Happy 4th of July everyone (okay, it is a bit past midnight here now so I suppose it’s technically July 5 but whatever 😛 )!
This will be my third bag review, and it will be of the Prada saffiano double-zip tote. I have only three structured bags – most of my collection is comprised of soft and slouchy bags. I already covered 2 of them – my Givenchy Antigona and Saint Laurent Sac de Jour. The oldest of my 3 structured bags is my Prada saffiano double-zip tote (specific model is BN2316). For the longest time, I would carry only big bags (I call it the Mommy-bag syndrome), but as our daughter got older, I found myself becoming more open to carrying smaller bags. It was during that time I found myself gravitating towards the BN2316. It was small, but not too small – it was not like the mini bags of today (where you sometimes can’t even fit your smart phone in them). I could fit my essentials in it – even my full-sized Prada continental wallet (which is always bulky and full of receipts) and my ginormous phablet. Old habits die hard I suppose, as I later on started getting attracted to bigger bags again (as you have seen in my Antigona and Sac de Jour… but they’re still smaller than my old, truly large ones)… ah, but that’s another story for another time. 🙂 For now, let me share my thoughts on my Prada saffiano tote.
Bag: Prada saffiano double-zip tote
Color: Ottanio (teal)
The Prada saffiano double-zip tote immediately caught my attention. I was attracted to its look – there was something chic and understated about it, even with the Prada logo right in front. Its first appearance was also when the now-ubiquitous saffiano leather was introduced to the world. Prada “invented” the treatment which resulted in saffiano leather (at least, according to my SA 😛 ) – it seems to be true, as no one has quite replicated Prada’s saffiano. Many other designers have released their own versions of saffiano bags (Fendi, Mansur Gavriel, Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Furla, and Coach are just a few that come to mind) – but none of them have been able to capture Prada saffiano’s texture. This could be good or bad, depending on the user – some people actually prefer the softer saffiano of Furla or Fendi’s saffiano as they seem less “plasticky”, as a criticism leveled at Prada saffiano is how, because of its treatment, it doesn’t even feel like leather anymore. Some people actually ask if saffiano is even leather – the answer is yes, it is – it’s just treated, which is why its texture is so different. It is saffiano leather’s texture which makes it pretty much scratch-resistant and more durable than regular leather; however, there are people who prefer their leather to actually look, feel, and smell like leather, so they don’t like saffiano at all. I count among the people who like leather in most (if not all) its forms – saffiano, grained, smooth, you name it, I like it 🙂 I usually just pick which kind of leather to go with based on the bag design – some look better grained, some look better smooth, etc. To me, Prada’s saffiano was a perfect match to its double-zip tote design.
General Features and Usability
The saffiano double-zip tote is a handheld bag that comes with a shoulder strap (I seem to be writing that a lot lately 😛 ). I don’t use the strap of my BN2316 at all – it’s because I usually use my bag for dinners out and not for errands (I tend to use other bags for that). I can see how the strap would be useful to others who use theirs more often though. It’s adjustable, and can be long enough so that you can use the bag cross-body.
The BN2316 is considered mini/small (but not a true mini – the true mini version of the saffiano tote (which is the smallest – not sure what its model name is) is around 45% cheaper than the BN2316 , was released fairly recently (in the past year or two if I recall correctly), and is ridiculously too small for me. The BN2316 is small but in no way too small for my essentials). I find the BN2316 cute and chic, and its size is still quite practical for me. I just have to edit my bag contents a bit – I still have room to spare after putting in my essentials, which is quite surprising. If you want to use the saffiano tote more often, you can check out the other options as it comes in a variety of sizes and models, with the BN1801 being one of the more popular ones for daily use or for the office.
The saffiano leather makes the bag practical for me – I don’t worry too much about water or scratches. My bag already got a bit wet from water that dripped on it one time while we were eating in a restaurant, and I’ve banged it around a bit but it’s still fine.
The bag is really light and easy to carry. When done right, this bag is very usable. As for why I say “when done right”… read on to find out what I mean 🙂
In the beginning, I loved the design of my BN2316. It has one open main compartment in the middle, two zippered compartments, a detachable strap, and the design of the bag over-all was simple and structured – it gave off a professional and classy feel. The design was such a hit that it influenced other designers (especially contemporary ones) – there was a point you could find a version of the Prada saffiano tote’s design in practically every contemporary designer’s arsenal (it still might be the case to this day).
So why did I say in the beginning, I loved the design? Well, I still like the design well enough today, but I must say I no longer love it. I’m not sure if I just got tired of it or what, but I just no longer get that excited at the prospect of using it. I still find it pretty, for sure – but maybe just not gorgeous.
The color of my BN2316 is Ottanio or teal – that is the one trait of my bag which still makes me smile to this day. I love the color! In fact, when I first went to the boutique to purchase mine, I almost left empty-handed since none of the colors were calling out to me. Just as I was about to leave (disappointed, by the way, since I was determined to get one that day), my SA brought out the beautiful Ottanio tote and I almost swooned. It’s really lovely the first time you see it – it’s too bad my pictures can’t seem to capture its beautiful color. Anyway, I made up my mind right then and there, and then went home with a gigantic Prada box and an even bigger smile on my face.
