an ode to my balenciaga city bag

I first spotted the Balenciaga motorcycle bag on the arms of Kate Moss around 2001. It wasn’t long after that, that the it-girls of the moment, the infamous Olsen twins, Nicole Richie and so on, were seen carrying this buttery soft, structureless bag. Even though I wasn’t necessarily a big fan of their bohemian style at the time, I definitely was intrigued by that bag. Little did I know that the Balenciaga motorcycle bag almost wasn’t taken into production. In a 2011 interview with WWD Accessory Magazine, former creative director Nicolas Ghesquire talks about the 2001 Balenciaga runway show and how the motorcycle bag came close to never being made:

N.G.: And we did this prototype and nobody cared; we had a couple of prototypes for a year. Every girl who was walking [the show], including Kate [Moss] came in and was like, ‘What is that? Is it vintage? Is it something that you found at the flea market?’ I was like ‘No, it’s a handbag that we prototyped but just didn’t produce.’ We didn’t produce it because I think when I showed the prototype to the people who asked me to do it, they weren’t happy with it.

WWD: Too fashiony?
N.G.: Accessories [at the time] were rigid. Luxury leather, especially, was about rigidity. So they were not really happy, and they decided not to produce it. Then when it was in the studio and the models noticed it, I said, ‘I think we should just do 25. Let me just give them to the girls because at least some people will be happy.’ And that product started from a very, very fashion point of view [and extended] to a very, very large, global audience.

WWD: Why do you think it resonated so dramatically?
N.G.: No logo. Very light. Very effective. There is something familiar with the vintage side. Women and girls thought it was something they’d always have. It was a new fresh thing, but it looked like an old, good, friendly thing. And I think the brand also was becoming desirable. People had desire for my goods and [the bag] was the most accessible piece. You could be a Balenciaga girl with that bag.

Several years later I was still a student and definitely not in the position to spend over a $1000 on a designer bag. To be honest, it didn’t even cross my mind that I would ever seriously consider such an expensive purchase. So I did what so many of us on a budget do; look for a cheaper alternative. I was a lot less internet savvy at the time but managed to find an affordable knockoff anyway. Still, it didn’t come close enough to the real deal with its soft, slouchy leather so I kept on dreaming…

Flash forward to the summer of 2012 when I found myself in Paris at the Balenciaga store on Avenue George V with sweaty palms and tears in my eyes. The sales assistent was about to swipe my credit card when I panicked, what was I doing? Was I really about to spend over $1000 on this bag? I couldn’t go through with it and left the store empty handed. An hour or so later I was finally ready to take the plunge. After years of studying and landing my very first serious job just a few months earlier, this would be my ultimate reward.

It’s been four years and I haven’t regretted my purchase for one second. I get excited every time I take it out of its dust bag as it reminds me of a lot of hard work and perseverance. And yes, also because it’s absolutely gorgeous. Ghesquire was right in his observations. The fact that it has no visible logo and looks like an old vintage bag after a while are two of the things I like best about this bag. It’s fairly discrete and hardly anyone recognises it as a designer bag.

Now, after years of intense wear, the handles are slowly starting to fray and the corners are slightly damaged but I don’t mind. Bags are meant to be used, no matter the price. What I love about this particular bag is that it’s super lightweight and made of durable, distressed leather. Unlike most other bags that look their best untarnished, this bag only gets better with time. Its days as an it-bag might be over but I look forward to wearing my Balenciaga city bag for many more years to come.

Do you own a bag with a story?


It has been years since I last lusted after anything Isabel Marant but I think I’m in love again. Even though I’ve been very faithful to her t-shirts through the years, the declining quality of her more recent, dare I say, lacklustre collections was a major turn off for me. Do any of you remember those football jersey’s from the S/S 2012 collection? If so, I’m sure you’ll agree: that was not a good look. But lo and behold, when I recently visited our capital Amsterdam, I came across some lovely pieces of clothing by the French designer. It seems as though she decided to derive inspiration from her pre 2010 collections which consisted of the most perfectly cut, slightly oversized blazers and coats (and a bunch of other stuff too but who cares. Coats and blazers, wardrobe staples people!). I tried one of the blazers and the fit was impeccable.

Granted, those pieces come with a hefty price tag, even more so now. But all of my Isabel Marant coats and jackets are still in excellent condition after several years of wear. I bought my very first coat in 2010. Her infamous Bator coat from the main line was no longer available and many Marant lovers were on the hunt for a similar, cheaper version called the Baki coat. Since it was nearly impossible to find anything by Isabel Marant in the Netherlands at that time, I had no hope of finding said coat. But then there it was, hanging on its own in a store I had never been before in Utrecht. I ran into it by accident. It was on sale and I was sold. It has been an ongoing love affair every since.

