Young Filipinas among big buyers of Birkins, fancy designer bags

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Bag Lady Jessy Daing with the Hermes Birkin 40 cm Togo in tan leather. Bracelet by Hermes Clic-Clac

Bag Lady Jessy Daing with the Hermes Birkin 40 cm Togo in tan leather. Bracelet by Hermes Clic-Clac

By Cristina DC Pastor

Whoever said, ‘People don’t want to flaunt their money,’ have not met the women who buy capricious designer bags. We mean over-the-top totes that scream heavy color, faux leather, tassel trims, braid handles, and metals that shine from a mile away.

These buyers are mostly Asians – some in America and some in their home countries — and they have been Jessy Daing’s repeat customers for years.

Jessy is the proprietor of Jessy Couture, an online store known for its luxury designer bags and jewelry on lay-away. She has met practically all kinds of buyers: those who start with entry-level labels like Coach and Michael Kors and those who, as their affluence rises, upgrade to Hermes Birkin, Jessy’s “mecca of all bags.”

“I’ve been in this business for about five years,” said Jessy in an interview with The FilAm. “I know these women. When they want something, they go for it.”

Jessy takes exception to a Washington Post article that says women have been discreet-shopping and looking for purses that are more subtle and do not look ‘designer.’ It could be understated bags where logos are not as prominent, colors not as flashy, and sizes not as hefty. More importantly, with price tags that do not break up a marriage.

“Low-key, logo-free pieces,” according to the Post feature, are preferred by a “growing number of wealthy shoppers…instead of highly recognizable handbags from big-name brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada.”

“Maybe,” beamed Jessy followed by a shrug of the shoulders. “I have not seen that trend in my customers.”

Some Asian women, according to Jessy, like people to know what they have on their arms matching the shade of their Chanel pumps. Some Middle Eastern women, or the so-called Dubai Elite, who are usually dressed in their traditional garments, assert their social status through their handbags and sunglasses.

“They like the flashy and the screaming,” she said. Chanel, Gucci, Fendi, Prada, and Louis Vuitton are their upgrade labels after Coach, Michael Kors and Tory Burch, she said.

“Some would come to me and say, Jessy, I think I’m ready,” she shared. What that means is that the buyer has enough cash to spare and was willing to trend up, and does Jessy Couture have new stocks?

Jessy makes sure to educate her buyers, especially the so-called ‘beginners.’

“Sometimes, they want to buy the expensive labels right away; I tell them to wait, start simple,” she said. “Then they come back to me and say I’m right.”

Heading straight for the Birkin may sound like the buyer has made it and is rewarding herself for her hard work or maybe closing a big business deal. But the price of a pre-owned Birkin can be upward of $12,500, and Jessy is the first to caution against splurging.

“I should know because I’m a collector myself,” she said.

Jessy knows the feeling of women coveting the bag of their dreams. She is on the waitlist of a Birkin bag at a Hermes store in Short Hills, New Jersey, and has been waiting three years now. She was able to purchase two through connections, as she tries to resist the lure of Hermes’ prestige positioning strategy. The company makes items in limited numbers and those who do not make that batch can order from its France-based flagship store. Some, by Jessy’s tale, are willing to pay the price of a ticket to Paris and buy from an Hermes store there.

“Ang galing ng marketing nila; they do not mass-produce,” said Jessy of Hermes Birkin whose clientele are mostly socialites and affluent celebrities, such as Kim Kardashian. Designer brands that are sold in outlet stores, she said, tend to lessen the value of their label.

Some young Filipinos in the Philippines are big buyers of Hermes Birkin also, said Jessy. She has sold to some young executives and politicians’ daughters in their early 20s. “They pay cash, and I ship the bags,” she said.

There’s something to be said about a woman wearing an expensive bag, she said. “Whatever dress or shoes you’re wearing, it’s not a complete look without a must-have designer bag.”

Some women resort to reselling their old bags to get the latest must-have styles.

“Bags are an investment nowadays,” said Jessy. “You can even pawn them. Certain brands, like Chanel and Birkin, can bring in more cash than real jewelry.”

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