17 Mar 2014

The Handbag Generation

 Illustration - Anum

illustration by anum


 Generation Y

noun:Generation Y; plural noun: Generation Y’s

the generation born in the 1980’s and 1990’s, comprising primarily the children of baby boomers and typically perceived as increasingly familiar with digital and electronic technology.


Thank you Google for your definition of Generation Y.

I agree that these children were reared on the digital and weaned on the electronic.

Their fingers move at lightening speed when it comes to a keyboard and social media is their form of meaningful communication.

They spent their adolescence in the company of Facebook and their early twenties snapping selfies.

They don’t know anything different…they are Generation Y.

~ ~ ~

There is something else I thought of… on a lighter note…

The female Generation Y could be considered the “handbag generation”.

For many of them the raison d’être is a designer handbag.

The correct handbag provides prestige… and a boost to the self esteem… You are remembered, revered for carrying the latest.

The right handbag will be fought and sought over at any cost… They reach cult status at the hands of the professionals.

Generation Y aren’t swayed by the quality, the workmanship… the how of manufacturing… and never, ever the practicality.

They want it because it’s the one to want… They aspire to buy in.

~ ~ ~

I must stop and declare my hand at this point….

I love a good bag and am guilty when it comes to lusting after the latest… and yes… I have more handbags than one woman could possibly need… but I still covet more.

There, I said it…

If you have handbag fever, there is no cure.

The difference is, I am a grown up.

~ ~ ~

When I was younger I adored bags, just as much as I do today, but I had no conception of “designer”.

Back then, my accessory choices did not define me in the same way that they define females today.

I was taught to “cut my coat according to my cloth’… and that was the way it was.

Today when I see young girls, with muscles clenched and arms raised, to support the latest “must have’… I am curious.

How do they afford these beautiful handbags that cost more than one month’s salary? And if they can… why aren’t they putting that investment towards something more longer lasting?

That’s what we were taught… it sounds terribly old fashioned… I know… but that’s how it went.

Luxury goods were a privilege… an advantage of maturity… and something to be worked towards.


The ‘handbag generation’… It is how it is…  Love to hear your thoughts? xv

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Anita Rivera

Good morning, Vicki! I have to confess: I can’t stand to hold anything in my hands. I can’t even bear having a bag over my shoulder! While I lived in France, I carried my passport and money in a secret pocket on my being, keeping my hands FREE. Here, I have to have a small bag to carry my portable and IDs, but if I had my druthers, I’d go bag free. That’s not to say that I don’t LOVE the fashions out there for bags, but my small frame just does not hold a bag very well!



I couldn’t live without my bags, Anita… I am always carrying so much around… :)


I too am crazy for a sweet bag. Currently carrying a mauve colored bag by Coach. Thought that was the pinnacle of bags…until I found a cornflower shoulder bag by the same Coach. I am a fickle one. Oh well, spring is here and time for renewal and fresh spring colors. Thanks for your blogs and thoughts!

Rita C. (Panoply)

I agree with you Vicki insofar as being old-fashioned on the subject of handbags. I was in my late 30s before I afforded myself a luxury (to me) handbag, and still own it, although it feels too heavy on my shoulder now. I am much more particular about what I’ll carry now (mostly based on what does not hurt my neck or shoulder after, of course, visual appeal). On the other hand, I have a vast collection of vintage and antique mesh and beaded handbags – a guilty pleasure which I share with a group of nearly 300 [mostly] women – the Antique Purse Collector’s Society. :)


They sound gorgeous… I do love vintage embroidery especially on delicate handbags… love taking them out in the evenings… they really add a lot to an outfit…


The handbag generation….the perfect definition. I have 4 are right smack in the middle of this . I think and discuss this same topic often.
What has made these wonderful people think that many of these luxury items are necessities? In our family, the answer is exposure . In my day, a monthly magazine would entice me ….maybe a few torn out pages of styles I liked would be pinned to a bulletin board. But now Pinterest and fashion blogs have informed our girls of all the things they “need.” They read and see these things every single day.
The big question is…
How do they pay for all these things on a starting salary? What do they have to look forward to after years of hard work? The purse generation has a lot to learn .
Many things to think about … All before my first cup of coffee here is freezing Chicago.


