Precious has been stuffing her bags full since school days, and years into the workforce made her realize that she needed to invest in something more durable, something more beautiful.
“I collect designer bags mainly because of my trust in the implicit durability of branded items, particularly designer bags,” says Precious Cardenas-Prieto, 29. Working for Air France at SFO International Airport, she has been living in South San Francisco, California for three years now, and before this, she used to replace worn out bags almost every four months, which wasn’t exactly economical.
Her collection ranges from pochettes or clutches to gym bag and lunch bags. As of this writing she owns 31 designer and branded bags including Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Gucci, Tory Burch, Balenciaga, and Chanel, acquired as gifts or, well, splurges.
“I know there are always affordable but sturdy brands around,” she admits. Her Chanel GST and Dooney & Burke, for instance, could be replaced by cheaper handbag and lunch tote, but these are too beautiful to be swapped with the ordinary.
Choosing a bag for the day requires the Precious Bag Assessment: Does my activity for the day involve a lot of walking? Will it rain? Will I have to carry a lot of items?
“Also, recently, I’ve learned that fashion-wise, my bags that have a certain type of hardware (gold, silver, brass, etc.) should always match my shoes. It sounds slightly pathetic but I’d be afraid to be seen carrying a bag with gold tone hardware while wearing a pair of shoes with silver hardware detail.”
Bag collect tips
Precious wasn’t even brand-conscious when she was a college student at the University of the Philippines, taking up Speech Communication. Her bag collecting is a relatively new hobby, but she has a word of advice for those who wish to start a collection.
“Don’t buy bags just because they are trendy. Don’t buy bags just because they look pretty,” Precious warns against impulse buying. “Instead, I recommend buying pieces that are considered classic, something you could use not just for one occasion. You have to have pieces that are pretty and practical according to the occasion.”
“I pity tourists I see walking the streets of New York or San Francisco carrying beautiful handheld bags. This is the reason why Coco Chanel made the 2.55 classic flap bag – to avoid what is now deemed as an actual muscular illness of the arm and the shoulder called Poshitis.”
“No matter how much of a classic the Louis Vuitton Speedy 30 is, you’re better off with a Louis Vuitton Neverfull if you plan on spending the greater part of your day on your feet. This is of course not to say that you should not buy a Speedy 30. It’s my first designer bag, in fact. It’s what a lot would say as the best, most affordable starter luxury bag that is flexible in use and is rich in history and heritage. Audrey Hepburn loved hers!”
What’s your favorite bag?
“Now this is a difficult question! I have several in mind because they are considered absolute must-have classic pieces in just about every bag review ever made,” says Precious.
“But if I have to really choose, my best investment piece is my beige Gucci GG plus tote bag with brown leather trim. Currently retailing at $850, it’s relatively cheaper compared to most mainstream luxury designer bags of the same kind. It is roomy (you can fit a legal-sized document in it comfortably!) with a huge internal pocket, has a water-resistant and scratch-proof canvas unlike most Gucci bags, and has a dark nickel zipper which is perfect for shoes with either gold or silver hardware, even sneakers!” she says.
“I would not be afraid to take it anywhere with me although of course I would try my very best to not get it scratched or stained.”
Have at least one designer bag, Precious advises,
Remember, if you take care of bags of this kind, it’s bound to last you a lifetime and if lucky, you can even pass it on to your daughter.
It’s been three years since she has thrown away a bag. Of course, she is careful with overstuffing now more than ever.
Precious’ tendency to overstuff bags dates as far back as the 90s. “From grade school to my early years in the corporate world, I had always felt the need to carry a lot of things that I thought I might need. It was my security blanket. On a certain day, I would even take with me books that were not part of my class schedule.”
“Through the years, however, circumstances forced me to lessen my load. My long, almost daily, commute from our apartment in Pasig to my classes in UP Diliman and the thick stacks of photocopied readings forced me to prioritize,” she says.
Gradually, she learned to deal with the responsibilities on her shoulders, whether literal or figurative. When her dad fell ill, she felt the need to be in control by carrying everything. There were sleepless nights that drove her into crying and shaking fits especially when her dad passed on.
“What I have since learned and what my husband now constantly reminds me is that I don’t always have to control everything by myself; that there’s no guarantee that things will always be in my favor even if I have everything with me. I either have to share the load or let go.”
Regaining her calm, she wants to share this, too, with others: that we need to be careful about overloading ourselves with pain and anxiety. And Precious does this with a stronger core and poise.
Written by: Ai Macalintal. Ai couldn’t stay in one place for too long, so she’s always walking, traveling or changing address. She’s been an editor in Singapore and has written for Aussie magazines, but penning stories about the Philippines delights her most.