When I was sixteen, fresh out of junior high and on my way into high school, my mother brought me a bag as a graduation gift. «A new bag for your new life,» she said as she presented me with a beautiful black bag with enough space for everything this new chapter in my life would entail. Throughout high school and university I have always been thinking that whenever I graduated from university, when I had completed my masters degree, I would buy myself a bag. The perfect bag. A new bag for my new life, not only turning chapters, but beginning something brand new. The second part of my trilogy.
I have always been the kind of girl who didn’t have a lot of stuff. My wardrobe has never been stuffed with clothes I never use, and buying things on impulse has never really been my thing. My grandfather enjoys telling me how stubborn I have been ever since my personality started shining though as a baby. How I have always known what I wanted, and in a fierce and unapologetic way, gone for it. I don’t want to settle for less than exactly what I know that I want, and I will much rather wait, and work hard to get there, than to spend money or time on something that I know that I will never fully love. I will rather wear a cotton tote bag until I find the right bag, than to buy something I’m not fully sure about in the meantime.
If I find something I want, I’ll investigate the market for similar items, go back to visit my desired piece in the store several times, and only make a decision when I know that I’m completely sure that I’m not just infatuated, but properly head over heels in love. This has always been my philosophy when it comes to consumption: I’ll only buy something if I’m sure that I’m going to love it. Really, really love it. That it compliments my collection, and brings something new and exciting that I couldn’t get from anything else. I love to think about the way I consume as being someone curation a collection of items, just like an art collector or gallery. Finding pieces that compliment each other, something that together will bring a deeper meaning to the collection as a whole. That’s why I have never been obsessed with brands, but rather obsessed with finding the right pieces.
When I saw this beautiful Saint Laurent bag, I had been looking for it for years, and suddenly it was there. A perfect bag. THE bag. My bag. The bag that was going to be a part of my new beginning, and forever tie me to that feeling I had when my mother gave me that gift eleven years ago. After having visited the bag in the store again and again, talked to the very sweet YSL employees, and decided to get it, I was telling the sales associate that I had never spent that much money on a bag before, and that I though that it was quite a stretch. She told me that I was being silly, that it was by far the cheapest Saint Laurent bag I could possibly get, that it was cheaper than some of the tiny party bags they have, that I should see it as a bargain; to get something from YSL for that price. I was so annoyed by that comment I didn't even bother telling her what I though about just that. She wouldn’t get it, and I didn’t get the bag that day. Because it’s not about it being a Saint Laurent bag, it’s about the Saint Laurent bag being THE perfect bag, and there is a huge difference between those two things.
Conscious consumption is not just about buying sustainable items. It’s also about making conscious decisions when it comes to how much we buy, and most importantly it’s about our attitude towards what we buy. Buying something because of it’s brand value is the primary fuel that the high end fashion brands run on, and probably always will, but as consumers we need to see past that. I would never buy a Saint Laurent bag because it was a Saint Laurent bag. I bought it because the piece itself represents value that stretches far beyond that, as a contribution to my carefully curated collection, as a perfect embodiment of this huge step I’m taking, a closing of a circle that started when I was sixteen. And that’s worth so much more than it being a bag from a highly regarded french luxury brand.
Conscious consumption is all about attitude. It’s about recognizing all the different layers of value in an item, and it’s about only purchasing items that you know that you will love, and use. Things that will be an extension of you, an expression of your identity. We bought this bag together, my mother and I. As a graduation gift from her and me, to me. It feels like it has brought things full circle, and I feel confident that I’m going to love and use this bag for a very long time. Because even though it’s brand new, it already possesses value that an impulse buy would never live up to, I have waited for it for more than a decade.
This perfectly curated addition to my collection feels just right.