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My first luxury: a mini Chanel bag

Chanel Butler tells the story of her first ‘big girl bag’

Shopping for designer goods is about more than beauty, workmanship and cost. It’s an emotional experience that often comes with a personal story. In this series, women recall a singular piece and a moment in their journey into luxury.

Bay Area-based freelance stylist and fashion writer Chanel Butler, 33, can’t pinpoint her introduction to luxury goods but she remembers the one piece she let get away.

My first big girl bag was a mini Chanel flap. I went to Neiman Marcus in San Francisco, I went to the Chanel store and put my name on the waiting list for a black patent leather Chanel mini flap bag and it was $3,000. It was a lot. And I was like, ‘OK, girl are you really about to be paying that?’ Again this is my first big girl bag.

Chanel Butler

And I’m like, ‘You know what? Let me just put my name on the list.’ They’re probably not going to call me because of course the lady said, ‘Oh, you know, there’s 50 people waiting for the bag.’ So, you know, whatever. She must have called me, I want to say, less than a week later. The sales associate said the bag came in and they only would hold it for 24 hours. Oh, the pressure. I hopped on the train the same day and immediately bought that bag.

I’m not a mini-bag girl. I know a lot of girls are but I’m not. I sold the bag two years later. I hadn’t gotten the cost per wear out of it. The bag was collecting dust. So,

it’s like, why am I keeping this bag? And looking back on it, that is one of the luxury items — and I’ve sold quite a few — that I regret. I was maybe 23 or 24. I regret selling that bag, especially looking back on how much it was versus how much it’s selling for now.

That bag is still the most expensive full-price retail bag that I’ve purchased. She’s haunting me now but you know, in due season, at the right time, at the right price, we’ll find each other again.  

Liner Notes

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Channing Hargrove is a senior writer at Andscape covering fashion. That’s easier than admitting how strongly she identifies with the lyrics “Single Black female addicted to retail.”