When I first read the title of your post, I thought you were talking about my generation (I am a Gen Xer). I so love a good handbag, and I have a closet full of my collection over the years. What I am not is a label shopper. Yes, I have a few luxury labels in my collection, but those were added much later when I had enough income to make such a purchase and still eat. And, I bought them because I loved the design and utility as much as anything. I completely agree with your observations, and I would take it a step further and declare Gen Y as the Designer Label Generation; be it handbag, watch, or clothing. I see my younger relatives and their friends on FB and Instgram with their latest designer “fill in the blank” taking prominance in the selfie. What they are wearing seems to be a large part of who they are.


The labels are defining for the younger generation… I am fashion mad … have favourite designers and wear designer clothing… but only if it suits me and if I love it… Fashion must be about us first and who made it second… in my view, anyway… :)


Love handbags too – but now mostly lighter cross body styles. Arthritic shoulders can’t lift bags heavy with metal studs and chains (not my choice anyway).
Agree it’s worrying that Gen Y can’t seem to save. How will they ever have homes of their own? Our son isn’t Gen Y, he’s from the 70s, and as an employer sometimes despairs of their lack of work ethic. When he was at Uni, for his 21st b’day we offered him cash if he’d invest it. He was studying the stock market and financial analysis at the time so was thrilled to bits. He studied even more closely, this time with a strong personal interest and looked for investment potential. Because he was young and interested in technology, he invested in high tech floats picking up shares for around 50 cents each that within a year during the tech boom had zoomed up (and he then sold them up, well before the tech crash).
He was working part time then and saved every cent he could plus any gifts of money from his Nanna and others for further investment. It meant he was able to buy his first home while still v young. He and his wife then upgraded to a larger house for their family and have almost paid it off.

He now owns two successful businesses. So strategic and careful with his money, he uses it to invest rather than spending on clothes or fast cars. Friends have sons a bit younger and despair of them because they spend every cent they earn, on travel, dining at expensive restaurants etc. They seem to want everything NOW – and aren’t prepared to work, save and wait. It’s a worry for the future. Cheers, Pamela


So guilty of handbag passion! I just purchased another one yesterday at my favorite “designer” store, TJ Maxx, lol! I don’t want to carry the same bag season after season, year after year so I can’t justify spending thousands of dollars on one bag. I buy Coach bags at their outlets and just bought a beautiful cornflower bag for Spring. My youngest daughter has told me time & time again to carry these bags on the crook of my arm….what a bother and a pain! Due to shoulder problems, if the bag can’t be used as a crossbody, I don’t buy it. After buying the bag yesterday, I vowed today was a clearing out day of old handbags in my closet…I’d better get busy!

Laura Wilson

The young women I know who carry these very expensive bags have mothers who buy them for them. Maybe for Christmas or a birthday. Some of my friend’s daughters have lots and lots. I also don’t get it. But I am the mother of boys. I was in my forties before I had my fist Chanel.
When I see the excess that some moms are teaching their daughters, I think, what if those girls marry a teacher or a chef? They won’t be able to have those things anymore. Maybe a middle class guy would not even turn their head.
Just my thoughts…..


I do worry about that too… I think we have spoilt our children for all the right reasons and hopefully in the long game they will appreciate that and not become spoiled…


My son is in college now studying Applied Mathematics for Economics, Actuary Science and Statistics. He reports that when he is out and about in his college town, being an average looking guy who would rather go to an art show, a play,or open mike at a coffee house than a club, he is often ignored by the girls as his roommates are better looking. They are majoring in psychology and hotel management. However, when they find out his major, he gets a lot of “That’s money isn’t it?” or “Call me when you graduate.” Of course he thinks to himself, “Don’t hold your breath honey.” as he smiles. Seriously, it’s all about the money.


I so agree with you!! I purchased my first designer handbag a few years ago after sending my kids through college. I would think about which bag I would buy (as I paid their college tuition, ha). I carry that Louis Vuitton with pride. I have about 3 or 4 designer handbags. I was 50 years old when I bought that LV. I was at my hair stylist a couple of weeks ago and saw a girl from our high school with the same LV bag that I have. Her parents bought it for her. I honestly feel sorry for the boys that are going to marry these girls that are used to such luxury. Maybe carrying a designer bag is silly to some, but it makes me feel special.


