If there’s one activity that I discovered during this pandemic season, it’s the ability to bring new life into an old bag.
A sampling of the vintage Coach Bags that I’ve restored during this pandemic.
Since the commencement of the big lockdown, I’ve whiled away hours perusing the internet (much to Bonaparte’s dismay) in search of inexpensive bags that could be restored.
Only two brands spoke to me: Louis Vuitton and Coach.
I”m definitely all about the vintage LV Monogram bags as well. All of these with the exception of my Neverfull bag were purchased pre-loved and were cleaned up and repaired.
I love the Louis Vuitton Monogram canvas bags. The checkered print of the Damier and the Damier Azur, not my jam. But there’s something so lovely about the deep brown coated canvas adorned with initials and symbols that I find irresistible. And it looks striking against the Vachetta leather.
And for me, it’s all about the monogram. I’m just not into the Damier -The grayish/blue and cream checks do nothing for me..
Due to my stubborn searching, I was lucky enough to find a few bags and small leather goods to restore and become rather close siblings to the Neverfull bag that Bonaparte gifted me with in 2019 for my birthday.
The one bag, the very one bag I was searching in vain for was a Vuitton Noé Bag. It didn’t matter whether the bag was the larger GM or the smaller, more petit PM. I love the drawstring element. I love the casual unstructured vibe. I love the bucket bags.
But the thing was, I was never able to find that one Noe for me. First of all, I don’t buy damaged goods. And by damaged, I mean, I won’t buy a bag that has a ripped strap or handle. Nor will I purchase a bag with scratched canvas or tears, rips, or burns in the coated canvas. I’ll restore an old bag. I’ll clean up the filthiest, greasiest bag with incredibly tarnished hardware. I’ll even tear apart a bad lining. But I won’t deal with damage.
Cracked leather, no. It’s an impossible feat to find one in good used condition that doesn’t cost a fortune!
My LV Bucket GM had to have the trim repaired because while I was refurbishing the bag, I got a bit heavy-handed and the trim started ripping. It cost me over $100 to have repaired. Still, for the price of what I paid added to the cost of repair, it was still a great deal.
My repaired bucket bag. It cost me over $100 to repair and the bag still remained incredibly affordable!
I’ve searched Poshmark, Mercari and eBay in hopes of finding my elusive Noé to no avail. Other sites that sell preloved LV bags are just out of the budget I set for myself. If a bag is in “great” used condition and being resold for nearly what the original cost is, I may as well just save for a new one.
And that’s what I was planning to do. Until a “thing” happened. That thing was a price increase earlier this merry month of May. It was the third of the brand’s price increase for 2020.
The price of my coveted bag is now up to $1,730 dollars. I’m not buying it!
That. Is. Abominable. It is greedy and arrogant. We are in the throws of a pandemic. People have lost jobs. People are dying. And this brand raises their prices.
I read that the latest increase was due to the rising costs of supplies. I call Bull$hit. The cobbler who repaired my LV bag had the foresight to order a ton of supplies—leather from Italy, polishes and cleaners from Canada and other items, when this lockdown barely started. So why didn’t a huge conglomerate of luxury items do the same?
Even more disturbing was the rising cost of the used Noé bags I researched. Bags for $300, $400, $500 damaged beyond repair. My mind was filled with questions. How could someone trash a bag that was really expensive? How could a bag like that be damaged in the first place? How could someone have the audacity to even sell a bag in that sort of condition?
This Noe, although not obviously damaged is incredibly old and lackluster and still managed to sell at over $600. I’m sorry but no pre-loved bag that looks this aged should be sold for that amount of money.
In the meantime, I rediscovered a brand that I loved when I was younger. Coach. When I was in my twenties and working down on Wall Street in Manhattan’s Financial District, the bags were the “It” brand. The simple lines. The pragmatic styles. No logos. Just stellar leather. That’s it. Leather with no fabric lining. No status symbols. Just a fabulous bag.
The simplicity of Coach bags always warms my heart. I recently refurbished this 45-year old Dinky Bag!
