I recently toured the Brighton factory in California and reviewed how to determine quality in handbags. There are two kinds of handbags—those that are assembled and those that are designed. An assembled bag has premade components that are selected and then put together to create the bag. A designed handbag starts with a sketch. Next, the hand-created prototype is evaluated, tweaked, and finally produced. Every part is designed and manufactured for that specific handbag, giving it a distinctive look. Brighton produces only designed handbags.
The kind of leather chosen contributes to the life of the bag and its feel. Top grain leather comes from the top of the hide, which is considered the finest quality. The underside of the leather doesn’t have the durability or the same feel as top grain leather. How and where the hide is tanned also affects the quality. Italy’s tanning formula produces some of the best leathers of the world.
Drum dyed leather sends the dye through the entire leather. If a handbag has been scratched, the scratch doesn’t show as much because the dye is throughout the leather. Look at the edges of the leather. Do you see raw leather, or are they the same color as the rest of the handbag? A spray dyed leather scratches more easily, exposing the raw leather color beneath.
Most handbag leathers are stamped to imitate exotic skins such as crocodile, or snake. Look at the depth of the stamp. A deep stamp requires more pressure and gives more definition to the design. Finally, look at the overall attention to detail. Is stitching consistent, threads cut, parts equally balanced? A handbag is an investment. Look for the signs of quality.
Nancy Pride owns Morgan Fitzgerald’s and Merle Norman located at 3800 S. Texas Avenue, one mile north of University Drive. (979) 268-0608