It is special because of the background… and that’s something to cherish…


Well, many of the young women that I know buy these bags and use a credit card! They don’t have the money but “want it now”. I feel really sorry for them as they have no concept of saving or waiting until you can afford it. I personally knew one young girl whose parents were still paying her $1500/ month rent and she had several credit cards that were practically maxed out from buying all the latest designer handbags, shoes, etc! Such a sorry state of affairs.


I think you are right… I suspect there are many maxed out cc’s out there…

lisa thomson-The Great Escape...

Very true, Vicki! My kids were born in the early 90’s. My daughter however, is a bit of an anti fashion babe. I’m sure it’s only temporary but ripped shirts and jeans, many tatts, all black clothes are her trademark. She doesn’t covet designer handbags. As a younger teen there were certain ‘must haves’ more so than now.

I’ve never really got the whole Louis Vuitton thing. It seemed trendy. I just love a well made, leather bag that will last. I really make an effort to buy local, hand made things. I guess they could be considered designer but not anything like the ‘big’ labels. I could go on and on but I won’t bore you.
Happy Monday!!


You would never bore me with this subject… I find it fascinating and interesting to compare the different generations…

Leslie in Portland, Oregon

I’m with you, Lisa. When I was flying for a living, I purchased whatever leather goods I needed from craftsmen in Italy. Those shoes, bags and gloves, which were not expensive, are even more beautiful now than when I bought them. Since I no longer have that kind of mobility, I purchase any bags I need from a small company here in Portland. Beautifully made, of whatever design I wish, and very reasonably priced. My generation Y children, one of whom is particularly stylish, would never pay what a designer bag costs; they too make almost all their purchases from local craftspeople and farmers.


I remember my first trip to Florence and being amazed at the beautiful leather goods, that were reasonably priced… I think I would have to search a little harder these days…


Leslie, I’m also in the Portland area (recently moved back to OR) and am interested in the name of this company – please let me know!

Marsha @ Splenderosa

Oh, goodness, have you posted on something near & dear to my heart. A couple of years ago we were at a very fancy restaurant bar, next to us sat a father & daughter. The daughter sported a Chanel handbag, she was about 16. My girlfriend & I were both talking about how little she appreciated the significance of this bag. And, to this day I don’t have a Chanel. And, on the flip side of this, my daughter attended a Sacred Heart girl’s school most of her life where everyone wore uniforms; they all wanted Gucci bags then. Of course, she had a Gucci bag. I will just say this in closing, I would not carry a “fake” anything, and I only want beautiful quality. Great post, Vicki.


Quality… and another point I should have made was about that… Years ago a handbag by one of the top houses automatically meant superior quality… not necessarily the case these days…

Melanie LeFever

I love a good hand bag! As I grow older, I appreciate good quality and workmanship but most of all, my reaction when I look at it, the “wow” factor. Does it express who I am today :) it also has to be useful. I can’t carry a little clutch, but a small suitcase isn’t me either.


Less is more… I would rather wait for the quality bag than rush in and have something for fashion’s sake…


I am guilty of passing my handbag addiction along to my daughter. In fact, her “problem” is much worse than mine. I only carry handbags, shoulder bags ruin my neck and wrinkle my clothes. Great topic. Enjoy your day Vicki!


I agree with yiu there. I see very small women with huge handbags. For much of my life I had to carry a diaper bag everywhere with everything in it to provide foods and cleaning products Nd changes of clothes, with small plastic bags and boxes inside it for storage and disposal. In all that time I never, ever noticed any teenaged or young adukt woman being admiring or envious enough of that huge badge to want to know where I got it, pink or blue, and to imitate it themselves.

As my children got a little older I was glad to put away the diaper bag and graduate to a large Mama purse, in which could sometimes be found a pair of children’s shoes or an abandoned hat, snacks, drinks, even school books and shopping items. Now as I am passed that stage, I do not miss the shoukder-ache and am happy to carry a petite purse by the clutch or short handles. I even enjoy the cute purse with ruffles that is wor around the waist, holding essential cards and money and a few other essentials.

I once had an envelope shaped purse that I loved because I could place it on my lap during church or a visit at someone’s house, and it looked so chic with matching shoes. These days I do more sewing on the sewing machine and have discovered the crafty world of ruffled purses, patchwork purses, beaded and buttoned purses, and many more that I can design to match my clothes. But they are none of them too huge and they are all lightweight. I dare say many of the big purses today will be seen i. The thrift stores and goodwills, and there will be some clever people figuring out how to repurpose them.


