I’m a Snob – Designer vs High Street Handbags

So, I was in TK Maxx the other day sobbing (hyperbole at the author’s discretion) over a Chloe Nile that was reduced to the bargain price of £800, knowing full well that I would never spend that sort of money on a bag even if I could afford it, when my mind flashed back to a very similar bag I’d seen in a charity shop not long ago and turned my nose up at. The ever popular Nile has been duped by high street shops from & Other Stories to Primark, copies abound on eBay and semi-illegal fakes are all over TaoBao. When it first launched it was one of the most desirable bags out there, and it remains so to this day. Naturally, I love it.

However, since I refuse point blank to spend such silly money on a hangbag that would barely hold my phone and purse, I have to think about why I’m so resistant to buying cheaper versions of what is essentially the same bag. Okay, the leather may not be as “buttery soft” or may even be plastic, but it still looks very similar and has the cool shape and iconic circular handle, so what’s the problem? Well, I figured it out – I’m a snob.

I could argue that I don’t buy designer replicas because I’d rather support the original artist or brand, and buying a fake is undermining their business. I could present this as the ethical choice – I wouldn’t be contributing to the high street’s unethical business and manufacturing practices and I wouldn’t be undermining the art of designers. Yet, often designers are just as unethical in their production practices as the high street, and the truth is those designers aren’t going to go out of business any time soon if I buy the Primark knock-off – there’s a reason their bags cost thousands of pounds. The truth though, is that if I really desperately wanted that bag, I would go out of my way to find a semi-ethical way to get hold of one or a close copy. Clearly, I haven’t done so. As to why, I reiterate – I’m a snob.

When faced with the cold, hard facts, that’s the only real conclusion I can arrive at. If you presented me with the exact same bag minus “Chloe” embossed on the side, would I be interested? Possibly not. Perhaps I just like the idea of owning a symbol of such wealth and prestige. There’s no denying that it would be the most incredible Instagram prop – did I really just make the argument that I should spend hundreds if not thousands of pounds on a handbag for the sake of INSTAGRAM?! It’s a difficult thing to realise about myself and confront, because it’s straight up insane.

I will not be buying a Chloe bag any time soon. There are smaller designers that don’t have that cult status whose designs, if I’m being honest with myself, I like a lot more. I don’t want to buy things to make others envious, or to simply flaunt wealth I don’t really have. Is there anything more crass? I don’t like that I can convince myself that I like things simply to show them off. Interestingly, I don’t think any of these things when I saw others wearing beautiful designer handbags. I simply admire the bag and don’t even consider their financial status or motivations. My reaction is a very pure “oooh I love that bag!”. It’s only when it comes to the point of considering purchasing one for myself that I run into this sticky emotional and ethical quandary.

One of the bags I actually use the most – a £3 tote bag from H&M

If you see me sporting a designer bag anytime soon, you can bet it will be second hand, which is the way I roll with most of my clothing these days anyway; it’s the most ethical and affordable way for me at this time in my life. You also won’t be seeing me carrying a Chloe Nile. I looked at that Primark dupe and honestly, I thought it was ugly. The truth is that I’m not sure I even really like the original – I think I was only ever interested in the status symbol. In real life, my most-used and most-loved bag is from Fossil, cost £70 and has lasted nearly ten years. It can hold a book, a spare pair of shoes and everything else a girl needs. It’s closely followed by a canvas H&M tote bag that I’m constantly using to cart around my life when out and about. Would I ever use a tiny little bag that holds barely anything, that I don’t even really like and would almost bankrupt myself buying? Yeah, I don’t think so, no matter how great it would look on the ‘gram. As for this revelation that I’m a snob? I’ll work on it.

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