Kitty Blackadder

A Scottish blog about making art, too much eyeshadow and becoming a grown up.

Monday, 16 January 2017

My First Conscious Purchase

Don't panic, I don't plan to write an essay every time I buy cotton wool or toothpaste, but seeing as how this was the first kind of 'big' thing I had to purchase since making my decision to quit fast-fashion, I thought it might be nice to talk a little about my thoughts and what led me to purchase what I did.

This wasn't so much a planned purchase - financially speaking, this would not have been the time I woud have chosen to do this - but I wasn't left with much of a choice after my everyday handbag made it clear it was falling apart, very, very quickly. It was a cheap handbag from Primark (my last ever!), and the strap was falling off, the lining was literally torn to shreds, the stitching was coming away at the bottom... you get the picture, I'm sure: it needed replaced.

Damson large push lock bag - Cambridge Satchel Co

So what were my criteria when it came to shopping to replace it:

1. Not from a fast fashion store.
2. Bag I can use everyday for literally just my phone, wallet, keys etc. (I have a much larger bag for carrying books/groceries or that kind of thing).
3. Because I only want to own one little handbag, it had to be something dressy enough to wear on a night out, smart enough for a job interview, but casual enough that it won't look silly worn with jeans and Converse.
4. Budget was about £50.
5. Has to be black for flexibility and versatility.

Given the rather paltry budget I had to work with (at least, as far as the world of handbags goes...), my first thought was to thrift this, but as I nipped off to charity stores on my lunch break I was finding nothing that could be worn on every occasion, nothing that I liked frankly. I also kind of felt that I would rather find one 'perfect' bag and use it for years than pick one out at the charity store and hate it, and be looking to swap it out six months from now.

So I started looking at the Ethical Market website, and they have some seriously beautiful stuff.  I came very close to purchasing this (in black) - because it seems ethically amazing, but deep down I just knew it would feel too casual for job interviews and that sort of thing. I also loved the look of this, this and this but knew that their colours and patterns really wouldn't fit in well with my existing wardrobe, in terms of style as much as colours - and this had to go with everything.

Cambridge Satchel Co handbag

I also realised that I was far more drawn to leather bags than any of the more budget vegan options available, you certainly get some beautiful vegan 'leather', but I wasn't finding much in my price range! If I'm honest, I still don't feel I know enough about the leather industry to really decide how I feel one way or another - I mean, is it bi-product or unnecessary harm? If anyone has some good resources to learn about this, please let me know in the comments.

So, somewhat at a loss, I decided to have a general browse online to just get a feel for what I liked, and so I looked at the Cambridge Satchel Co.'s website because I've always loved their bags and dreamed of owning one. They're so simply made that they're elegant and understated while at the same time being durable and personal. They were definitely the dream bags.

It was Christmas Day (my one day off over the festive period *sob*) that I was looking and they'd started their sale, a lot of the bags were 30% off! I hadn't gone to the site thinking for a second that I could afford anything or indeed would even think of buying something, but then the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.

Erin from My Green Closet on YouTube talks about how difficult it can be to find fashion that meets ALL of your ethical criteria. That sometimes you have to figure out what's most important to you and go with that, and I think that's what happened here. Ethically speaking, I wanted something that was sustainably sourced, made by people paid a fair wage in a safe environment and I wanted something made to last so that I could break out of my awful bag-a-year fast fashion cycle - in some ways, I think that last one was the biggest for me right now. I just so want out of the fast fashion cycle. The reality was, a bag from Cambridge Satchel Co. met a lot of those needs, as well as all of my colour/style/practicality/wanting-to-love-it-if-I'm-going-to-see-it-every-day-for-5-years-needs.

Cambridge Satchel Co Damson Push Lock

Kenny (fiance) sat with me and we talked and costed things out. In the end we felt that the fact we don't know about the origins of the leather or it's tanning process is unfortunate, however we do know that the bags are made here in the UK by a small(ish) family run business - employees are respected and paid fairly. Given that the bags don't have a lot of studs, tassells and doo-dads. not only are they easier to wear with varying outfits, but this combined with the stiff leather they're made from means they should really last a long time - so I should as a result consume a lot less bags over a given period, and of course, therefore produce less waste.

So in the end I purchased a bag from Cambridge Satchel Co. that night. I chose one of the Large Push-Lock Bags in Damson - I surprised myself by not going for the black! I was so, so adamant it HAD to be black, but it was actually Kenny that suggested that with an (almost) all black wardrobe (especially with winter outerwear and boots), maybe a still neutralish-colour would be nice to break things up, and also make the bag feel more special because it would be different from the 12,000 black bags I've owned before. So, damson it is!

Large Damson Push Lock Bag

Price wise, it was reduced from £100 to £70 ( at the time of writing, it is actually further reduced *sob*), which I felt was a great price, although still a little over my initial budget. Kindly, Kenny offered to pay for half as my birthday gift (my birthday is a few weeks away, but I can't think of anything else I would want as much as I both want and need this!).

So far, I absolutely love the bag; it is the PERFECT size for me and I feel so grown up when I use it - it's definitely something that brings me joy. I'm also making sure to empty it at the end of each day and keep it stored in its dust-bag - plus, I have to learn how to care for leather, since I've never owned a proper leather bag before!

Cambridge Satchel Co Dust bag

So here's to what will hopefully be a long and wonderful friendship between me and my little damson bag!

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