There are a few reasons I’d rattle off if anyone (read: nobody) asks me why I’ve yet to do the whole #treatyourself thing by purchasing a designer bag.
But the truth is actually pretty embarrassing – shopping for one is an extremely intimidating for someone as thin-skinned as myself.
Maybe it’s all in my imagination, but the fear of judgement by salespeople and fellow shoppers as I browse is absolutely paralysing.
But then again, if I don’t carry it to see whether or not the bag suits me, how could I possibly commit to the hefty price tag, right?
This is why when Style Theory reached out to let me try Style Theory Bags, their designer bag subscription service, I took it up quicker than I could (accurately) pronounce “Yves Saint Laurent”.
Style, Without The Commitment
Just like its designer clothes subscription service (which my colleague has reviewed here), Style Theory Bags lets customers try out two styles of bags for $129/month.
That works out to 24 bags a year.
The monthly subscription also covers cleaning and maintenance fees and express delivery, meaning that all you’ll need to do is pick the bag you want, wait for it to be delivered to your doorstep, and then send it back when you’re done taking all those #OOTDs.
For the review, the Style Theory team very kindly fulfilled my request and gave me access to 4 bags to try for a month, because I wanted to properly try out as much of their service as I could before penning the review.
A Whole New World
Style Theory Bags is available within the Style Theory app, which is especially convenient for subscribers of both services.
Or perhaps, as an enticing option for subscribers of either to try out the other to ‘complete’ their (already) designer wardrobe.
Off the bat, browsing the collection actually made me feel – at the risk of sounding dramatic – empowered.
By default, the app shows you the bags that are available (i.e. not currently rented by other customers) for picking, but not when the bag you’re eyeing would return.
Which makes sense, since there’s no ‘deadline’ per se that customers need to return the bags they rent.
For one, none of the Off-White bags in their collection were available for rent for the entire review period!
Regardless, I was still spoiled for choice and had a pretty hard time deciding on what I wanted to try out for the review.
There were just over 320 bags available for picking then (though I did notice more options being added over the weeks), and certain brands had more options than others.
Eventually, I settled on one simple rule – that the bags don’t deviate from my usual preference of a more roomy bag that is also versatile enough for any occasion.
The thing about shopping online is that you’re never really certain about how big or small something is, so Style Theory also includes a pretty handy size guide that gives you an idea of what could fit in each bag.
My first choice thus ended up being the Balenciaga Classic City M Address Graffiti.
Arranging For Pick-Up, Getting My Hands On The Bag
Satisfied with my choice, the next step was picking it up.
There were two options for that – I could choose to have the bag delivered to me within 2 working days OR pick it up from one of their two pick-up points.
Eager to try the bag out as soon as I could, I opted to pick it up from WeWork City House the following day.
Locating the pick-up point was simple enough, and a Style Theory roll up banner greeted me once the lift doors opened.
Approaching the friendly Style Theory staff seated at a corner of the WeWork, I collected the bag without any fuss.
The only issue I had was that the package was pretty bulky – mainly due to the box that their designers bags are stored in.
While it’s definitely laudable that Style Theory ensures that the bags are kept in the best condition (especially with all the changing of hands), I did feel self-conscious of the extra space I was taking up on rush hour public transport.
“This Bag Is Worth More Than Me”
According to the team, all bags are photographed 360 degrees in high resolution each time they are sent out and received back at the warehouse, so if you’re sure that a defect wasn’t caused by you, you can be certain that the team is aware of it too.
Every package comes with a ‘condition checklist’, which indicates if there are any pre-existing nicks that one should look out for on the bags.
However, if you do happen to damage a rented bag in any way, you will need to inform the Style Theory team via their in-app chat and arrange for it to be returned for their assessment.
Following which, they will “do their utmost best to repair all damages”, but if third-party services are required, you will need to pay for extra costs.
In the case that the bag is damaged beyond repair, the team will charge you for the bag based on its market value.
