This weekend marks my 16th wedding anniversary to my awesome husband! We started dating several years before getting married, too, so we’ve been together for quite a while. To be honest, we never make a big deal out of each anniversary—we’re just too low key about stuff like this, and barely even bother with gifts each year. This weekend, we’re just going to spend a couple of nice days out with our peanut, and enjoy the new stage of life we’ve recently embarked upon: parenthood!
Now, I don’t know what DH is doing with his anniversary gift-budget this year (he’s probably accumulated enough unused budget over the years to get a very luxe watch), but I decided to spend my anniversary budget, combined with Valentine’s Day and some other unused gift money, on—surprise, surprise—a new handbag.
Well, to be totally correct, it’s a new-to-me handbag. I’ve had no issue with buying non-luxury bags preowned—a number of my Rebecca Minkoff bags are used and I love them—but this would be my first time doing it with a higher end bag.
I’ve had several fancier bags on my wishlist for a long while: an original Givenchy Nightingale, a Chloé Paraty, an original YSL Muse, and a Balenciaga City. Earlier this year, I became a little obsessed with the City, which is odd since I loved the style but never really felt it was me, so I did the research (very important with products that are commonly faked) and decided I’d go with a preowned bag since the quality was apparently superior prior to 2008. Plus, getting a discount is always a bonus!
Balenciaga’s Motorcycle bag has an intriguing origin story. In 2000, Balenciaga designer Nicolas Ghesquière came up with the First, a smaller, slouchy shoulder bag. The fashion house wasn’t in love with it, since the popular bags at the time were structured. However, some fashion models such as Kate Moss saw the prototypes, asked for them, and the rest is history! The City version was released not long after the success of the First, and the Motorcycle lineup now consists of a large variety of sizes and shapes.
The bags also come with varying hardware styles and colors: the RH (regular hardware) is small, aged brass studs. Among other styles, there is also the now discontinued GH 21 (original giant hardware) and the current GH 12 (new giant hardware which is smaller than the GH 21), which were/are available in different metal finishes. The RH style bags have tassels on the zippers, and the GH styles have leather pulls.
Anyway, my main concern was getting an older (pre-2008) City bag in a bright shade of blue! I wasn’t too fussy about RH vs GH, as long as I liked it in combination with the color. I mean, I love tassels (see my Rebecca Minkoff collection—and her bags are rather motorcycle bag-inspired, too) but zipper pulls and chunky hardware are cool, too. And blue because, well, I didn’t have any bright blue bags in my collection.
Balenciaga’s range of blues are really quite stunning—actually, most of their colors are so saturated and gorgeous! The only drawback was that in some years, it appears that Balenciaga’s leather had a tendency to fade horribly. I’m sure part of that fading is due to the designer wanting the bags to age and enhance that strong vintage look, but on the other hand, I’d seen some pictures of very bad, uneven fading that is really unacceptable in a higher-end bag. Come on, I have ~$100 leather bags that have maintained their color over many years! Blues and yellows in particular seemed like they were most prone to fading (great, the two shades I was most interested in). Buying used, then, was a great way for me to ensure that a bag was probably not prone to fading. After all, if it’s been around since 2007 or earlier and the dye was still looking good, chances seemed good that the bag was dyed well.
So, in February, I signed up with a few well-regarded online consignment shops, and waited for my prey to emerge. LOL!
And, I got super, super lucky. Within a couple of weeks, Seattle-based Yoogi’s Closet (not affiliated) posted a “gently used” 2007 Balenciaga RH Lambskin City in French Blue / Bleu de France, a well-balanced, bright denim blue. The online photos have had their color punched up a bit—it’s not so electric in real life—but the close-up photos are excellent (some other sites don’t have such good photos and descriptions). I hemmed and hawed for about fifteen minutes, then hit the order button.
A wishlist bag was on its way to me!
Canadian customs was surprisingly fast getting the box to my door, and after paying up the standard customs fee and tax (no actual duty was levied, surprisingly), I had my bag in a little over a week! I won’t lie, I was a little giddy!
