Given all of the queries about manbags (totes, duffles, top-handled cases, messenger bags, backpacks, etc.), I thought a single, relatively comprehensive thread in which we could share the brands about which we have some knowledge might be useful and, over time, could develop quite well. It could be a companion to this thread, which has pictures: http://www.styleforum.net/showthread.php?t=98796 Please add your favorites! FORMAT: To keep it organized, please list the brand name first (preferably underlined or bolded) along with pros and cons, so far as you see it. Critiques/counterarguments or other ideas could be quoted in subsequent posts by others. Also, try to give an idea of pricing for standard bags.
For example: The Famous/Infamous: Prada:: ($750-2000) PROS: Full men's collection each season, in addition to "standards" that fit every variety from messengers to totes to briefcases. Bags starting with "V" or "VA" in the model number usually from luggage or men's collections and generally better quality than others, with better hardware and leathers. Also follows seasonal trends and can often be obtained at discount. CONS: Absurd retail price and must-see-it-in-person quality variations. "Entry Level" items have very low quality and crappy hardware. As well, sometimes styling is garish with too many logos. Also MANY fakes floating around, so buying on ebay or discount locations NOT recommended unless you know the brand well. Avoid "LUNA ROSSA" like the Plague!!! FINAL VERDICT: Still one of my go-to brands; I've had probably 15-20 Prada bags since the mid 1990's.
Louis Vuitton ($1000 and up) Pros: Excellent construction and durability, for the most part. Leathers are good, canvases get better and softer over time. Also, if you have issues with the bags, they are generally good about fixing/replacing them for your. Cons: Retail price, which is dumb to the point of being a joke. Styling can be garish, especially with logos. Recent popularity has meant more bags being produced, which means there will be more "mistakes." Also, WAY too many fakes out there, so only buy from reputable sources. LV doesn't have regular sales, so a "NWT" bag that is 1/3 retail is almost assuredly fake. FINAL VERDICT: Too expensive, too "bling-y," too high-profile. Occasionally get a bag here and there, but not a "go-to" for me.
Gucci ($750-$2500) Pros: Some nice styles, sometimes, especially in the more "classic" areas and in older bags from Tom Ford's tenure. Cons: The new designer there makes really, really ugly shit. Quality is also quite low, in general, with top-tier prices. They make good stuff sometimes, though, but CAVEAT EMPTOR. FINAL VERDICT: I really don't even look at Gucci anymore, sadly. A/W 2004 was the last stuff I bought.
Hermes ($2500 and up) Pros: It's Hermes. It's superlative. You can't complain about anything, except that sometimes the styling can be dowdy. Cons: You can't afford it. Sorry. Neither can I. Even on sale. FINAL VERDICT: When I marry a rich Baron who loves me and will give me an allowance of $150K per month, I'll buy Hermes.
Dior ($500-2000) Pros: Simple, dark, classic styling. I really like Dior styling, overall. Cons: Construction is usually really quite shitty. My friend who used to work for Dior Japan never recommended to anyone in private that they buy Dior, if they planned to use it for longer than six months. This isn't an absolute, of course, but in general be wary as you may not get the use you'd expect from spending $1000 on a bag. FINAL VERDICT: I've been disappointed with the longevity of all 3 or 4 items I've owned. Won't make the same mistake again.
Fendi ($700-2500) Same pros/cons as Dior, though the styling can sometimes be garish to the point of making you go, "WtF?" FINAL VERDICT: Same as Dior.
Givenchy ($800-2500) PROS: Unique styling, good quality leathers and linings, under-the-radar logo that is distinctive, but not garish. CONS: Variability between items and insane retail prices. Some are made in France, Italy, and Spain (these are very nice). Others are made in Morocco, Turkey, and Eastern Europe (these are so-so). Finally, some are made in China (these are cheap and crappy, though priced absurdly high). Unfortunately, it is often hard to tell which is which at first glance. FINAL VERDICT: If you can handle/see the bag in person, often the items are beautiful. Ordering blind, though, can be VERY risky and not recommended. I also wouldn't order from Yoox, because they don't mark clearly which item comes from which line.
Salvatore Ferragamo: ($700-2500) Pros: Seasonal items, especially, are very low key, "sophisticated" without being boring. Large distribution network that lets you find them on sale OR easily repaired by them in the case of damage. Branding ranges, but often seasonal/runway items have very low-key logos. Cons: Hilarious retail price w/ sub-par hardware and materials for that retail. For $1500, you don't want crappy zippers or very thin lining or straps. GOOD on sale, not at retail. FINAL VERDICT: I can get them generally for good prices on sale, so I pick them up fairly regularly and use them for work.
Bottega Veneta $1000-and up. Pros: Beautiful, simple, relaxed styling with luxe leathers and materials. No overt logos and an overall understated, no-nonsense approach to design. Beautiful color pallete, too. Cons: expensive as hell, sometimes the quilting/patterns can go overboard. Sometimes leathers TOO soft/smooshy and so can be difficult to keep clean or in good shape, if you are rough of your bags. Overall assessment: I love BV and where Maier has taken the brand. If you can afford it, go for it. In addition to their famous "quilted" patterns, also check out their very sturdy and hardwearing "Marco Polo" line of luggage.
Coach ($400-1000) I see nothing to recommend, sadly, especially with the high pricepoint and abysmal construction and attention to detail. I wouldn't even put it on my list of brands to review, unless I happened to come across an older bag.