I do agree that the weight of the bag is very important… having said that, I do seem to carry around a lot in my handbag…


I agree, this new generation worries me a lot. Today everyone feels entitled to everything without even wanting to work for it. I worry that in 40 years this generation which has no social or money saving skills will experience poverty and not know how to deal with it I worry for our world. It’s becoming so materialistic people do not know how to live simply. How many handbags and shoes do you really need anyway?? Why can’t our world stop using our natural resources at exorbitaspeeds?? Don’t they realize that they are squeezing every little bit out of our planet?


Let’s make a change and desire simplicity love and connection with each other. Show our children what really matters!


I’m monobagamous. One bag at a time. These days it’s a vintage Coach bucket bag, but I am trying to wrangle a new navy Loewes Flamingo over from Europe:)>

my notting hill

So interesting. When I saw the title I thought it would be about women in the 1950’s who did such a wonderful job matching their handbags w/their outfits (gloves, too) You are right though. Is it a sign of my age that I feel a bit sorry for this generation? The web creates constant pressure to keep up. I find myself spending more time w/my daughter, hopefully planting the seeds of careful discernment with the use of money.


Oh well well said Vicki!!
My question: is it possible to find a handbag factory in France or Italy and buy something gorgeous at cost? I have heard all sorts of enticing stories….please tell us if you know anything!!


Having a pre-spring clean out here! Have just sifted through my too many bags and donated several to the thrift shop. I will be looking this spring for the ‘perfect’ dark blue bag. I don’t like bags with black linings – can’t ever find anything in the depths. I don’t have any really expensive ‘designer label bags’ but do enjoy some of Vera Wang’s lower priced line available here in the US at Kohl’s. I find these lighter bags – faux leather but still good looking – are easier to carry over the old painful shoulder! My good leather bags are classic standard black, tan and cream – I hardly use them for other than funerals! My travel bags are all Baggallini with long enough adjustable straps to wear cross body. For evening dinners out, theater dates, and on ships, I love small bags with a special look – sequins, embroidery, mixed leathers, unusual colors, as I’m mostly wearing black. I often wish I could just go somewhere without any bag but perhaps that is only when we’re very young or very old. Young days are long gone and I can wait for the second option, haha!!!!!

Thank you so much for letting me know I’m a winner! Very excited about that Vicki.
Hugs – Mary


such an interesting thought…I have NO yes NO handbag! I gave my LV to my daughter (I bought it when I was 19..so very vintage) and then bought her another one when she graduated with her master’s degree because it’s what she wanted. Her sister has 2 also and she was so proud to have purchased them with her own earnings. So…I am like my son…he and I have no handbags..:-)


Perfectly said in the case of my daughter. I on the other hand am probably more in line with your thinking. I would be interested to find out from your readers what brands are still considered quality as it’s so true about the top houses slide in quality.

The Enchanted Home

SO on the money!! Around here it is not uncommon for a 16 year old to have a CHANEL bag..imagine!!!! Its crazy and I have never seen kids so young, boy or girl be so obsessed with labels, brands and image. It’s a little scary…we can only hope that by some miracle there will be a burnout and a return to simplier times..at this pace, I cannot even imagine what is left for them to want. When they are getting things at 16 and 18 that many adults work their entire lives for…it can only lead to one thing, disaster and never ever being fulfilled. I remember what it was to really really want something, in my case a new saddle that I waited and prayed for 11 months for until Christmas came!!!
I Looooove bags but like you said I am an adult and I have earned it, I mean them:)

Gina Diamond

Very interesting post! The “crust” of this post is something I seem to ponder frequently. I am 51 and about two years ago I thought I would like a LV bag. I began my search only to find the cost!!! I was shocked. I have a saying that just because you CAN afford something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD buy it. I just could not imagine how all of the people I had seen carrying them had paid that kind of money for them. I have always carried a very nice bag and will continue, but it will never be a LV bag or any bag costing thousands of dollars. I also wonder this same thing when it comes to cars and homes and clothes etc.

There is no better thing than to lay your head on your pillow at night with no financial worries. That is far better than any designer bag will ever be!

