Handbag Sticker Shock? Try These 10 Entry-level Luxuries Instead

Price increases on high-end handbags have become public fodder that rivals the latest celebrity divorce scandal.

PurseBop, an online forum for luxury collectors, has been publishing like-for-like data on bag prices for 11 years, but those articles have seen a “huge surge in readership lately,” said founder Monika Arora. “Everyone wants to know what they’re going to have to spend to get the bag that’s on their wishlist.”

Hermès and Chanel rolled out their latest price increases at the start of 2024, citing inflation and rising production costs, while Burberry, Comme des Garçons, Louis Vuitton and Phoebe Philo are offering costlier bags with niche or artisanal details geared toward the 1 percent.

A Kelly Double-Tour bracelet from Hermès, $630.

Corutesy of Hermes

For those without unlimited funds (or even those who have them), resale is an alternative, but much of the allure of designer goods is the in-store experience. According to shopping expert Isabel Bazzani, “aspirational customers get a lot more excited about that because it’s rarer for them.”  

In many cases beauty has become the token for entry-level luxury with brands like Prada beefing up their cosmetics lines, but aspirational customers tend to use “girl-math” when determining value. “They’re really all about use-per-wear,” Bazzani explained, and fragrances and lipsticks are meant to be used up. She recommends small accessories and practical ready-to-wear styles as “really the way to go.”

A nylon headband from Prada, $495.

Luckily, the iconographic elements of hero bags often trickle down into entry-level products. Take Prada, which uses the same industrial nylon as its star backpack for hats and hair accessories, or those aforementioned French houses Hermès and Chanel: The former has found clever uses for its Kelly bag’s Touret clasp in fashion jewelry and the latter featured its Medium Classic in print form for a scarf. 

Lifestyle categories like swim and tech can also be treasure troves for luxurious, cost-effective merchandise with myriad uses. Burberry’s tartan maillot doubles as a bodysuit with a little creative styling, while a phone pouch from Celine could eliminate the need for a full-size bag at all.

Entry-level accessories from luxury brands

A phone pouch from Celine, $690.

Corutesy Photo

Flip through for 10 (moderately) affordable alternatives from the brands playing hardest to get.


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