My passion for expensive handbags started young. My best friend in sixth form, Lilly, first introduced me to Mulberry. Her mum had one, and when she was bored of it, passed it down to Lilly. And I was hooked.
Now, this was 1998, so we were pretty ahead of the game as Mulberry were really NOT popular back then. I got my first Mulberry for my 19th birthday, and I remember my mum saying that it had been in the sale (this is the benefit of having a January birthday) and I think it was just under £200.
Oh how I loved that Mulberry. It was TINY, in hindsight, but fresh-faced 19-year-olds don't need to lug around the same ridiculous amount of make up as 32-year-olds. Anyway, I loved it.
My next Mulberry I purchased myself, somewhat incongruously, while I was at university. I was pretty miserable there, and I had all this student loan money left (one benefit of having no social life at uni). So I marched into Leeds' Harvey Nichols at the end of my second year and bought the prettiest, most summery Mulberry on display. It was £225. I probably was the only student at Leeds with a Mulberry handbag in 2001. These days, I'm sure they all have them.
And over the years my love for beautifully made, beautifully designed handbags has continued - usually Mulberries, but I've experimented with Anya Hindmarch, Tory Burch and Marc Jacobs too.
I recently bought my first Prada handbag. It's beautiful, practical and a joy to use, and it cost just under £1500. I told a few friends the price, when they asked me, and their responses ranged from wide-eyed gasps to nods of approval to astonished swearing. People often tell me, with more than a whiff of moral superiority about it, they 'couldn't possibly imagine spending that much on a HANDBAG'.
And sometimes, just sometimes, I want to say that actually, I couldn't possibly imagine spending that much on a year's worth of alcohol, or a holiday in a hut on sticks in the middle of nowhere, or a fuck-off-massive super-duper TV with surround sound wotsit, or on a year's swanky gym membership, or on ALL THE OTHER THINGS THAT PEOPLE SPEND THEIR MONEY ON.
So yes, this is a bit of a rant. Here's why it's not obscene or disgusting to spend £1500 of your hard earned money on a handbag, IMHO:
1) You get what you pay for. Designer handbags last YEARS. I can't think of anything more depressing than spending a mediocre amount of money on a bag - say £80 - and having it fall apart on me after sixth months.
2) They keep their value. If you're savvy enough, you can actually make money out of the damn things. I sold my Mulberry Alexa two years ago to a friend for £500. I'd paid £700 for it. But new, that same bag now costs £1100. So I was the mug, and my friend did well there.
3) You use handbags every day. Now, I think people should be entitled to spend their money on whatever they like, personally. But of all the 'fashiony' things to spend lots of money on, handbags, along with jewellery, make the most sense to me. Because, unlike a pair of shoes, if you want to you can use them every day. For years. I did actually use my Mulberry Roxanne tote for about three years in the end, so wonderfully practical it was. It cost just under £500 in the Selfridges sale, so its cost per wear is less than 50p a day. Less than a coffee!
4) Call me naive, but I like to pay for something that's been designed with love and passion, and made with care by a craftsman. You can see the work that goes into these bags - every stitch is perfect. Cheap handbags are like cheap furniture, and I'd rather not support disposable consumerism if I can help it.
5) I don't collect anything - it's not in my nature, but I have this wistful idea that one day I'll be able to hand down my handbags to my (yet-to-exist!) daughter.
6) It's your money, it's your business. Spent it how you like. Whatever's your bag.*
*sorry, couldn't resist