Whether you own a little or a lot, I think we can agree that having at least one well made handbag is somewhere on our wish lists. When you own that one staple handbag that is well made and stands the test of time, then you know that you’ve made a good investment.
The signs that you find in well made bags are usually more prominent in higher end luxury brands such as Prada, Chanel and Gucci. It may be something like the quality of the material, resisting the urge to rip or wear out too quickly, or a color that stays strong through it’s lifetime.
Which ever you decide to buy, luxury or not, you can find the signs of a well made bag regardless of what the label or make is.
Though this may not always be the case, a good indicator is generally the label brand, as long as it is the real deal.
For most brands, if you search up ways to identify genuine makes, then you can find a lot of resources such as YouTube videos or posts with photos.
Many brands will have a label on the inside of the zipper with an official tag, or even extra paperwork such as a certificate of authentication. You’re more likely to get a certificate from bags costing somewhere in the thousands of pounds or dollars.
Even if there is no certificate, it might not mean it’s not good quality or genuine. But there may be reasons to suspect it’s authenticity, so make sure you buy more costly goods from reputable sources.
A good indicator of quality can be one of two things when it comes to the lining. The first is if it has a lining, as this is a great signaler of high quality. When a bag has a lining, it’s purpose is either to protect the outer fabric from further damage, or it’s an extra addition to an already well made bag. This extra addition can even include extra pockets or dividers to help you organize your possessions.
The second thing, given that the bag has a lining, is that the bottom of it is attached to the bottom of the bag on the inside. This feature is more common in more expensive bags, and in cheaper makes, you’ll find that the lining is actually loose. This means that when you try to pull the lining inside out, it will actually come out the bag.
Generally this is an indicator of quality in terms of how well the bag was made. Better craftsmanship will show that the manufacturer put in the effort to attach the lining to the rest of the bag, whereas lesser quality will usually leave that feature incomplete.
Feet on the bag
When you turn a handbag upside down, check to see if it has any legs on it. What I mean is does it have four points, one in each corner, that the bag can sit on? These points may look like little half spheres or small squarish blocks. If it does then these bags are made to help look after the exterior fabric, particularly at the base.
Since you may be placing these bags on plenty of surfaces, a well made bag will take the care to add this extra feature in order to look after your bag and extend it’s life by limiting the wear. This protection is good for avoiding your bag touching any dirty surfaces.
It’s also a pretty cute feature to aid your bag in sitting up alone, so all in all not a bad little feature.
When assessing the hardware, you’re looking at anything non fabric such as zippers, fasteners, handle loops, logos on the outerwear or the feet on the underside. The bigger tell tale signs are the materials and construction of these parts, and the function (unless it’s actually broken!)
First of all, check your fasteners such as the zipper. Does it run smoothly or is it difficult to open and close? Does it have a stopper at the end? If you have problems with either of these things, especially if it’s brand new, then you may need to review your purchase.
Ensure that buttons and magnetic buttons function as they should, and there are no issues keeping these fasteners down.
As for all hardware, check the quality of the color. If there are signs of chipping then it’s likely to be a cheaper material that’s coated, either a plastic or an inexpensive metal. Signs of tarnishing isn’t always a sign of bad quality as metals like silver and gold do this, but for higher end items, even the metals are well protected and you’ll find little to no signs of damage.
As for engravings, check whether they look clear and easy to see, or if anything has come out blurred or unclear. For high street brands, this may not be something to worry about, though on designer bags there’ll be more concern for it’s authenticity.
I think this one can be the deciding factor in the quality of your bag. You want the stitching to be decent and to last the use of your bag, or else you’ll find it falling apart before you know it.
On the handles, check if the hem is nice and clean or whether small threads are coming loose on the edges. When it frays, it means the finish hasn’t been complete properly, although most bags will seal these edges with a plastic seal on the exterior edges.
For the rest of the bag, ideally you don’t want to see any of the stitching revealing itself. Good quality bags have it tightly sewn and sealed, as loose stitching runs the risk of getting caught and falling apart.
Poorer quality bags will reveal the stitching if overfilled with things, although you don’t want to do this to any bag anyway to prevent it changing shape.
For the interior, the situation should be the same, and stitching shouldn’t be seen. Seams and hems should be clean, and you shouldn’t see any raw fabric if you turn any hem lines over, so even they should be sealed properly.
Stitching should also be straight and even across the bag, and any that doesn’t follow a neat pattern is likely to have been made in haste. Those that have had more care and time will look neater and more even all over.
So these are all the things I look for in bags when I’m assessing the quality. The price point isn’t always the deciding factor in it’s quality and make, and sometimes you can find these features in more affordable high street options. It’s just a case of looking around yourself and making that judgment.