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365 days on, I reflect on whether the purchase of my first Gucci bag was worth it

Illustration by TwylaMae
Words by Sara Stockdale

My year with Gucci.

This time last year, I was buzzing in anticipation of my first real tax return.

I was 21, living at home and essentially had five per cent of the financial commitments I do now. So, like any right-minded, 20-something-year-old with cash to burn (and unfortunately expensive taste), I bought my first high-end handbag. It was a Gucci throwback canvas and leather number that fit perfectly into the logomania obsession we found ourselves in.

Aesthetically, the bag was everything I wanted it to be and more. It was classic Gucci but with a modern twist. It was timeless and casual but would complement any night time outfit perfectly. It was a textbook example of a cool, yet enduring style.

Bought online from Net-A-Porter, the bag arrived in a delicately packaged parcel complete with a bow-tied box, a Gucci dust bag and an authenticity card to boot. What a feeling it was holding up my very first high-end bag. As someone who has spent their youth looking up to high fashion designers and the artistic process, this was my chance to involve myself in the dream. It instantly made me feel like I had made it. No longer was I a tween obsessing over Alexander McQueen campaigns or trying to squeeze a couture reference into any art project at school. No, I had made it. I was an adult with enough cash to buy into the dream I’d drooled over from a young age. For some, it might be seen as a symbol of economic status, but for others like myself, this bag was a glimpse into the world that I aspired to be involved in since I was a child. It was the first step of realising a dream, with some added cool cred thanks to 21st-century hip-hop culture championing the brand in recent years.

For the first few months, I treated that bag like the holy grail. I was irritatingly careful about where I took it, hypervigilant of any liquids or dirt around me. During that time I lived by one main rule: if there’s alcohol, the Gucci stays at home. However, that all changed pretty quickly and soon the Gucci was my go-to. Whatever the occasion, it went with me and suddenly it just seemed appropriate for any event or outing.

But the stigma of having an obviously expensive bag was something I didn’t quite expect. I quickly found wearing it out was pretty polarising among my peers. The first few times I was bombarded by questions about how much it was, and why would I spend that much money. After a while, I was prepared to defend my choices each time I wore it out. And just as I was becoming sick of people thinking I was superficial, Gucci Gang‘ by Lil Pump hit peak popularity and boy, did that change things. These days when I head to parties, there’s a one in four chance someone is going to sing ‘Gucci Gang’ at me. It’s a bit of fun, and I tend to milk it, placing the Gucci in full view.

Over the past year when faced with criticism about my financial responsibility, I’ve learned not to care what other people think. I mean, I bought this bag for myself in the first place. No stranger – who’s heartwarmingly concerned about my finances – is going to make me feel bad about it.

From a practical point of view, the bag has seen better days. There’s some scuffing at the top near the zipper line which seems to be the result of trying to yank the zipper open while wearing rings. The shape of the canvas is ever so slightly distorted, likely the result of general use. Apart from that, the bulk of the obvious wear is to the logo-adorned canvas which covers the front and back. Most of this is from nights out. As with the change in the alcohol rule, the pristine air of my bag dramatically declined. I started to get small stains here and there (no doubt from drinks spilt on me or by me) but it turns out the magic of the two-toned, brown logo canvas is that it hides stains fairly well. Stains tend to blend in and are virtually invisible unless you’re actively looking for them.

See, the thing we tend to forget about expensive high-end purchases is that they’re not just for street cred, the quality of these goods is exceptional. They’re built to last. I was initially sceptical about how the canvas would hold up under the strain of a 20-something’s lifestyle, but I’m definitely one happy customer and would do it all again in a heartbeat.

Now, if you’ve decided to follow my footsteps and splash some cash on a bag come tax return season it’s important to consider a few things first:

1. Style
When considering what style you’re going to buy, ask yourself a few questions first: are you going to get sick of this? It is a trend that you’ll probably cringe at in less than a year’s time? If yes, don’t do it. Have an image of the bag on an internet tab open on your phone and check frequently. If you’re already sick of looking at it by the second day, it’s a no. To get the most wear out of it – and to justify your spending – think about what you can wear it with. How versatile is the purchase? Could you wear it on a night out and to brunch with your mum the next day? In terms of longevity, I would suggest going for something mostly leather and not canvas. Even though mine has lasted well for a year, I do worry that it won’t hold up as well as a leather bag in the long run.

2. Budget
Set yourself a realistic limit. My limit was my whole tax return: $1,400. It was like divine intervention that it was practically the exact price of my bag.

3. Go with your heart
If, at the end of the day, you find yourself actively looking for a bag to spend your tax return on, don’t do it. You’re going to have a lot of naysayers questioning why you spent money on it and if you’re not ready to go toe to toe in defence of your little piece of Gucci, then leave it.

If you’re looking for a sign to treat yourself this tax return season, this is it. Do it. Think about it a bit but, you know what? If it’s what you want, don’t let other people talk you out of it (within reason, don’t go getting a Hermes Birkin if you can’t afford it). Don’t let the naysayers put you off what you feel passionate about. Everyone has their own priorities and just because yours aren’t the same as old mate’s next to you, doesn’t mean they’re trivial. 

And while I’m definitely not saying you should throw caution to the wind and pack a Gucci for the next music festival you attend, I am saying these things are made to be used, and you shouldn’t be scared to flaunt your hard-earned cash this tax season. 

Treat yourself and your wardrobe, you’ll be loving it for the next 365 days – at least!

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