I had an extremely interesting childhood. In this post, I’ll focus solely on the events that did not require therapy. I grew up in a pretty poor household. We thrifted EVERYTHING, before thrifting was cool. Yet I had access to extreme luxuries. My grandemere owned a home on Capitol Hill, one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Washington, DC. I would spend my weekends and summers there, which felt worlds away from our apartment in SE, D.C. Ma grandmere et tante would clean the homes of very wealthy family’s in the Capital Hill neighborhood and I willingly tagged along.
Original Georgia O’Keeffe paintings, Socrates and Sartre collectors hardbacks, Mont Blanc pens, Waterford China, and Louis Vuitton luggage. At ten-years old I had zero clue what any of those things meant but I saw them and I knew I wanted them.
My first non-discount store “designer” purchase was a Kate Spade handbag. For MONTHS I researched and saved portions of my funeral home apprenticeship paycheck for what was to date, my most expensive nonessential purchase. When I finally made the $350.00 leap (yes, I had to save for that) I felt unstoppable! With my new designer bag, my used Mazda 3 Hatchback and a full cup-o-Foldger’s (this was life before I could afford fancy caffeinated drinks) I had places to go and people to see. As time and my salary begin to progress, those fond childhood memories of luxury items began to peak my interest. After completing my second degree (BS, Public Health and Safety/ Minor en Francais) I was gifted a Louis Vuitton Damier Neverfull MM. I swear I transcended the moment those freakishly thin yet sturdy straps touched my shoulder. Every time I reached inside to grab my oyster girl lip-gloss (#tbt) seeing the “Made in France” tag transported me. From that point forward I was HOOKED.
I always knew that I wanted a Chanel purse. But I also knew that there was no way I was willing to pay that much money on a purse prior to purchasing a home. I told myself that once I saved enough money to buy my first home, I would treat myself to a jumbo flap for a monumental job well done. After purchasing my first home (yay, me) I spent almost a year trying to find the perfect Chanel flap. There were so many decisions to make. Double flap or single flap? GHW or SHW (hip yourself to the lingo!) Lambskin or caviar leather? Jumbo or maxi? Then the ultimate question arose, where would I make this purchase? I quickly stacked enough coins to purchase a brand-new jumbo flap which retailed for $5,500 in 2014 and I was prêt. Moi being moi, I had to do juste un petite plus surveying. After conducting my last bit of research, I decided to buy vintage, not brand new.
Below, I will provide the top six reasons in spite of saving enough money I decided (and continue) to buy vintage.
Un. 24K Magic!
Chanel bags made prior to 2008 were dipped in vingt-quatre gold versus the gold “tone” that is used on bags produced thereafter. The straps on my jumbo flap are so heavy that they leave an indentation on my shoulders. But that’s a small price to pay for vingt-quatre gold.
Deux. Le Quality
Perhaps it’s in my head but I wholeheartedly believe that the quality of vintage items surpasses anything made today. Case in point, my Louis Vuitton Keepall is circa 1986 and it has ZERO cracks, pills or tears. That fabulous brand new Neverfull (circa 2011) is already showing signs of wear.
Trois. Country of Origins
In my previous blog “The Racist Retailer” I noted the delight of purchasing an item in the country of its origins (vintage or retail.) In approximately 1995 Louis Vuitton began producing goods in the US, Spain, Germany and Italy. While I should note Louis Vuitton declares that the craftsmanship of products made outside of France is not compromised, “I hold these truths to be self-evident” that my “Made in France” pieces do not show signs of wear as fast.
Quatre. Securing the Bag(s) While Securing the Bag
At the time of my first Chanel purchase I was earning a fraction of what I am earning now. I was also a single mom and a new homeowner. Nevertheless I saved and saved to buy the brand-new Chanel. The time I spent researching the history of this coveted house, tracing the evolution of their designs and how current mass production has made some styles less desirable, buying vintage made me feel safe, secure and financially savvy. Though discontinued at the time of purchase my jumbo vertical patent leather vingt quatre carat gold hardware flap would have retailed for over $5,500. I paid a measly (just kidding) trois mille. Not only did I secure the bag, I SECURED the bag! With the grande savings I purchased a ticket to Roma! While in Roma, I bought my first Furla and pair of Ferragamo’s.
Cinq. “What Good is a Diamond, if Nobody Can See?” -Joe
Speaking of vintage, Joe made a great point in the 1997 hit (I think it was a hit, I was a mere child) “All the Things (Your Man Won’t Do.) What is the purpose of saving to buy such a prized, breathtaking pieces if you’re terrified to wear them? When items are purchased preloved they may already have a few nicks which eases the anxiety of not wanting to breath around them. I WEAR my bags! Safaris in South Africa, Climbing the Great Pyramids of Giza, smashed in overhead compartments aboard commuter planes to Cuba. You name it, I’ve probably done it, with zero reservations.
Six. The Exclusivity
Paying thousands of dollars (or euros) for items that are overly produced can be unsettling at times. Which is why vintage is also a great choice. Not only are the savings astronomical but some bags are no longer produced. You could possibly buy two vintages pieces for the price of one new bag, while also having an item that was produced in a much smaller quantity.
Regardless of your tax bracket if you are longing to buy a luxury item, it is possible. Though I have chosen to start buying vintage, I will admit that there are few better first world feelings than experiencing drinking a cappuccino in Chanel. A latte in Louis Vuitton. Or une coupe de champagne in Celine while the sales associates show you the latest collection.
Interested in knowing what items I’ve purchased vintage or brand new? Have you purchased vintage luxury goods? What are your reasons for doing so or choosing not to? Whatever they are, I’d love to hear them!
If you are ready to make the vintage leap click the link below and browse one of my favorite consignment websites! Please feel free to ask me any consignment or luxury goods questions.
Bon Shopping mon Copains!