Monday, July 14, 2014

Michael Kors: Cash or Credit?

Michael Kors everywhere

In case you havent noticed, Michael Kors bags seem to be everywhere in Australia these days.

If you google a basic medium size tote with no bells & whistles, prices go upwards of $1,000.  Yet we seem to be able to buy them for $300 - $400 at the department store & other full price outlets.

What is going on?
Is Australia that much cheaper?

The answer is “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
The comparison of the $400 bag and the $1,000 bad is like comparing apples & oranges.

The $1,000 bags are the Michael Kors main line.
The $400 bags are from the cheaper diffusion line, MICHAEL MICHAEL KORS.

Michael Kors also has a KORS MICHAEL KORS line however it doesn’t seem to be doing bags at the moment.

The leather difference

Like any diffusion label, the biggest compromise is on the material because that’s where the greatest portion of the cost lies. For bags, it’s the leather.

The Michael Kors bag has a calf leather which is soft to the touch. Not nappa soft, just soft. As you use this, it will develop a patina which is what makes good leather wear beautifully.  Of course you need to be careful of colour transfer on light colours and to clean it regularly before grim builds up.

The MICHAEL MICHAEL KORS (MICHAEL) is “saffiano” leather. Saffiano is a coated leather which has an embossed cross hatch design making it hard to touch but extremely resistant to scratching & tearing. It almost has the same vibe as the Louis Vuitton monogrammed bags (which are coated in plastic).

I could not find on any site (& I looked at many), what the actual animal was which donated the leather for the MICHAEL bags. There is no mention of it – simply “saffiano”.

Saffiano is not to be treated with anything that rubs into the surface. No creams. But I have heard that baby wipes can work as a surface cleaner, even though the bag is designed not to dirty like normal leather.

Prada saffiano

Prada has been doing saffiano for a long time – with the same cross hatch design. But a similar tote from Prada costs around $1,000. No surprises that the Prada saffiano clearly states in its listings that the bag is made of “calf saffiano”.

This leads me to one conclusion – that the MICHAEL bags are bonded leather – that’s all sorts of leather sliced & pounded together to form the main body. This could easily explain the price difference. 

Think of a MICHAEL bag as the pressed chicken of bags. I will ask one of the local stores about this & report bag.

Reinforcing & structure

The Michael Kors bag has much better reinforcing & it comes up at each side providing curved “corners” which resist wear much much much better than the very angular corners of the MICHAEL. It also provides a stronger base - nothing looks worse than a buckling tote base.

The other big difference with saffiano is that it’s stiff & if used for a large item which isn’t filled out, the surface of the bag starts to ripple after a short while. This is a classic tote issue and is seen in the next photo.  

Saffiano leather rippling viewed from the base

Frankly, I don’t like the way this looks after a bit of use. However for wallets & briefcases, it’s ideal as their outers are reinforced with internal scaffolding.


I think The MICHAEL handles look cheap in that they flop around where buckled on the bag – the Michael Kors is far more streamlined.


There are posts on the net about Prada saffiano leather peeling. I am not aware of how long it may take for this to happen, but saffiano is treated with a top layer & down the track, this may be inevitable. However it's seems akin to car window tinting bubbling - which you would imagine is fault & not a wear & tear issue. 
All I can say is KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS.  


The bags have a lot of similarities – both have feet, both have a large open lined section, pockets, a zipped pocket.
The MICHAEL has the traditional circle MK bauble while the Michael Kors has the rectangular plate.


The purpose of this post is not to suggest you don’t buy the cheaper MICHAEL. It’s to make you aware why it’s so cheap & that when you were comparing prices I want you to be realistic about the quality you are buying for that price.

Please don't forget the SIA mantra "You get what you pay for."


  1. Perfect timing for this post, thank you! I am off to the USA next week and have been researching Michael Kors bags as I am after a new work bag. And my version of a travel souvenir is a handbag. Your level of detail has explained why I could see that they were different (gleaned from research fondling in department stores) but couldn't get any sensible answers from the sales assistants.

    Have a lovely day.

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