When she was in college, Oona worked at Coach and loved that job! She worked weekends when she came home for laundry and wellness visits. She worked during holiday and summer vacations and worked there for over four years! One of my favorite bags is a tote she gifted me with.
Oona gifted me with this Coach tote abour 13 years ago. It still remains in my rotation and I absolutely love this bag!
Then came what I call the “C” years. Ugh. Coach lost its way and followed logo suit with other brands. Less leather-more canvas and the letter “C” splashed all over. Call me “C”razy but I thought those years cheapened the brand.
Coach finally did an examination of conscience and now sells updated versions of vintage and iconic models. But here’s the thing. Why spend the money when you can just buy a vintage Coach bag, clean and polish it up, and get that old-school Coach vibe?
And that’s what I did.
Luckily the Coach bags of vintage years are still incredibly affordable. But who knows for how long? Anyway, I’ve restored a small number of these lovelies and am having a grand time wearing them to the office.
More of the vintage Coach bags that I’ve rehabbed!
But back to that coveted Noé. She was still in the back of my mind until I spotted something else. A Coach Lula’s Legacy bag. Smaller than either of the Noé bags I coveted; this bag was still large enough to hold essentials that could be needed. A journal for writing could even fit.
Coach Lula’s Legacy. Everything the Noe bag isn’t–and is at a wonderful price.
All leather. No coated canvas to become damaged. No Vachetta leather to stain. A simple drawstring bag that needed a very big cleaning.
I spotted her on eBay and was charmed by the seller’s description. The bag had been in many college bars. It had lots of beers spilled upon it. The inside was stained with pen marks from being thrown into the bag after classes.
This bag had a history and was filthy. I loved her. There was no damage just beer, ink and dirt. And the seller had a sense of humor and was honest.
I dunked her. I scrubbed her. I dried her. And conditioned her.
The bag became mine for $40. I dunked her in water. I scrubbed her. I conditioned her. The dirt and grime were gone but there was permanent darkening in spots—I’m guessing from the beer. This bag must’ve trekked miles with the Walk of Shame—or Shameless!
As clean as she got, there are still some dark spots but it is part of her charm!
Lula’s Legacy certainly is—a legacy!
See? She’s clean but has the markings from all those beers! Still, she’s strong and powerful!
The rich chocolate brown will lend itself well to the coming fall and winter palette as well as now. So yeah, I still dream about that Noé but now isn’t the time. I’m fortunate to be working but who knows how office policies will change once people return.
It’s time for frugality. I’ve put a halt to refurbishing future vintage bags—but I have enough for now.
Lula holds a good amount of my stuff: Here’s a look-see
As you can see, quite a bit fits into Lula’s belly!
This wallet! It is the greatest one that I found on Amazon. It’s small and compact and holds a ton of cards and money! Chippy is coveting it as a snack!
Hand sanitizer that I FINALLY found and found at Produce Junction when I purchased flowers yesterday!
My planner–which since March the only writings are “go to work” “come home” “cry”
My Louis Vuitton Agenda PM which also has nothing of plan in it. I had to cross out our visit to France next week!
A little burlap sack with lip balm, lipstick and lipgloss.
Another little sack with extra masks–just in case
A wig comb that Chippy snacked upon
A reusable shopping bag housed in a little sac from Monoprix. I have one in every purse. I hoard these when we are in France. One can never have enough of these little shopping bags!
Don’t even ask. 2012. I started using this as a food journal but lately there isn’t enough room to add what I’ve been eating!
So yeah. Lula holds quite a bit. Chippy thinks it’s Christmas!
And so, my Coach substitute for Noé will suffice just fine!
Do you have a bag that you covet? Are you tired of rising costs for “luxury” bags? Let us know!!!
