(image via Ruelala)
So I just got an email today from the PR company that represents flash sale site Ruelala promoting a Birkin bag giveaway. The email smartly started off by proclaiming that it wasn't a ploy or a tease or a pitch, but a legitimate contest where the prize is one of three vintage Hermes Birkin bags valued at over $13,000 each. I had to read it twice anyway because I did truly believe that it was spam. I mean, who can afford to give away Birkins?!
As with most contests such as this one, you have to sign up for a membership, which in Ruelala's case is just creating a login, referring five friends and tagging the company on twitter. None of that is necessary for me. I've been a member of Ruelala for several years and it is hands down one of my favorite flash sale sites. I've actually had to take weeks off from the site because I was experiencing a sort of flash sale psychosis that resulted in me obsessively buying items that I would normally debate about purchasing in a brick-and-mortar because the very thought of them not being available if I decided I wanted them later was just too much to bear. Whew! Flashbacks. Think flash sale withdrawal is easy? Think again. When you have it bookmarked on your computer, daily email blasts, iPhone apps and mobile notifications, it's actually quite hard to break away from the habit. I have many unworn shoes, tagged clothing and not to mention the eBay account I had to create to sell some of the stuff I would never wear to remind me not to backslide. But I digress. This is not what I wanted to talk about.
What I really wanted to talk about were the emotions I felt when I read the details of the contest. The best way I can describe it was elation that there was a chance I could actually own a Birkin, then fear that if I won I could actually own a Birkin. I'm sure you're wondering exactly what that means. I mean, who in their right mind wouldn't be overjoyed to own an authentic and unattainable handbag that is for all intents and purposes the symbol of the super-luxury lifestyle? Well ladies and gentlemen. Let me be the lone person in the room to raise my hand.
When I think of owning a handbag that has legitimately earned the title 'iconic', I feel excitement and glee. However, when I think of carrying said bag, I am entirely and altogether intimidated. Yes. Intimidated. And if I had to take a stab at it. I'd guess that there is a large, but silent majority that walks with me on this point. For those that don't get it, let me explain. My wardrobe consists of a mix of high/low items, I own luxury handbags and shoes from Gucci, DVF and Louis Vuitton, but I also stock my closet with fast fashion and high street brands like H&M and ASOS. I think my wardrobe suits my lifestyle perfecly and I am comfortable in it. I'm not rich by any means. As a matter of fact, by New York City standards, I am working class. $13,000 could pay my rent for at least 8 months and every once in a while I'll see a minus in front of my checking account reminding me that a bottomless pit of money I am not. So how could this girl who sometimes walks out of the house in beat up black converse and ripped jeans effectively pull off a $13,000 bag. The answer. She can't. Let's face it boys and girls. Aspirational lifestyles are great. But it is not hard to spot someone who is fake jaking it. And that's what I would be doing. Fake jaking it. I'm an avid subway rider. Could I carry a $13,000 bag on the number 2 train? Won't people wonder why I'm not in an Aston Martin with my wealthy boyfriend? When I'm strolling down the street and I'm eyeballed by fashionistas, won't they wonder why my shoes don't have a red sole or why my nails aren't expertly manicured. I imagine that carrying it I will experience the "hate-watching" so expertly described in NY Mag's The Cut blog regarding the fashion circus and it's obsession with street style. For sure, I will at least get a few of the "it's a fake from Canal Street" looks. I'm guilty of drinking that brand of haterade myself. Will I feel the need to max out my credit cards to fit a lifestyle around this outrageously expensive bag just so I can carry it?
In the end, I may not be speaking for everyone. Maybe most of you would happily traipse around carrying a bag you clearly can not afford, rest assured in the knowledge that it is one hundred percent real even if no one believes you. As for me, as my income grows my tastes grow with it and fortunately, my maturity. That, my friends should be the way of things. I aspire for a luxury lifestyle like most of us that have migrated to this great big fashion catwalk. However, I am content to let that happen without a huge leap into a lifestyle I couldn't possibly maintain.