Designer bags: From practical use to fashion statement

by Andrew Lang, Seattle Goodwill
December 16, 2016

Women’s handbags have underwent quite the transformation during the past 200 years. While today perhaps the purse is utilized as a fashion statement as much as it is for practical use, the reason for having a bag in tow has never wavered. Its instrumental purpose is carrying important items to and from.

Bags have been utilized for centuries, obviously, but the true evolution of today’s purse derives from the 18th century when women’s clothing transformed, thus producing the reticule—the first real handbag.  

Reticules were made from various fabrics and hung from chords or chains. The 19th Century Industrial Revolution spawned new materials such as papier-mache, iron and polished steel. Those were used to craft new designs, and soon bags were developed for the modern traveler.

The most influential factor in developing today’s common handbag was women’s expanding roles. With society adapting and more women gaining workplace roles, women became more mobile and needed their handbags for practical needs.

Eventually, all sorts of bags were created for various needs. Leather bags were made for office use, more practical plastic bags were made for casual usage and elegant bags and clutches were designed for evening occasions.

The importance of branding emerged during the 20th Century, and with it came the rise of well-known designer brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, Chanel and Versace to name a few.

Quality designer bags are made to last a long time and are an investment, and shopping Seattle Goodwill online or at our eBay store presents a more affordable alternative for those either looking to make a fashion statement or get plenty of use out of a quality bag.

Plus, when you shop online at Goodwill, you’re helping us create jobs for others by providing funding for our free Job Training and Education Programs.

Coach is one of the most common designer bag brands. Here are some tips from Goodwill Online Auctions Lister Jamie Havins on how to decipher a real from a fake:

  1. Stitching: Probably the No. 1 indictor of a fake bag is the intricacy—or lack thereof—in the stitching. If you’re buying a quality product, you should expect some quality effort put into it. Look for many small stitches completed in a clean, straight manner. If the material buckles along the stitching, that’s a red flag.
  2. Signature pattern: Coach bags are notorious for their signature ‘C’ patterning, but one hallmark of the brand is if the patterning is on the exterior, there won’t be any on the interior lining. Many creators of faux bags think, ‘More Cs the better,’ and will plaster the Coach insignia all over the bag.
  3. Check the creed: Coach bags have a stamp on the inside of them called a creed. If the creed is not stamped in very deep, there’s a good chance it’s a fake. Also, if you type in the last four digits after the hyphen on creed, a real purse should pop up online. In real coach creeds, the letters are in all CAPS.   

*History of bags obtained from Tassen Museum of Bags and Purses


Andrew is a Content Specialist for Seattle Goodwill and has a wealth of writing, communication and digital media experience. He loves all things sports related and owns a treasure trove of memorabilia. He also enjoys storytelling, the outdoors and sugar is his kryptonite.

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