For the past three years, all of us at Closet Couture have been loyal readers of Bagsnob.com, checking in daily to get the low-down on every woman’s accessory obsession – the handbag. From hobo to messenger to animal skin and patent leather, co-founder Tina Craig and her bag-savvy staff of experts give us the daily scoop on which bags to buy and why. With just a matter of days left until our Birkin bag giveaway, we couldn’t think of a more appropriate time to sit down with Tina for a chat about her amazing Birkin collection and why she thinks it is the most renowned handbag of all time.
Click below to enter Tina Craig’s closet!
1) Bagsnob has become known as a “go-to” site for an incredibly well-edited and sophisticated look at the fashion and accessories all around us. How did the idea come about for creating the business?
My partner's husband suggested we start a blog. I think he was tired of listening to our hour-long phone conversations about shopping. Kelly (my partner) and I have been shopping partners in crime since our college days and fashion has always been our number one passion.
2) You travel the world and scour the web hunting for the next best thing. Which city or site is your favorite for unearthing rare treasures?
Paris! It is a magical city full of hidden treasures. I was wandering in an obscure neighborhood one day looking for a candy store and happened upon a small vintage shop full of Hermés bags, fur coats and many other amazing things!
3) Tell us about one of your most remarkable shopping experiences.
I've had so many…. But none compare to shopping in a designer's showroom with the aid of the designer! I am fortunate to have access to designers such as Oscar de la Renta (one of my all time favorites). I was invited to his showroom the day after the Fall 2007 runway show and I tried on clothes fresh off the runway — imagine Oscar de la Renta telling you that something looks fabulous on you. I mean, you pretty much have to buy it. You've just been given the golden seal of approval!
4) Tell us about your first fashion memory.
My grandmother is the original Bag Snob, she favored crocodile handbags and custom-made clothing (always of the finest silks and cashmeres). My first fashion memory was when she took me to her tailor to have my clothes custom-made – I even had “play dresses” for the park. Grandmother did not believe in blue jeans (to this day she frowns if I show up in jeans).
5) Describe your personal style. Which designers rule your closet?
I'm a bit of a chameleon. Depending on my mood, I can be found in a $12 vintage dress (with a Birkin Natch) or in a fabulous Oscar de la Renta cocktail dress. Right now I am obsessed with RM by Roland Mouret and own many of his dresses, skirts and tops.
6) How do you like to shop? Do you prefer going with friends or alone?
I like shopping online at Net-a-porter or Vivre– especially at midnight when the house is asleep and no one is distracting me! At boutiques, I prefer to shop alone– I am an efficient and fast shopper plus I don't need the approval of friends– I always know what I like and what looks good on me. I only shop with girlfriends for social reasons; there is something very therapeutic about being with a girlfriend or two, hanging out in the dressing room and trying on clothes while gossiping. For some reason we feel comfortable revealing deep dark secrets in a dressing room. I mean your cellulite is hanging out for all to see, so I guess there is no reason to hold up any other pretenses.
7) Whose closet would you love to raid?
Do you have any advice or rules when buying a new bag?
Absolutely. First take stock of your current bag collection. If you have 5 black totes, it's time to add something colorful. When you're at the store, put your wallet, cell and keys in the bag and see how heavy and functional it is. Does it slip off your shoulder? Does it fit in the crook of your arm easily? How accessible is your cell phone? Check both outer and inner lining and make sure there are no rips or loose strings in the seams. And use my 5 bag rule: The tote, the travel, the treasure (an exotic), the clutch and the trend. You should have a bag in each of these categories. Lastly, do you really love it? If it's an expensive bag, wait a couple of days. If you're still thinking about it– get it!
9) You are famous for your amazing and extensive Birkin collection. Tell us about your first bag; where did you get it, how long ago, and do you still love it?
My first designer bag was a Gucci bag with a matching wallet my mother gave me when I was 17 years old. Unfortunately, I've lost track of it. There have been hundreds of bags since then… though I think of it often and wish I still had it. My first Birkin was about 11 years ago. I saw a green Kelly bag in the window at Hermés and stopped in to ask about it. It looked like something my grandmother had. The director of the store was very kind and sat with me for over 30 minutes explaining the leathers and how meticulously they were made by hand. I don't think she realized the impact she had on me. I was 27 and buying trendy Prada and Gucci bags each season, andI swore right there and then to start collecting Hermés bags. My first Birkin was tan with white stitching. I still love it and use it often.
10) Why do you think the Birkin is such a highly coveted handbag? Is there one you are still dying for?
I think the Birkin represents something that we all aspire to– timeless and ageless chicness– it's the perfect bag. It's an instant status symbol of course but for serious collectors, it's so much more. Serious collectors love the heritage and tradition of the Hermés craft; we stare at the stitching and marvel at the perfection of the seams. I have friends who also collect and we spend hours discussing the different leathers, the double stitching, the way the tissues are folded inside the boxes, etc. It's a sickness, really. Of course, I am always dying for a new Hermés bag. Right now, I'd give anything for a crocodile Birkin in violine– the most divine color.
11) If you had to shop at one store for the rest of your life, where would it be?
Bergdorf Goodman. They have everything, don't they?!?!?