I would not call myself an impulse shopper. Usually, each purchase I make is considered, well-researched, and planned against each paycheck. As a sufferer of intense buyer’s remorse, it’s just how I safeguard myself from feelings of regret after big purchases.
So sometime in 2018, when I decided it was time for a new everyday handbag, I put in the work. I invested hours upon hours of time stalking my favourite brands, reading up on their brand values (because it’s important to me as a consumer to feel aligned in the ethics department), and adding bags to cart only to ghost them and leave them hanging.
And then I found the one. I believe it was a reverse image search of a picture of someone whose fashion I admired that led me to the site of the French label Polène, but it was genuinely love at first sight (something I didn’t believe in until the very moment I landed on the homepage).
At this point, the label had only been around for two years and I can recall only four silhouettes available via the online store. The brand has now released eight different silhouettes, though not all of them are still around to purchase. It’s actually something that drew me into the brand; the fact they don’t mass produce and have limited runs of each product to maintain buyer exclusivity and prevent an overflow of stock. Once a bag is gone, it’s gone; the label won’t make it again.
The company is also kept very small. Polène was founded in 2016 by two brothers and a sister, and though they’ve grown since first launching, the owners have outlined their intention to keep their label intimate to ensure they can exhibit as much control over their products as possible.
All of this made the bag feel more special to me, and so when I finally processed my order and handed over the some $500 for the piece of my choosing, the Numèro Un Mini in Monochrome Noir (choosing a colour was a whole other debacle that required countless friend opinions), I felt not a shred of guilt — only pure excitement for my package to arrive from Paris.
And when it did, I have to admit I was blown away again. The quality exceeded my expectations and I had fashion-conscious colleagues surrounding me for the grand unboxing. I felt like a YouTuber doing a haul, only I had just one item in front of me and I didn’t need anything else. I was so happy. And actually, I’ve never been as happy with a purchase since.
Polène Paris works with renowned French, Italian and Spanish tanneries for their leather goods to ensure the quality is next to none. For metallic details, the label uses zamak or brass with a gold finish; the threads used in the construction process are made in France by Gutterman, and their bags are all finished entirely by hand. It’s a work of art.
Two years later, after coming with me absolutely everywhere, and every single day; after countless nights on the dancefloor, four overseas trips, a million and one cafe dates, and my less-than-glamorous-but-still-relevant everyday commute to work, the bag holds up.
My Numèro Un Mini shows almost zero signs of wear. The structure stands strong with very little softening, the gold chain has never tarnished or transferred on my clothing, and the gold half-moon front fastening has only minor scratches. I still receive more compliments on this bag than anything I’ve ever purchased.
I haven’t really felt the need for a new day bag since purchasing this one, though the label has so many new silhouettes that I’m desperate to also own. Specifically, I have my eye on the Numèro Six. It’s a beautiful and sculptural piece with a wide wrist strap to free the hands entirely, and is a very reasonable $320.
Knowing the superior quality and impeccable customer service, I would feel no hesitation in adding another piece from the Polène collections to my own. And so I just might take the plunge again.