people buying again, either by improving quality or by reducing price. As consumers, the only thing that we can do is to vote with our feet. (I'm a recent convert to BV too. :biggrin: ).
 

slowlikehoney

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Oh and I also wanted to say that for me it's not so much where the bag is made, but whether the quality is good/matches the price. I will say that I do worry about the outsourcing as a moral issue because I feel that if it's that much cheaper to have a product made in China vs US or anywhere in Europe then the people making those products are almost surely not getting fair wages for their work. That I really don't like, but aside from making my own clothes or having everything custom made, I'm not sure what I can do about it.
 

Mariapia

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Feb 21, 2012
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IMO that's the crux right there. Price is directly related to market demand. I guess each person has to make their own decision about how much they are willing to pay for the quality of goods they receive. If more and more people take your position and refuse to pay for pricier stuff at lower quality, then the designers will have to adjust something to get people buying again, either by improving quality or by reducing price. As consumers, the only thing that we can do is to vote with our feet. (I'm a recent convert to BV too. :biggrin: ).
I agree 100%
 

jailnurse93

~Heisenberg~
Sep 10, 2012
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Love this thread! Agree with every single thing you said here.
I've decided to simply boycott any company who does this and have since moved on to lesser or unknown brands with higher quality products. Yes, it feels nice to have a bag with a designer name attached to it, but it's not worth $1000+. Not to me and especially not when they don't have the decency and integrity to actually make a good product and stand by it.
YES! It is the same theory that we drive home at the humane society that I volunteer at, except we discourage the buying of pet store dogs! Oh, if you knew the of the puppy mills that they came from:nogood:...... SAD SAD SAD. And why pay 1k+ when you can get a wonderful, loving, dog from the shelter for $80-fully vetted? This has been your humane education anouncement for the day. LOL I know I'm off topic. My brain just does that sometimes. Sorry.
 

papertiger

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I have been buying bags (including no-name vintage) for about 12 years but also inherited plenty of lovely older stuff.

People can buy wisely, even now, but they have to be discerning, they have to know what they are looking at. It should be about the item in-hand not the marketing dream of a brand.
 

Mariapia

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Brands rely on their names...They think the consumer is "snobbish" enough to carry their logos and they are convinced it is going to last..
It won't!
 

jailnurse93

~Heisenberg~
Sep 10, 2012
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I just bought a bag from a Canadian company called Roots. I cannot begin to express to you how wonderful the their leather is!! The prices are very low. As another tPF member posted in another thread, if this company amped up it's hardware, these Roots bags would be runnin' with the big dogs, so to speak. It's great to get a bag that was made in Canada.
I buy a lot of Frye products. Some are made in USA, Mexico, and Columbia. I do try to purchase the items that are made in USA. Frye Campus boot is in the Smithsonian as an American icon yet some of their products are no longer made here:nogood:.
 

slowlikehoney

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YES! It is the same theory that we drive home at the humane society that I volunteer at, except we discourage the buying of pet store dogs! Oh, if you knew the of the puppy mills that they came from:nogood:...... SAD SAD SAD. And why pay 1k+ when you can get a wonderful, loving, dog from the shelter for $80-fully vetted? This has been your humane education anouncement for the day. LOL I know I'm off topic. My brain just does that sometimes. Sorry.
LOL! Don't worry. I get it. The same theory probably goes with lots of different things.
 

slowlikehoney

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Feb 12, 2012
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Brands rely on their names...They think the consumer is "snobbish" enough to carry their logos and they are convinced it is going to last..
It won't!
The sad thing is, they're mostly right and it does work. Snobbish, insecure, unhappy... for whatever reason so many people seem to need that brand name to validate themselves that they are willing to pay a great deal of money for it and sacrifice the quality as well. They've taken that to the bank and they've made a mint!

And I'm not even saying I'm above all of that. I just refuse to let it rule my decision making process. In the end I just can't spend that kind of money irrationally. My father's daughter.
 
Oct 17, 2007
317
3
Thank you all for your replies!!

I totally agree that there are plenty of “under the radar” bag manufacturers that produce a superior product at a low price…and that got me thinking.

Why did I start buying designer bags in the first place? And how in the world did I get to a place where paying $2,000+ for a bag is (pretty easily) justifiable in my mind? As long as I can remember, I’ve just loved bags. I think I inherited this from my grandmother, who was also a bag lover (thanks, Gram!:lolots:smile:.

I started small—I still have the first “designer” bag my Gram bought me (a bright blue Liz Claiborne—about $50 and mostly plastic, FYI—from the late 80’s/early 90’s). Then I stepped up to Coach. Why? Because in my mind, higher cost = better quality. Then on to Botkier…RM...LV…you see where this is going. Each step of the way, consciously or subconsciously, I equated spending more with getting more/better quality. I clearly remember the day I walked into the boutique and bought my first LV—it was almost a religious experience (in my mind, I was all like “I HAVE ARRIVED!!!” :yahoo:).

And I think, for a while anyway, the extra money I was spending WAS getting me better quality (my 1st LV was an Alma, I paid $860 or $870 and she has worn like iron)…but at some point that stopped being true (and I’m not picking on LV here—just giving an example).

I’m definitely guilty of paying for brand recognition at times—which is fine, IMHO, as long as the quality is there and the brand has integrity (i.e. if a piece of hardware just randomly falls off of my $2k bag a month after I own it, you better DAMN WELL fix that **** for free :censor:smile:. Sadly, this quality/integrity is getting harder and harder to find—at any price point—as high profit margins are king and we are becoming a disposable society.

OK—part 2 of my rant over. Stay tuned—part 3 will probably happen soon! :roflmfao:
 

slowlikehoney

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WOW! We must be separated at birth. My first was also a Liz Claiborne from the late 80s, mostly plastic, bought for me by my grandmother, who was also a bag lover. HA!