Let me start off by saying that I am not spoiled, I come from a middle class family, and I work hard for what I have and want. Like many other humans, I am drawn to beautifully crafted designer bags, shoes, clothes, etc. Growing up between the Americas and Europe, I have been exposed to many levels of luxury, and equally to many levels of poverty. Until I met my husband, I hadn’t in my wildest drams even imagined I would ever be purchasing any designer items – my focus was on simplicity and variety.
In 2011, boyfriend and I took a mini Eurotrip, which started in London, UK, to visit his sister, Justyna. Justyna, like many European woman, was on top of her game with the fashion scene; given she lived in one of the most fashion driven cities, (on top of things is an understatement). Justyna took us to visit all the major attractions that London has to offer – including the most luxurious shopping at Harrods and Selfridges. This is where my story begins.
At the shy age of 20, walking into an actual Chanel boutique was just a dream; I was still working part time, living at home, driving my parents car, etc. The thought of owning one of those immaculate handbags wasn’t even on my radar; I could have 40 or more bags from somewhere like Zara for one of these… and then it hit me… I could have 40+ “Zara” bags, or ONE Chanel bag.
The realization hit me like a tonne of bricks; with my boyfriends advice and conversation of course, it all made sense and my life was flipped upside down. I could ACTUALLY own one of these bags if I played my cards right.
I took full advantage of the shopping in London and the rest of Europe that summer, but as soon as we touched down in Toronto, I was a girl on a mission. Together with my boyfriend, we put together a plan of action for how I was going to walk into a Chanel store, swipe my visa, walk out with a Chanel bag, and not feel like I have to eat dry crackers for the rest of my life.
That’s what it’s all about really, and I think that’s the secret to purchasing a designer bag if you’re on a budget. It’s easy to just walk into a designer boutique, pick an item, swipe your visa and BAM it’s yours. But, there really is a method to the madness of a savings account, especially in this situation. In my opinion, the art of putting a little bit aside from each paycheck, even if it’s just a few dollars, is much less stressful that carrying that balance on your visa.
My theory to buying a designer item without draining all of your funds, consists of four steps:
Open up a savings account, separate from your current accounts, and dedicate it towards that *something* special that you are dreaming to purchase. Each paycheck you get, put a little bit aside, whatever you feel your lifestyle can handle, and remember, don’t over do it or you’ll be forced to pull funds back out. Keep in mind that you still want to continue living your current lifestyle, which for me means being able to still make clothing, book, etc. purchases once in awhile without feeling like I’ll be broke.
Do your homework! Once you decide what item you want to purchase, do a tremendous amount of research on it. Learn about the brand, the specifics of the item, compare sizes/colours/designs, read about the history of the brand and item (if applicable). Then, once you have all of the information from the designers perspective, check into social media, where you will be able to find more real-life examples from actual customers of these products; what are they saying, does it align with what the brand portrayed? This is comparable to searching for a vacation; the hotel looks five-star in the catalogue or on the hotel website, but that’s from the hotels marketing perspective. Once you open up expedia and see the customers photos, things usually look a bit more realistic and different.
Try it on! Try it on! Try it on! Yes, you might feel like the most annoying customer standing in the mirror examining the purse on your shoulder, adjusting the straps to wear it differently, asking for different sizes for comparison and then walking out without making a purchase. I’m sure this doesn’t make the sales associates too pleased because you’ve just “wasted their time when they could have been serving someone else who would make a sale”, but hey, you will be making that purchase soon ,and it’s not a $20 purchase, in fact, its MUCH more. Put that perspective on, and don’t stress yourself out; you will be spending a lot of money on this item, so you need to be 100% certain that this is what you want and will love and use it a lot.
Once you are 100% certain that you NEED this designer piece, and you will love and use it forever (that’s how I like to make my big purchases; the forever makes it more intense), think about where you should purchase it from. Of course, depending on the product, as some are available at department stores like Holt Renfrew or Saks Fifth Avenue, but some, you actually have to go to the actual boutique. Think about if you will be travelling anytime soon; will this product be available in that other country; if yes, if you buy it there will you be able to receive a tax return and therefore save a percentage? Is the exchange rate better in that Country; if yes, check if the price of the item is comparable?
By following these above four steps, I was able to make the most expensive designer purchase of my life so far.
Maybe my theory will inspire you, maybe you already know this, either way, I couldn’t just keep this to myself. As much as I love the fashion industry for what it gives us, I do think their pricing strategy frightens many people out of buying something they really want/love. I want the world to know that there ARE ways, intelligent ways, of making these types of purchases, even if you are not a millionaire.
Dream big, save smart, and do your research. I hope that designer item of your dreams is yours one day soon!
Next up on Designer Diary Series: CHANEL BAG PURCHASE