Designers Charge Women More For Handbags Than Men (What?!)

Sexist pricing policies are no new thing. Retailers around the world, from Monoprix in France to Walgreens in the US, have been accused of marking up women's goods in recent years and this price discrimination trend has become particularly obvious in fashion.

The most obvious example? Designer handbags.


In the Purse Blog's article, 'We Did The Math,' writer Amanda Mull shares the results of her "informal study" which compares 10 bags from the same designers' men's and women's collections. Of course, these bags aren't all exactly the same, but Mull carefully selected bags that are similar in leather, size and shape.

"Because men's bags are usually larger, I broke it down even further by calculating the price per cubic inch of each bag," writes Mull. "That way, we'd know how much designers were asking per unit of bag real estate, no matter how much or how little the particular consumer chose to buy."

Mull was right - the men's bags are larger. But they're also cheaper with an average price of of £1.38 per cubic inch (women pay £1.65 per cubic inch.) That's an average price disparity of over £121 for two bags of the same size.

However, it seems the more similar they are in design, the more likely it is there'll be a price difference. For example, while Givenchy's men's and women's totes (above) are almost identical, the styles aimed at female consumers have the higher price tag (it will set you back around £1,453.)

Bottega Veneta

Bottega Veneta and Alexander McQueen actually charge their male customers more per cubic inch with their Flap Messenger (above) and Heroine/Heroic bags - but these bags are different in their design.

So, what's the reason for this imbalance? Mull sums it up brilliantly.

"We're more desensitized to fashion prices than men are, and we're socialized to care more about the bag we carry as a statement of socioeconomic success," she writes. "Most affluent men are still somewhat reluctant when it comes to fashion, and brands may need to lure them in before they can ratchet up prices in the same way that they have for women."

See the full list of bags in the Purse Blog's study here and for more expensive accessories, see the line up below: