As a preface, this bag was probably my most mulled-over purchase to date. I'd like to think that every one of my larger purchases are carefully-considered, but unfortunately, some of them could've used more thought and research on alternatives. I've been trying to shop more deliberately, which starts with discovering what the biggest "voids" are in my closet. I realized early this year that many of my work and casual outfits could use a simple brown, medium-sized bag. I needed one that was durable, lightweight, and preferably weather-resistant. I fell in love with Prada's Saffiano tote, and spent half a year trying on all the options, scouring the pre-owned market, and looking for any small ways to save. There was no rush to buy, and ultimately I ended up with something that I am in love with and do not regret (so far, anyways).
Change to "HD" (4th button in from bottom right) for better quality:
What exactly is "Saffiano" leather? I couldn't find any authorized information directly from Prada, but this thread on The Purse Forum contains some member opinions that sound right. Based on that thread and a few other articles, Saffiano leather is apparently heat-treated leather embossed with a cross-hatch pattern for increased durability, scratch-resistance, and water-resistance. Several other handbag designers use it as well.
There are so many sizes and variations of this bag that I often get confused, but the sizes that I have tried on include..
**Prices are as of 9/2012 and will probably change**
Mini Double Zip w/ strap - 7" x 10" x 4.15" - $1520
Small Double Zip w/ strap - 8.25" x 11.5" x 5" - 1730
Medium Double Zip w/ strap - 9"x 15" x 5.5" - $1810
Medium Double Zip no strap - 10" x 14.5" x 6" - $1960
Large Double Zip no strap - 12" x 15.75" x 6.75" - $2100
Open Tote no strap- I've seen a range of online measurements and don't know exactly which one is right...approximate size is 10" x 14" x 7" - $1730
Trying on various sizes to find the most proportionate one (for reference, I am about 5 feet tall):
Top left: Medium #2 double zip tote in caramel, medium #1 double zip tote in cammeo
Top right: Open tote in caramel
Below: Open tote in cammeo (for some reason, this one definitely looks wider than the caramel one above)
Issues: As mentioned in my video, I am not a fan of the nylon logo lining nor the less structured base. The base, however, should be an easy fix with a base shaper. A bigger issue that I did not mention in my video is the inconsistency of quality I've personally experienced. In the photo directly above, the front panel leather looks almost wrinkled - I thought it was a bag that had been used and returned. And out of the two double zip totes I ordered, one was perfect but one also had a slightly wrinkled front panel. I am disappointed that a product at this price point does not have better quality control. That being said, the bags I've seen in-store did not have this issue, so perhaps mine were flukes.
The open tote easily fits a 15" laptop, small makeup bag, wallet, plus baggie for shoes:
Where to Buy
After I decided on the size/style/color combo, I combed eBay extensively for a pre-owned bag that fit the bill. There are so many options available with this tote that it was hard to find the exact one on the secondhand market. I am also not an expert in gauging Prada authenticity via photos, and was worried about purchasing a counterfeit. The similar ones I watched on eBay went for about $1,200-$1,400, so it was a lot to pay for the risk of unauthentic merchandise, plus not getting the exact bag sought.
As a result, I decided to go the retail store route but still wanted to look for small savings. Saks offers a 10% off coupon for signing up for their emails, but the exact combination I wanted is not available on their site. Many stores also offer a small discount for new credit card holders, but I did not want to go that route this time. I ended up buying mine from Neiman Marcus at full price, but Elle (searching for a camel tote as well) alerted me of a similar 10% off promo that NM was running at that time, so I repurchased with that discount. Unfortunately, that promo ended a while back.
Relatively Lower-Priced Alternative
Ever since I started looking at Prada's Double Zip Tote, a few readers have suggested Tory Burch's rendition - the Robinson Tote. This bag is also made of Saffiano leather and comes in a variety of colors, including "luggage" brown. At 10" x 16" x 5.5," it is approximately comparable to Prada's larger medium size but has a detachable strap, and has the same inside compartments.
Tory Burch Robinson Tote, $595
Readers - Do you own a Prada Saffiano tote? If so, please share your thoughts on it and whether you've encountered any issues over time.