Very cool bag. I am very suut rprised you can dunk a leather bag in suds and water without damaging it further. Is there a secret method for this? The only high-end bag I have is beautiful hand-made Italian leather bag, white with pastel pink, blue and green trims by Michel Angelo, very pretty and unique and superb quality. I won it years ago in a magazine give-away! Lise
Lise. Thanks! The thing that makes these vintage Coach bags “dunkable” is the face there’s no lining. It’s raw leather and it dries beautifully. It’s an incredible thing! OMG. You were so lucky to win that bag!!!! XOXOXOXO
That should be surprised not suut rprised – my keys are sticking – ack!
Don’t worry-LOL. Between autocorrect and my lousy laptop, I hear you loud and strong on this subject! XOXOXOXO
My love has always been for Longchamps bags. Poshmark is an amazing site for scoring one at a great price if you are willing to accept a little wear and tear although the real concern needs to be the authenticity…so I have never bought a used one myself. My three new, authentic bags were purchased for less then some of the used but questionable provenance items I saw on Poshmark! If I wait and check out discount sites Zulily or BTR in Canada there are some great deals on new Longchamps bags. Even Nordstrom Rack or Black Friday sales can yield a great bargain. On Poshmark some items are authenticated but we’re talking the 10,000.00 Birken or the bags well over 1,000.00! Not the 25.00 nylon le pliage that looks like Chippy had snacked on it:) Poshmark is also great for digging up deals on Hermés scarves. Some a little worse for wear.
You could start a little biz,refurbishing and reselling your bags, probably sell for twice or more what you paid. It’s so great that you are rebirthing these beautiful pieces that would sit in a closet for years or get thrown out!
Momcat–one of the greatest bags I’ve ever owned (and it is in a dustbag for next winter’s use) is a leather Longchamp bag. I FOUND it at Nordstrom Rack and literally snapped it up and ran to the checkout. There was no way anyone else was going to get that bag! I’m a fan of the Longchamp leather bags and have four of them that are in my regular rotation. Poshmark has been a great source for my with the vintage Coach bags but boy, you really have to check and inspect every single bag to make sure they are authentic. XOXOXOXO
Not a fan of LV, but you know I’m drooling over those beautiful classic vintage Coach bags. That Lula looks like one my Mom got for my sister-in-law in the 70s. Stay well.
Yeah. Julie. Those classic Coach bags are insanely incredible. The leather just does not wear out. It gets all beaten up but you can bring it back to normal!! XOXOXOXOXO
Bravo to you, I’ve purchased a few very old Boteega veneta bags. Too bad my sons rabbit eat the handle when I wasn’t looking. I’ve been enjoying MZ Wallace bags on sale. I’m enjoying the colors and patterns. So much lighter than leather. At the same time my husband lifts my purse and thinks it’s way too heavy.I also love basket bags. I guess I love purses that don’t look too pursey. Love your new passion. What a thoughtful husband.
Hi Sandy! When I worked at Nordstrom those MZ Wallace bags were hugely popular! LOL. My husband dares not even attempt to lift one of my purses! LOL! XOXOXOXO
Once again, we are on the same page-or maybe I should say, in the same bag? My LV Noe was a hand-me-down from my mother. Well loved and I have replaced the drawstring-for an exhorbitant amount – at the Dublin store. My Ellipse-the bowling bag style- is not a favorite. Maybe because it is not a shoulder bag . I also started collecting Coach about ten years ago. Only the leather ones-the canvas models look and feel cheap to me. My Lv wallets are so worn, the are unrestorable but I keep them for the memories. (Like the T-shirts I never wear anymore.) Let’s talk coats soon-I have dozens-just can’t resist a vintage Lily Rubin! Stay well. And maybe sell some of your restored beauties for the big prize you covet.
Hi Cyndy!! The Ellipse was never a favorite of mine either. I love my Alma and my Speedy but don’t use them often because they aren’t a shoulder bag! I’m also with you on the all-leather Coach bags. Ugh. That “C” canvas IS tacky. Yuck! Well, I have a strong suspicion we will be talking coats sooner than later because there’s really no place to go ghis summer! XOXOXOXOXO
Cathe, you always are doing something creative – I love that about you!
