Sunday, 7 November 2010


I have frequently charted my search for a functional bag. I considered a backpack, before remembering that I am nowhere near hipster enough to not look like a tourist in a backpack.

At the beginning of the academic year, I received this:

I convinced myself that I had not yet written about this big exciting purchase yet, the way I normally do straight away, because I hadn't had a chance to take a good illustrative photo. Whatever. I just took the photo you can see above, no repeats, and it is SOOC (straight out of camera), a low quality digital photo with absolutely no editing, cropping, anything.

The truth is that I have quite complex emotions towards this bag. Does that sound silly? Does it sound stupid that I can extrapolate huge emotions, relationships, shifts in style, and more, from the purchase of this one bag? Is it ridiculous to feel that I could write a whole thesis on one bag?

If I were to write the thesis, this post wouldn't be up on my blog before the bag had disintegrated into shreds. So I'll just present what the rough draft, the paragraph structure, of the thesis might have been.

1. Why spend £70 on a non-leather item?
My first desire for this bag arose from its function. The perfect size, shape and weight for a bag to lug around all my books, while maintaining style. But there are other bags that can do that. There are fakes that can do that. When I got this bag, it felt so special. I have very little experience in luxury brand names, but I have even felt their effect when carrying a Chanel shopping bag. When the bag is not simply a container but the item itself, it seems to be even more steeped in luxury, the gold-plated zips seems to take on an authentic golden sheen.

2. The process of the purchase
I didn't spend £70 on this bag. The short story is that my dad got his sister to get it at a discounted price from a large department store. The long story involves family conflict, divorce, and when someone asks me how much I paid, I can say nothing, because it was an unabashed guilt-trip gift - which I do feel bad about now.

The bag took a long time coming, and the first time I met my father to deliver it, his sister had forgotten to remove the security tag, so back it went and it was another week before she got round to sorting it out and I got it again. So it was a drawn-out process, especially if you factor in the years I'd been admiring its perfection from the corner of my eye.

3. The damage
The idealised perfection of this purchase made it seem somehow timeless. It seemed justified because it was the perfect university bag, so something that will carry me through the next three years. But within weeks, scratches and stains were appearing. At first, these stressed me out. Then I realised this is that kind of item you use, heavily, and that is why I originally wanted it. I wore it out in the rain. The scratches and the stains slowly merged and faded and vanished.

This is not a unique bag. But no-one else has my style, or my story. Like the scratches and the material, this bag seems to have somehow melded with me. I have extended to beyond the appearance and to what no-one else can see, but even the physical object has its own effects. The colour green is an important symbol of self-flattery and acceptance, to me. The strong aesthetic, slightly urban equestrian, combined with an item I wear every single day, represents the introduction of a constant in my otherwise schizo style. This bag is a book carrier, and I am a student. This bag is definitely mine.

I feel incredibly self-conscious writing this post. Trying to finish it off, I still feel a sense of ridiculousness in ascribing this much importance to just a bag. Has a new item ever led any of you into a thought-process like this? What conclusion did you come to?


  1. Oh don't feel self conscious, I love a little peek in to other people's mind.

  2. I LOVE this post!!!!!!! No, it doesn't at all sound odd to me that you have quite complex emotions towards a bag. This is so my kind of post. I think all objects that we chose have a narrative around them and I LOVE learning people's narrative of desire.
    You know I think like this. And you must know that this is my favorite post you have ever written! Bravo!!

  3. Longchamp bags are beautiful, functional, and in the grand scheme of things, not that expensive. Wearing one makes the statement that you are elegant without being conceded, stylish without being a fashion victim. Embrace your own good taste, and never feel self-conscious about it! Confidence looks good on you!
    - Catherine at The Spring (

  4. Man I can't get enough of these totes. They are SO sturdy and useful. And I definitely could wax poetically about mine as you did about yours!

    Re: signs of wear and use... like you said it just adds to the story. Mine has traveled with me all over because it is the perfect laptop fitting, leather purse protecting carry on. It is a little beat up but it still is plenty chic. Enjoy yours!

    And like you, I often ascribe meaning to my possessions. I think the ideology of consumerism facilitates such a sense of identification (and sometimes anthropomorphism). This is a great, thoughtful blog post!

  5. i just came across your blog and HAD to comment on this post -- because I completely understand everything you said. I own a Longchamp LePliage in Black, and I have to say that it has become a part of me! No questions, and I cannot even fully explain it as well as you have..but it is truly the perfect bag! Functional, pretty, stylish and it holds my entire life and I can't remember what I did before it! :)

  6. i have this bag in lilac, and i LOVE IT. I use it far more than any other bags I have, and although I did at first feel a little..silly, for spending 60 euros (bought it in belgium) on basically a shopping bag, the fact that I know that it is high quality and also that you see relatively few of them in England, takes away any guilt. And it is the perfect size, I'm now saving up for a navy short handled one!