The psychology behind designer bags

03 March 2016

Even the most savvy and grounded fashion lovers are intrigued by it: the designer bag. While we would never even think on spending the same amount on any other fashion piece, the whole population of female fashionista's has an inexplicable longing for her very own Chanel bag. 

The designer bag virus
While I consider myself a true bargain hunter, who loves to find a vintage treasures for next to nothing, even I have fallen in love with the world of designer bags. And while it certainly is something that comes with the job territory (I am surrounded by gorgeous designer pieces every second of the day). The designer bag infatuation seems like a virus that touches us all.

What triggers us?
So what is it exactly, that triggers us to spend these huge amounts of money on a designer bag? Last year alone, more than 25 million designer bags were sold around the world. One explanation could be that a handbag isn't just a pretty extorior. It comes with a great deal of connotations. Designer bags can exude status and uplift an outfit like no other piece can. It also plays in on our sentiments. According to experts, handbags make people feel a bunch of emotions: powerful, confident, capable, etc. They give us a confidence boost when we're feeling down and they are a symbol of our hard work or a stepping stone in life.

Women vs. women
The University of Minnesota claims that women buy designer bags to fend off potential female rivals (Vladas Griskevicius). Apparently, when a woman is carrying an impressive piece like a Birkin it screams: 'stay away from my husband'. But this can't be the main reason why we purchase designer bags. Using a bag to warn off other women is without a doubt connected to the status symbol of the bag. After all it's probably just other women who would recoqnize a designer piece and can estimate its worth. But surely this isn't our only motivation when purchasing that Kelly bag?

In my opinion we purchase designer bags for a combination of reasons:

  • Firstly, we are enchanted by the world painted by the fashion houses. Each designer bag is embedded in a story, a narative behind a collection, but also the heritage and history behind the brand. These stories are tied to the identity of the handbag and scream quality, tradition and craftsmanship. 
  • Secondly, we buy handbags because they make us feel good. Wether we fall for the status they radiate or because they signify an important moment in our lives. If you celebrate your promotion with that Chanel 2.55 you've always wanted, you connect a positive emotion to your bag, which will always stay there. An emotion that will even push you to purchase more items.
  • Thirdly, I really do believe that quality and design is a contributing factor. Even though you cannot justify the prices with just the costs of production, it's undeniable that the quality of a Birkin or Chanel bag is unbeatable by a standard department store bag.
  • And lastly, we basically buy them because we can! And you know what? That's all right. As financially independent women we are free to purchase whatever we want. As long as it makes you happy, you have no one to justify it to but yourself.