I've Been Collecting Bags for 33 Years—These Are the 7 I'd Buy Again and Again

Before the world that revolves around Instagram and TikTok influencers existed, there was the fashion blog. One of the first blogs to make it big was BagSnob.com. Tina Chen Craig's love for finding the next best designer handbag led to the site's creation and the lifestyle brand that followed right behind it. This journey began for her in 2005 and led to her being a forever-loved cultural icon in the fashion world, later becoming the founder of a beauty brand with a cult-following, UBeauty.

The holiday season is the perfect time for big investments. Whether you're shopping for yourself or a loved one, this is truly the time of year that the designer bags are flying off the shelves. It would be a dream come true for me to treat myself to something special this year, so while I'm surveying my options, I decided to call in for help. Since Craig's bag collection is so incredibly robust, I decided to ask her which designer bags are actually worth buying.

Craig started off by telling me the story of her first designer bag: "I received the Gucci Camera bag with a matching wallet when I was 17 from my mother. After that, I started collecting seriously in 1993 when I graduated from college. Every penny I made went to skincare and handbags!"

That first Gucci bag sparked quite a fascination, as it led to her famous collection of everything from Hermès to Staud. As she told me about her process of collecting bags, I found it similar to that of an art collector. "I approach purchasing investment bags differently from most. I am more of a bag historian," she says. "I like doing a deep dive into what the brand is best known for, as opposed to opting for the of-the-moment bags that are selling like hotcakes. I associate investment pieces with an element of timelessness and classicism. Chances are the brands will continue to reissue their most iconic styles—as bag history has shown us."

1. Hermès Kelly

"The Birkin's elder (and often less celebrated) sibling is the reason the house originally went into bags. Initially created as a saddle carrier in the 19th century, it was redesigned into a smaller portable handbag in the 1930s. Twenty years later, Grace Kelly famously wore it to hide her pregnancy, instantly and eternally anointing it as the Kelly. I think Hermès's smaller sizes are not only chicer but easier to carry. They also happen to hold investment value better than their larger counterparts."

"My first one was a gift to me from my family in 1991. I was still in college, and it cost around $2000. That same Chanel Classic Flap now? A whopping $8200. I still have that bag and will never part with it! I always say the Chanel Classic Flap served as the blueprint for modern handbags today."

3. Fendi Baguette

"A once-hot It bag of the '90s has cemented its status as an icon among the greats. Can we ever forget the visual of Carrie Bradshaw traipsing on cobblestone streets of New York City clutching her Baguettes? Not to mention when she got robbed for her purple sequin iteration. Lightweight and effortless to use, I'm so glad I've kept a few over the years. I just recently invested in an updated turquoise 25th-anniversary reissue."

4. Prada Cleo

"Another '90s-era fave of mine, Cleo's popularity spans from Gen X to Z, and that's no small feat. The modern version includes an additional crossbody strap that makes it easier to grab and go, versus its less accommodating vintage counterpart. Side note: I also think Prada's nylon and Re-nylon backpacks are a worthwhile investment. I wish I could find my original with gold chains from three decades ago!"

Photo:

Courtesy of Gucci by Maddalena Arcelloni

"Few bags draw instant recognition quite like the Gucci Bamboo 1947, with its distinct top handle and toggle closure. Some may argue the Jackie bag is just as collectible, and they'd be correct. But I just find the Bamboo to be both more functional and unique in its design."

6. Louis Vuitton Petite Malle

Photo:

Getty Images

"For the serious collector, not many bags rival a Louis Vuitton steamer trunk. But such a cumbersome companion doesn't bode well for modern travel. Enter the contemporary yet classic Petite Malle. It takes just as much time and attention to create, but unlike its storied predecessor, it's realistic to carry. Granted, it doesn't hold much (and it's rigidly structured), but some bags are intended to be nothing more than appealing arm candy."

7. Dior Lady Dior

"There are so many bags to choose from, but none are as iconic to the maison of Dior as the Lady bag. Something about its whimsical dangling charms and simple yet elevated shape keeps the ladies coming back for more each season. Bonus if you can get your hands on a super-limited artist edition."