I opened the box, and strangely, YC had seen fit to package my Balenciaga bag in a Chanel box. I thought that was most odd.
Well, that was disappointing. I doubt there’s another woman out there who’s been as disappointed to receive a Chanel flap bag.
I immediately informed YC of their mistake, and they were completely professional and apologetic about the situation. They asked me to return the wrongly sent bag to them, and they would reimburse me for both the shipping cost and my incurred customs fees. My bag had been accidentally sent to someone else, so they had to wait for that bag to be returned, and if I still wanted it, I’d get 10% off, as well.
The mistake seemed fairly understandable: it turns out that the two bags had similar YC numeric codes. I’d probably suggest to them that they use alphanumeric codes in the future, and prefix a brand code (BAL-, CHA-, etc.) to each number in order to reduce human error in the future!
Unfortunately, my bag took quite some time to arrive at their store. It seemed like it was stuck in US customs for a while, too (I’m so curious as to where it was sent, haha!). Finally, over a month later, they were able to ship it to me, and again, Canadian customs was shockingly fast and I received my bag last week.
The bag’s color was a little difficult to photograph! I did find my photos came out a little oversaturated even in not-especially-bright sunlight (similar to how YC’s own photos turned out) and had to tone them down a bit.
I also had a happy surprise: the YC description did state that the bag came with a set of spare tassels (Balenciaga no longer does this, unfortunately), but it didn’t mention the accompanying mirror, so I assumed it wasn’t included. But, when I went through a full check of the bag just before cutting off the tag, I saw that the mirror was indeed there, tucked into the front pocket. Score! Not that I’m really going to use it, but it’s nice to have a complete set.
Overall, Yoogi’s Closet was excellent to deal with and this mix-up would not prevent me from shopping with them in the future. They were very professional and, for the most part, very communicative. I really appreciated, too, that their description of the bag’s condition was really spot on.
After having my bag authenticated over at The Purse Blog’s Balenciaga authentication forum, I’m very happy with my new bag! Even DH, who isn’t exactly a bag aficionado (though he has a good eye for quality stuff) and wasn’t overly keen on the City in photos, was impressed when he saw it in real life. He was also stunned at how lightweight the bag is, especially compared with the heavy Rebecca Minkoff and Chloé bags I usually tote. Seriously, if you have back/arm issues but still want a leather bag, Balenciaga seems to be a great way to go. I cannot understand how the bag is so light! It probably helps that my bag is RH and not GH, of course, so the weight of the hardware is lessened.
I’ve used the bag once already, and although it did spend most of its time hanging off the baby stroller, I’m already in love!
The color is brilliant: it goes with so much and is bright but not in-your-face. I’ve always loved a cobalt blue, but it doesn’t love me back (too intense, too cool-toned), and this shade of azure is the perfect alternative for warm-toned me. It should work in all seasons, too. I think the Motorcycle bag’s vibe changes so much depending on the color: in black or grey, which is how I usually see it on the street, it looks very chic and edgy. In other words, not me. Ha! In a bright color, the bag suddenly looks more fun and a bit softer, which suits me much better.
The style wears easily on the shoulder with its detachable strap, and I’m also good with hand-carrying it with the whipstitched handles. It looks nice arm-carried, but that’s never been my thing: I just feel so awkward, yet poncy, if I try it. And, my arm gets so sore. I don’t know, other people do it just fine (like my mom, who prefers arm-carried satchels) but it’s simply not for me, even though I think the City does look its best carried by the handles. I always want a shoulder or crossbody bag!
So far, my experience with Balenciaga is very positive. I’m not sure I’m that interested in buying them new, either! A preowned bag is already broken-in, probably of better quality, and hey, a lot cheaper, too. I’m starting to forsee fewer nail polishes and more bags in my future…
Now, I just need to trawl through my nail polish collection and find the perfect matching shade!
Have you had any experience buying preowned bags?