Style Theory has also just launched ‘Style Theory Care’, a kind of insurance that lets users rent worry-free by guaranteeing that they won’t have to pay more than S$75 for repairs.
Read more about it here.
Just like what the size guide depicted, I also could comfortably fit everything that I wanted to bring out for the week!
Great Bags And Customer Service, But Courier Failed To Deliver
After a week of trying to see how a designer bag could potentially fit into my (peasant) life, it was time to do the return.
For that, I chose to drop it off personally at WeWork City House as a sort of ‘closure’ to my first Style Theory experience.
Itching to select the next bag to try out, I excitedly opened the app and spent a good hour weighing all my potential options before deciding on the Celine Medium Phantom Dark Red.
However, my mood was dampened when I saw this screen:
Fortunately, I only had to wait for one day before I was informed that I could make a new selection because the Balenciaga was back in the warehouse.
As usual, scheduling for a delivery was straightforward and the earliest I could get it was – like promised – 2 working days from time of selection.
Due to its size, the Phantom came in a huge box, and I can’t forget the relief I felt knowing that I didn’t need to lug it around like my first box.
As gorgeous as the Phantom looked, however, it was a tad too big and bulky and I found myself opting to carry my usual (non-designer) bag on most days.
Once the week was up, I scheduled for a courier to do a pick-up from my office the following day.
Unfortunately, that’s when their courier service failed to ‘WOW’ – pun intended.
Though my pick-up was scheduled for 10 to 2pm, the courier didn’t arrive or provide any updates on his/her location even nearing the end of the work day.
Emailing my contact, she told me that the team was on it, and I promptly got a text from a customer service rep.
Getting the next bag delivered to me went smoothly, but I was once again hit with a delay when I was doing the return.
As advised, I got in touch with a customer service rep via the app and again, got a reply pretty quickly.
As someone who spends pretty much the entire work day based in the office, I was honestly pretty okay with the delays.
However, I would imagine that someone with a schedule that requires them to move from one location to another throughout the day won’t feel the same.
This happened again for the delivery of the next bag, though they did inform me of a potential delay beforehand:
Upon hearing of these delivery issues, the Head of Bags at Style Theory reached out and explained that the driver assigned to the delivery route was new and “his unfamiliarity with the location disrupted the delivery schedule”.
She added that in light of cases like these, they “will be implementing a more robust onboarding process for new drivers”, and will also hold “regular review sessions with all delivery partners to ensure they are fully aware of the proper procedures for a seamless delivery experience”.
We will also require all drivers to take part in frequent refresher training sessions as we continue to monitor and improve Style Theory’s logistics arm.Head of Bags at Style Theory
Delivery did improve from then on, though, and I managed to have my final bag delivered to and returned without a hitch!
Am I A Convert?
Before I knew it, a month flew by and I had lugged $12,000 worth of bags around Singapore.
Did I enjoy my brush with the finer things in life? Definitely.
Did it make me a designer bag convert? Not exactly.
But that’s not the fault of Style Theory, or any of the brands – it really just boils down to personal preference.
As much as I enjoyed having my outfits elevated with some arm candy, I still find myself prioritising functionality/hardiness vs. design/brand value when choosing a bag.
However, I do see how those interested in designer bags will find the platform useful to try out bags and seeing how they fit into their lives before deciding to purchase them.
And as seen in the screenshot below, the price that Style Theory sells the bags at is quite a dip from usual retail price.
Given that this bag was actually one of my favourites from the review, I actually entertained the thought of buying it off the platform, given the huge discount!
If, unlike myself, you’re an owner of one too many designer bags, Style Theory also has an option for you to sell or consign the bags, so you can clear some space in your wardrobe and get 90% commission on rental fees.
Overall, I can safely identify 3 groups of individuals who would benefit from and enjoy what the provides:
- Those who want to try out a certain designer bag before purchasing it;
- Those who want to try out the experience of owning a designer bag;
- Those who already enjoy designer bags, but don’t want to commit to a single brand/style
I’d like to thank the Style Theory team for the super fun experience!
- Find out more about Style Theory bags here.