This was around the same time that I was looking to invest in a pair of her Dicker boots (see above). Like I said, nearly impossible to find. Especially since I wear a size 36 and the only two stores that stocked the brand sold the boots from a size 37 and up. So I ended up ordering them from Matches Fashion in London. I’m pretty sure they didn’t even have an online store back then and I had to call them by phone. Nowadays it’s a lot easier to get your hands on one of her pieces. Like I said, most of her items come with a hefty price tag but a lot of it goes on sale as well. So if you’re looking for a nice coat, blazer or a pair of suede boots that will surely last you a long time, I highly recommend the brand. Her designs are the epitome of French chic and will look great on women of different sizes. I secretly have my eyes on this blazer or this blazer amongst other things and would love to wear it as pictured above as I own most of the other items already. So many options and not enough money to spend. Damn you, Isabel Marant!

This post was NOT sponsored by Isabel Marant. I wish lol.

From left to right, top to bottom: Jo Malone perfume (€65), Isabel Marant Étoile blazer ($470), Kings of Indigo jeans (€88 on sale), Balenciaga City bag (¢1835), Isabel Marant watch (¢850), Isabel Marant Dicker boots ($635), Uniqlo blouse ($19,90)


Presenting one of my simple fall uniforms. It will come as no surprise that my striped shirts are still in frequent rotation. I wonder when and if I’ll grow tired of them. I have yet to acquire a classic breton striped shirt from Saint James, but it’s definitely on my list for when the time comes that one of my current shirts needs to be replaced. The rest of the outfit mostly consists of old loves, such as a navy Isabel Marant peacoat (I told you about my rather extensive coat collection, right? I could never be a minimalist), a pair of Zara chelsea boots which are unfortunately not as comfortable as I had hoped them to be when I bought them last year, and my beloved Balenciaga city bag.

The only new addition to my wardrobe is a pair of blue jeans that fits me perfectly. Now, I absolutely loathe trying on jeans or pants in stores (fitting room mirrors are the devil) but I made an exception during my last visit to Amsterdam because I ripped yet another pair of old jeans and I was desperate to find a suitable replacement. Turns out that these are a nice change from my usual black jeans while staying within the range of my preferred dark colour palette.

Left to right, top to bottom: Boots: Royal Republiq (€135,95), Jeans: Weekday (€45), Coat: Etoile Isabel Marant (old), Shirt: Saint James (€56), Lipstick: Chanel Rouge Coco Rivoli ($36), Bag: Balenciaga city (€1395)


I have never spend more money on a piece of clothing, shoes or accessoires than I did on my Balenciaga city bag. It took me years to finally take the plunge and book a trip to Paris (when you decide to buy a bag like this, you should do it in style, non?), now, having the money to spend on this bag wasn’t easy, I had to work hard and I even had to invest on gambling from a couple of times. But when is the time right to make such an expensive purchase? And how do you know it’s worth spending a lot of money on?

Let me start by stating that you should never ever go into debt for something as a Balenciaga bag for instance. Seriously, it’s not worth it. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. It’s as simple as that. Even though I had just landed my first ‘real’ job, I didn’t have to clear out my bank account to buy said bag. So my first tip on buying designer goods is to start saving! Because what if your car or your bike breaks down? Or you suddenly have to replace your washing machine? Or one of your pets get’s ill? You get what I’m trying to say, right?

Having said that, I’m pretty sure you guys are smart enough to have realized this on your own. So let’s talk about how to decide on which items to save and on which things to splurge. Take my fall/winter wish list for example, am I really willing to spend €155 on that A.P.C. hat? Honestly, I’m not sure. It’s something I wouldn’t wear on a daily basis and I might end up finding it too much of a hassle, so looking at it from a cost-per-wear perspective, it probably wouldn’t be the wisest idea. The A.P.C. half-moon bag on the other hand would be something I could wear at least two times a week for multiple years to come. So yes, I would definitely buy the bag, but I might consider a cheaper alternative for the hat (not winning a lottery anytime soon anyway).

CPW = Total cost of the item divided by the number of days you’ll wear it.

Now some items, I feel, are reasonably priced. But there’s comes a point when a product reaches a certain level of craftsmanship and quality and there is absolutely no other reason to charge the consumer a ridiculous amount of money other than for the brand name. It’s up to you if you’re willing to give in. My Balenciaga cut-out boots were super expensive but I have never seen a similar design that looks just as nice as the real deal. Consider setting a limit for each item you would possibly buy. Would you spend €200 or €800 on a wool sweater and does that €600 difference really make a difference quality-wise? Regarding quality, check the materials (try to go for natural fabrics such as cotton, silk and wool), the seams and stitching, search for any loose threads and most importantly check the fit.

So to sum up this blogpost or TL;DR for the people with a short attention span, my tips for deciding whether to save or splurge:
– Only buy things you can afford
– Look at it from a cost-per-wear perspective
– Consider the price/quality ratio

Ps. this post could have been considerably longer, but I’ll save my ramblings on quality for some other time.

Any tips of your own that you’d like to share?