Thanks Joan! It could be due to the “ants in my pants” that my mother swore I had. LOL!!! XOXOXOXO
Any tips on how to tell if Coach purse (or any designer bag) is authentic?
Also how to tell if items at outlet stores are the real deal or just made to sell at outlet??
Hi Mary Lo9u. Back when my daughter Oona was working at Coach, she told me to not go to the Coach outlet as 95 per cent of the bags were of lesser quality than the brick and mortar stores or online. Since then I steer clear of the outlets. For a few dollars more, you can get better quality from the retail stores.
The best way to authenticate a Coach bag is through the Creed. That’s the little square inside the bag with the creed and style numbers.
The creed has changed immensely over the years but if you google Coach Creed, you will find a number of articles and helpful hints to authenticate.
As far as vintage goes, you’ll never see “coach” imbedded on the hardware. If the straps are “puffy” i.e. if they feel “filled” its a fake. Be mindful of stitching and of misspellings on the creed.
Hope this helps!
A good handbag – lovely… why is it that these days we have to pay more for less? By that I mean we pay more for simplicity and pay more for quiet good finishings. I am so sick of handbags that are covered in “meh” and have some blingy stuff here and some crappy naffness there and then some fussy nonsense… it is so worth it to pay for something beautiful that you connect with. I love that beer bag – it is divine, I bet that previous owner would be totally kicking herself if she could see how good it looked
Juliet. What you said is so true. It brings to mind the Valentino shoes with the little embelishments that look like S & M instruments. And so many luxe brands have a certain amount of tacky embellishments. Give me simple. Hmmmmm. Perhaps that’s because I’m simple! XOXOXOXO
I once thought the Valentino shoes were so cool, but there was no way I’d shell out the money for them. It seemed like every fashion blogger and their sister were wearing them. I bought a pair of knock-offs and not too long afterwards decided I was bored with the whole idea. LOL
Love all your bags and appreciate the hard work to make them look great. I have one LV that my son and daughter in law gifted me with right before their rehearsal dinner and inside the sweetest note that I will save forever. I covet a Chanel bag BUT know that is not in the cards for me…plus to be honest it would be uncomfortable to me to spend that amt. of money on a handbag…knowing how many people in the world are hungry,,,not that I do not treat myself…I do…but so much for one purse just seems wasteful…even a used one …but I still love them.
Hi Nancy! Oh that’s such a beautiful gift–especially with a note! But Chanel has never rocked my boat. Envoye Special, a French 60-minutes type of program did an expose on Chanel a while back that turned me off so badly. It costs about 37 euros to make a bag and slightly more to make the shoes–and the mark up is disgusting. XOXOXOXO
Hi Cathy! Can you share your source for French programming? Do you watch Tele5Monde or something else? All I am able to watch here is the news on France2, but not their other programming. Thx, Sandra.
I’m not really a bag collector which is probably a good thing because I AM a shoe fanatic. LOL. I have one Coach bag, a Willis. Mint condition because I take care of things. I’m shocked at how beat up that LV (that you didn’t buy) looked. The owner sure didn’t take care of it at all. Yikes.
Lately I’m wearing a Hobo Fern crossbody bag. It’s small, but suits my minimal needs. I probably have a total of about 10 purses in my closet and I don’t regularly switch them out.
My new resolution regarding shoes is I can’t buy anything new unless I retire something. Space is an issue!
Hi Vava! Oh I love the Coach Willis bag so much! Can you believe that people are selling LV bags in that condition–and let me tell you, the condition of that bag wasn’t as horrible as many others. It’s insane! Those Hobo bags are very nice–and the brands wallets are great! XOXOXOXO
Purses make me so happy. I enjoyed this!
Thank you so much Diane! XOXOXOXO
You has started a whole new. obsession for me…I now have 4 vintage Coach bags that I won on ebay…All are authentic as far as I can tell…Igot a black and a brown Willis and a moss green Janice and a red small hobo. Can’t wait to start restoring them,though they won’t need much. STOP ME BEFOE I BID AGAIN!!!