Inside the Cost of Farbod Barsum’s $23,980 Isabella Handbag

Leah Bourne

inside the cost of 1 Inside the Cost of Farbod Barsums $23,980 Isabella HandbagWhen Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks started making the rounds carrying Farbod Barsum’s $23,980 Isabella alligator handbag, our curiosity was piqued—why does this bag cost so darned much? A little bit of Googling and the reality set in that buying an exotic skinned handbag these days will cost you a pretty penny, no matter where it’s from. The Row alligator backpack runs a whopping $34,000, while Ralph Lauren’s crocodile Ricky bag will cost you $22,500.
To get the inside scoop on the Isabella, we went to the source, West Hollywood, California based Barsum, to find out what goes in to creating this handbag.
Barsum shared with us: “The inspiration behind the Isabella was the shape of a retro bowling bag, to recreate it with modern couture details and luxurious material.”
One of the reasons that the bag is so pricey is that it demands select sourcing. “This bag requires identical sizing in both the black and silver alligator so there is uniformity in tile size, the scales, which requires a close relationship to the skin supplier,” Barsum said. “Once these skins have been sourced as a raw material, the challenge is then placed on the tannery to create a particular shade of silver unique to this design. It takes several months for this process from start to finish.”
Another major cost is that the bag is produced entirely in the US. “Even the custom hardware, lining, and dust bags are created in the US,” Barsum shared. “There are very few people remaining domestically that have the level of experience and talent required to work with high-end exotics.”
Every panel of the bag is finished with a detail called a “turned” edge, which means there are no raw cut edges. “Very few bag makers, even at the designer level, create bags using turned edges because of the added labor and materials needed,” Barsum said.
The hefty price includes more than just the bag itself. When a customer purchases the Isabella it comes in a custom Jacquard weave monogram dust bag. “The insides are even finished in leather French Binding to cover the seams, just for the dust bag,” Barsum said.
Worried about theft or authenticity? Each bag is stamped with an individual serial number on the inside that corresponds with an ID card, registered with the client’s name to guarantee ownership and authenticity.
As for Barsum’s thoughts on what it takes to get women to spend this much on a bag he mused, “Women are looking for exclusivity more than anything. They don’t want to invest in a bag that can be seen carried by many others.”
Farbod Barsum Isabella bag, $23,980,