Handbag is the essential accessory in every women wardrobe. We put our handbags through so much wear and tear therefore its important to choose a high quality handbag that would fit with your lifestyle.
In the recent years handbags have become a status symbol. A handbag with a designer label has become a craze so most designer brands now offer very affordable but lower quality option to profit from this trend. Simply basing your purchasing decision based on a brand is no longer a profitable option. So how do you separate an investment peace that will stand the test of time from a bag that will give way in a few months?
01. The Type & Quality of Leather
Classic Animal Leather:
There are many types and qualities of leather in the market. Many people associate durability with natural leather. This is not always the case. It depends on the quality of the quality of the leather. So what’s premium quality leather and how to spot it?
Premium quality leather refers to full-grain or top-grain leather which are derived from the top layer of the hide. These hides have fewer imperfections such as blemishes scars or other marks. Premium leather is stronger and more durable than low quality leather. It’s manufactured with a lot of care. The tanning process of premium leather utilizes natural or vegetable-based tanning agents. This process helps preserve the leather's natural characteristics, such as its strength, grain, and ability to age gracefully. Low-quality leather may be processed with cheaper and harsher chemicals that can compromise the leather's quality and longevity.
High-quality leather develops a desirable patina over time, showcasing its natural grain and character. As it ages, it tends to become softer and gain a unique charm. On the other hand, low-quality leather may deteriorate quickly, showing signs of cracking, peeling, or fading instead of developing an attractive patina.
Opt for Plant Based Leather:
But natural leather is not a sustainable resource, the animal rearing and tanning process used in the leather production is incredibly polluting. Killing for fashion is cruel and unnecessary. Especially when there are many other excellent alternatives in the market today.
Plant based Leather is made of natural fibers such as cactus and pineapple leaves, apple peals, cork or corn. These fibers are often combined with a binding agent or a natural polymer to create plant based leather. These leathers avoid the use of animal products, making it a cruelty-free and good vegan alternative. Additionally, it reduces the environmental impact associated with the traditional leather industry, which involves the rearing of livestock and the use of chemicals in the tanning process
Cactus and apple leather are two of our favourite plant based leathers. This is because they look feel behave similar to animal leather so they lend to the creation of elegant and stylish handbags and wallets. They also score high on durability. We have covered plant based leather in detail in our prior blog posts. If your intrigued by this relatively new and vey innovative new material group please consult our blog post on cactus leather or the post on vegan leather alternatives.
Choose a Coated Canvas:
Coated canvas is typically made from a blend of cotton and synthetic fibers, coated with a layer of PVC or polyurethane. Coated canvas is well known for its durability, water resistance. Coated canvas is the material of choice in most iconic LV bags.
Avoid Synthetic Leather (PU and PVC):
Synthetic leather, also known as faux leather is an artificial alternative to natural leather. It can be made from materials such as polyurethane (PU) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Synthetic leather offers a wide range of colours, textures, and finishes. It is generally more affordable than other varieties of high quality leather. However, it is not as durable or biodegradable as other materials discussed above. Also the production process is extremely harmful to the environment.
02. Pay Attention to the Craftsmanship:
Determining the quality of craftsmanship in a handbag can take a bit of practice and experience. But by using the below tips you will be able to expertly recognise good quality construction from the rest.
High-quality handbags will have even and tight stitching with no loose threads. The thread should also match the colour of the material and be strong enough to hold the bag together without breaking or fraying.
The edges of the bag should be smooth and finished, with no rough or jagged edges. Leather edges may be painted, burnished or folded, and should not show any glue marks.
The lining of the bag should be well-fitted and even, with no bunching or puckering. The lining should also be made of a durable and high-quality material that is unlikely to tear or wear out quickly.
03. Check the Hardware:
The hardware such such as zippers, buckles, and clasps can speak volumes about the quality of bag. Its ver easy to spot a low quality zipper. They will not operate smoothly. Where as a good quality zipper (or buckles, and clasps) will operate smoothly without any any catches or jams. Most high end handbag brands would etch or engrave their names in the hardware.
04. Price and Manufacturer:
Some destinations such as Italy, France and Spain are renown for quality handbag and shoe manufacturing. So where possible opt for a Made in Italy (or France/ Spain) handbag. Keep in mind that some of the handbags may be mostly produced elsewhere and the finishing touches added in Italy. So try to avoid large scale retailers and opt for a smaller brands that originate from these countries.
Also price is a good indication of the quality of a handbag. Good quality animal or plant based leather is expensive and the cost of production using artisan leather manufacturers is also very high. Don’t be surprised if a reasonably priced, good quality handbag sets you back a couple of hundred Euro. A bag made with love and care is worth the investment.
Checking reviews and feedback from other customers can give a good indication of the quality of craftsmanship. Also check the comments on their social media and see how the company reacts to complaints. This will give you and indication of the level of after care they supply.
Remember quality is in the details so take your time making the purchasing decision. Always shop consciously, buy less, choose well and make it last.
Photo by Martin Blanquer at unsplash