I got to inspect and take photos of this black Céline belt bag (the mini and micro ones are the ones that have cross-body straps, while this regular size one has a shorter shoulder strap) because my sister’s friend had asked us to buy this on her behalf while we were in Europe a few months ago. She selected this medium size, which is around the size of the Mansur Gavriel Lady Bag but with a wider base I think, and in this black textured leather which gives me a sort of Saffiano crosshatch vibe.
Personally, I somewhat like the design of the bag, but not the price and make. After inspecting it, I don’t think it’s worth the 2000+ USD price tag (I think we got this at around €1750-1900, if memory serves). The make is better than Mansur Gavriel’s, but still with a lot of concerning details, such as, after a few weeks of using the bag, my sister’s friend already reported damage in the edge paint (peeling/removal). I don’t have photos of the damage though, because I took these when the bag was still brand new haha.
Above: the back of the bag body with zippered pocket, and 2 small D-rings where the shoulder straps will attach.
Above: notice how small these rings are and how they are only connected to the bag with these tiny stitches. I am doubtful, with a lot of wear and tear and especially if you are someone who is used to carrying a ton of crap in your bag on the daily, whether these stitches will survive. As a general rule of thumb, stitches that attach straps to bags should not run horizontally or in a horizontal line that cuts across the strap–with enough weight/force pulling down, it could eventually act as a perforation and point of failure.
The knot part on the belt
Above: The closure, although secure, is a bit difficult to manoeuvre because in addition to having to slip the flap into the belt, you have to push down and then pull up to get the circle thing into the lock, which didn’t seem that convenient to me. Maybe it’s one of those things you need to get used to?
Above: closure is branded and made of brass
Above: a plus–the “wing” part has edges that are stitched and edge-painted. Compared to Mansur’s, where some bag edges are not stitched together even though it’s a seam. (If you want to see my review of Mansur Gavriel, click here)
Above: The top handle is tapered and stitched with a piece of salpa (a cork-like material which is bonded leather made of recycled leather bits–it is not used as a main bag material but usually used in between leather layers to add structure, thickness, etc.) inside to add heft
Above: Branding hot-stamped in gold leaf on the lower middle portion of the front of the bag
Above: brass carabiner with Céline branding
Above: edges of the shoulder strap
Above: how the top-handle attaches to the bag, and the D-ring where the shoulder strap will attach is behind the top handle
Upon opening the flap, the bag body is zippered partially. The zipper doesn’t cover the extended “flaps” on the sides of the bag. The zipper also holds the bag together, basically, because the shoulder strap and top-handles are only attached to one side of the bag (the back). Not a huge issue unless you always carry a ton of stuff, which could risk the failure of the zipper.
Zipper is brass and the ends are finished with leather
Interior is lined in a suede-like leather with a simple flat interior pocket. You can also see the “U” shaped stitches where the shoulder strap and top-handle are attached.
Interior also features a “Made in Italy” stamp. General precaution and something to think about when shopping for leather goods: “Made in Italy” doesn’t mean “Made by Italians”
Overall, it’s a decently-made but basic tote. Maybe a bit too basic to cost that much money. I also don’t like this finish on the leather. While I understand that, like the Saffiano criss-cross leather, it’s a practical sort of fuss-free finish, it feels cheap and plasticky to me, and doesn’t look or feel luxe. The bag is also quite heavy while empty. And while, upon inspection, everything seemed solid enough, it is a bit concerning that my sister’s friend reported damage within a few weeks of using it (to work and on weekends but she’s petite and doesn’t carry that much stuff).
Compared to say, the Mansur Gavriel Lady Bag, which is about half or a little more than half the price of the Céline Belt Bag, I do appreciate that the Céline has better finishes and details. And if price is not a factor for you, then this seems like a good bag to use for work+going out. Personally, I don’t feel that it’s worth that price, but then again, because it’s a big designer powerhouse brand like Céline (a brand which has enjoyed exponential hype due to several “it” bags in the last few years–like the Boston luggage tote, the box bag, the trotteur, the trapeze, the phantom, etc.), I don’t expect it to be priced ‘reasonably’.
It is, however, priced in the same range as its competitors of the same “level”, so it is, in a way, fair. It is also a lot better value (in this price range) than the Balenciaga city bag, which I loathe and which you can read about here. For the same price, the Céline’s quality and finishing is far superior to the Balenciaga.
And in this same price range and quality, some other good choices would be the Loewe Puzzle Bag, and the Givenchy Antigona. Alternately, a bag that’s of similar quality but is more expensive is the Saint Laurent Sac du Jour (which I will write about in a separate post). And for bags that are of similar quality but cheaper: you may wish to look into Lancel, or Tod’s.
Anyway, let me know your experience with the Céline Belt Bag, and I will also update this post should there be any significant developments in my sister’s friend’s bag usage :))