Garden, Home and Party

I confess, I’ve always bought quality handbags (Coach, Dooney & Bourke, etc.) but I can’t fathom spending thousands on a handbag. Yes, I love the bags by Hermes, but I’m not in a position to buy his bags and probably wouldn’t even if I could…it’s a handbag for crying out loud. Just my opinion as it relates to me. I think we all have our priorities, right?

Esther George

Hi Vicki this is the age of Credit Cards whatever young people want they can have if only they realise they have to pay for it later with interest. When I was young I loved buying evening (Disco..did I say that) outfits from John & Merrivale wow that’s a long time ago, they made beautiful clothes and there was Flookies and there was Lay-bys more sensible. I guess we didn’t have to worry about paying IPhone bills, life was less complicated. I did not have a thing for bags like Anita I did not like holding bags or carrying them over my shoulder, I would hate it even more now with all the stuff women carry in their bags…everything but the kitchen sink. I can’t understand how a person would spend so much money on a hand bag…sorry it’s that generational thing again (I’ll be 58 soon). Till next time Regards Esther from Sydney. PS wonderful blog Vicki as always….thank you.

Glamour Drops

But it’s also the generation which is so obsessed with wearing labels that many seemingly don’t care whether they are genuine or fake…which intrigues me no end…what is the point of carrying a bag with a huge label on it…just a walking advert (which applies whether it is real or fake regardless)…I don’t get it…good design should be celebrated because it is actually a good design…

And with the cost of 1st time housing ownership being so great now, I guess there is a changing sense of what is, and isn’t, worth saving up for.


fascinating subject and very insightful posts as well!
i was brought up to save and wait for what i wanted, so have great difficulty comprehending the concept of immediate gratification.
deferral of gratification has much to be said for it. waiting sweetens the actual acquisition of the coveted object. it inculcates discipline and patience. and once l’objet du desir is possessed, there follows a long period of deep enjoyment and gratitude, because the memory of waiting lingers.
immediate gratification, however, is followed by a much shorter period of enjoyment. this leads to a spiral of further self indulgence. we all know people who, no matter what they might have, always want more. if they do not have the means to support their hunger, they end up burdened by debt. this leads to stress, tension, and unhappiness.
i sink to my knees with joy when in the presence of superb craftsmanship. but i dont have to own it. ;-)


A few months ago, I coughed up a couple thousand dollars for a beautiful Prada bag. At first, I was petrified to use it, thinking it would be snatched in a public setting. But now, I carry it proudly. I’m 50-something, have worked hard for my money, and it is a lovely luxury.


Perhaps I’m the exception to the rule, but I am technically Generation Y and I while I see this happen with my fellow peers, I find it to the be the exception rather than the norm.

Perhaps it’s the individuals who I surround myself with but many of my friends(including myself) like to save although we do like nice things.Not to mention the fact that many of my peers would rather pay down student loans. I’m definitely more into fashion than some of my friends but even then, I give pause to spending extortionate amounts of money on designer items. I do HAVE designer things, but I have always payed for it myself(my parents insisted that I have a job at 15), in cash not credit via second-hand shops or finding it heavily discounted on Ebay.

In addition,I noticed a previous commenter make note about travel and eating out. Yes, those are expensive endeavors if you do it constantly and without research but I also look at those activities as experiences, particularly travel. As long as you can afford it, I think travel is so much more beneficial than buying the latest handbag. Also, some of the handbags now being sold today are the same cost as a roundtrip ticket between US-Europe or US-Asia. Unreal. So it just comes down to priorities. Would you rather have a nice handbag to show off or the trip of a lifetime? I’ll take my trip, thank you very much. :-)


So I’m a little late to this post, but as a member of Generation Y I felt obligated to comment. :) I definitely see this happening. I enjoy following quite a few fashion bloggers who are all close to me in age. I have no idea how they afford the handbags/clothes/shoes they wear! (Granted, I know many of these bloggers are gifted very nice things.) My parents raised me to buys things I could actually pay for. If I wanted it and didn’t have the money, I saved until I had it. That still goes. I like having nice things. Do I own a design bag? No. Do I want one? Yes. And it will take me a while to save that money up as other things have priority (house payment, retirement savings, college education funds for our child/children, etc.) But one day, maybe when I’m fifty, I can sport a design handbag or 2 and be proud of the fact that I earned and saved that money and didn’t sacrifice more important things to get it.


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