The Prada saffiano totes have the Prada logo jacquard fabric lining which seems to be the brand’s most commonly-used lining in more recent models (ah, how I miss the days of leather-lined Prada bags). It’s fine, but not something I’m particularly impressed with – mainly, there is a feeling of flimsiness to it, like it could get holes quite easily (and I’ve seen some people post pictures of theirs with holes on them so I guess my impression was right); also, it almost seems tacky. I don’t mind logos really (after all, I do own LV monogram pieces so who am I to talk, haha)… I think I just don’t find the execution of the logo found in the lining to be very good. Again, many will not even care since it’s inside the bag so no one will really see it other than the owner… but I’m the owner in this case, I care, and I don’t find myself too fond of the lining.
Quality and Construction
Now, this is the big pain point of the Prada saffiano totes in general. I have heard of many quality issues about this line of bags from Prada, which almost put me off buying one in the first place. I was lucky I had a great SA who worked with me to ensure I found one I was perfectly happy with (at the time) with none of the issues mentioned by others, such as uneven stitching, popped stitching, crooked logo, zippers not zipping smoothly, buttons popping out, buttons not closing properly, etc. Here’s the thing though – as my SA was showing me the different colors and sizes in the boutique, I did notice some issues on some of those bags, so it means quality issues do exist for the saffiano tote. During the first few months of me owning the bag I picked, I was quite happy with it and did not encounter any issues… until the day I noticed the Prada logo on my bag wasn’t PERFECTLY aligned after all. It really isn’t noticeable unless you nitpick, but it’s there. I’m actually surprised I didn’t notice it when I was inspecting the bag in the boutique but I suppose I could chalk it up to my excitement at the time, plus I realized it’s actually more noticeable when you take pictures of it versus when you see it in real life. I could have had it replaced but I already grew attached to it and it did not have any other issues, so I decided to keep it. It proved quite durable as well so I was fine with it. Now I am giving it a low score in this area because of the number of complaints on quality I’ve read/heard of plus those I’ve seen myself when I was going through different bags in the Prada boutique, and finally because of my not perfectly aligned logo 😛 Thankfully mine has no other issue but still – to even have to go through the pains of finding a “good” bag is a big minus in this area. Most brands will have some lemons but if the complaints are too often, too loud (and I’ve seen them justified with my own two eyes), to the point wherein the default mode is not a high quality product but the opposite… that’s concerning and worth taking note of. To be fair, many have also said theirs are perfectly fine, but again – there have been too many complaints, and I’ve seen these issues myself. For the readers’ benefit, I’ve included a picture of the logo of a Prada saffiano tote zoomed in from the Saks website as an example – see that the ‘P’ is considerably lower than the ‘R’ and the other letters. This is worse than the misalignment of mine, and more obvious – and yet it is in Saks’ website 🙂 I wish I could enlarge the picture more so you can see it better, but if you want to see it for yourself, here’s the URL, just select the ‘Cobalto-Blue’ color and zoom in on the logo once or twice: http://www.saksfifthavenue.com/main/ProductDetail.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=845524446241203&R=8034100646099&P_name=Prada&sid=14E5C5EBBB97&Ntt=saffiano+lux+small+tote&N=0&bmUID=kVtcWgt Anyway – it’s really too bad, since I like my own bag a lot for its design and practicality (given mine has held up well, thankfully).
The price has gone up $100 – $200 since I bought it, which might not seem like a lot on paper, but considering the quality issues that have been brought up in the previous section, it is quite surprising to me. There are other bags in this price range (like the Givenchy Antigona for example, or nano Sac de Jour, or Fendi petite 2jours) which are known to have generally better quality. At this point, I do not think the bag is worth its price tag. I know they want to attract a certain type of clientele so they keep their prices high but I think the quality should be up there to match its price. Also, the design of the saffiano tote hasn’t evolved in its years of existence, unlike its peers.
The Prada saffiano tote was first released at least 4 years ago (possibly even before that – I’m really not sure, to be honest. I just know for sure it was already around in 2011). It’s still selling relatively well and some are even branding it a “classic” (not sure I’d go that far). The design is simple and clean enough for it to stay relevant for a while longer.
The Prada saffiano tote is a mixed bag for me. Should you get one without quality issues, it is a solid handbag. The saffiano makes it practical and durable, and the design is streamlined and simple. However with better handbag choices within the same price range coming out in the past few years, this bag no longer seems to be the top choice in its class. If I were to buy a handbag of its kind today within that price range, I would probably pass on the Prada saffiano tote and consider another bag from another designer. Again, the Prada saffiano tote is completely fine (just need to emphasize this – if you get your hands on one without quality issues) – just no longer as covetable given the better options available. Also, even just having to mention the fact you need to make sure the one you get has no quality issues makes you think – for the price, would you have to go to such great lengths to ensure good quality pieces? Wouldn’t that have to be the default mode? The BN2316 is not bad – it’s just not that great, either.
Over-all score: 7.5/10
… And with that, I bid you good-bye for now. My husband and I are bringing our daughter to Florida to celebrate her birthday there next week, and I should be back with another post after that (hopefully). 🙂