Review: 3.1 Phillip Lim Pashli Satchel

At the very beginning of my long and passionate affair with designer handbags, I mooned over the Pashli satchel after seeing it several times in the course of a week. At $895, the price tag deterred me for half a year before I bit the bullet. My philosophy on purchasing handbags has always been on the cautious side: stare and admire from afar until you feel like you know exactly how it will fit into your collection and your life.

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Although I feel like the Pashli’s moment on the purse scene passed a few years ago, I still consider it to be one of the few handbags that has outlasted the ‘it’ bag stage and made it into the ‘classics’. Some other great examples are the Givenchy Antigona and the Balenciaga City. For most of these bags, their legacy (if you can call it that) has been cemented in fashion primarily because of their timeless shapes and their wide array of color/size options.

Personally, when I browsed the Pashli online, I was overwhelmed with the number of colors, types of leather, and sizes. You can get it in metallics, in patent, in two-toned color block, in multiple types of hardware… But at the end of the day, I knew that this bag was going to enter my closet as a staple. I wanted to be able to pull this bag out in ten years time and know that it will still be just as useful then as it is now.

REVIEW

I’ve had the Pashli for two years now so I am reviewing this bag well past the initial honeymoon phase. As always, all categories are rated out of 5 stars – I deducted half/whole stars based on whether or not the bag fulfilled all my needs in that category.

FUNCTIONALITY: ☆☆☆1/2

Truth be told, I picked the Medium size mainly because I wanted this bag to also double as a work bag in order to get the most bang for my buck. This is kind of possible – my 13.5″ laptop DOES actually fit, but it is a huge struggle every time I try to stuff it in. My Lenovo will fill the entirety of the bag when the zippers are open and there’s still a bit of space leftover for a smaller sized wallet, a makeup bag, etc. But if I’m being ambitious with the accompanying charger, I can forget about putting anything bigger than a wallet without disfiguring the structure. I’m deducting a full star for the limitations that I’ve faced when trying to fit things into this bag.

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Although the bag looks wide, it is also deceptively narrow – this makes it particularly frustrating when using it for travel. I will always opt for a tote over the Pashli if I’m going anywhere longer than a day. I’m deducting another half star because I have to think ahead and plan in advance on how/when to use it.

That being said, once I got to know the bag’s limitations, I was also able to plan its usage better. I will typically carry it once or twice a week for work when I don’t have to lug my laptop around. On the weekends, the Pashli is perfect for longer errand-running trips or short day visits to the surrounding boroughs.

AESTHETICS: ☆☆☆☆☆

I love the look of this bag – this category gets five stars because of how much I adore the structure. Surprisingly, even though I am not fan of trapezoidal-ish bags with a wider base, I thought this inverted shape worked SO well with the side zippers. I personally never zip up the sides because I think it looks loads better than the boxy shape when it is fully zipped.

Because I intended this bag to be a staple in my collection, I wanted a more neutral shade that would go well with the rest of my closet. The color I ended up choosing was “White Peach” which was actually more vibrant online than when I received it in person. However, I still loved it and found it to be a good companion to most of my clothes. I gravitate towards white so this blush-y peach color is a good match, especially in the spring.

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I have also noticed that with over two years of wear, there is very little color transfer from my dark jeans onto the leather. This was a huge bonus since I had expected quite a bit of darkening on lighter leathers. I have yet to send this bag in to my nearest Leather Spa for servicing and I think that speaks volumes about how well the colored leather has held up.

BUILD: ☆☆☆☆☆

One of the reasons why the Pashli has entered the ‘classics’ category for me is because of how well its held up over time. This bag has not lost its structural integrity at all over the last two years. I have never stuffed it with tissue paper to retain its shape and it still looks fantastic each time I take it out of the dustbag. In part I think this is due to the quality of the leather.

The long strap was also a necessity for me since I tend to carry most of my bags on my shoulder. When I was first researching the bag, I thought the wide padding on the shoulder strap looked super clunky. But after much use, that padding was the BEST thing to ever happen to me. It really helps even out the weight of the satchel when I’m carrying it for long periods of time.

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The only other things I would make note of is the hardware quality. I’ve noticed that the zippers are extremely stiff – so if you like the fully zipped look, this may be a struggle if you’re trying to change between the two styles. This doesn’t personally bother me because I like it to keep both zippers unzipped. I’ve also noticed that the pushlock can get dinged up if you’re not careful with how you buckle it. The scratches are somewhat noticeable on the hardware but this is not a deal breaker for me since all hardware eventually gets scuffed over time – no stars deducted.

QUALITY/DURABILITY: ☆☆☆☆1/2

Most of the Pashli satchels are made with full grain leather (you will find other types, of course) and are extremely durable. I do not baby this bag at all – I’ve set it down on the grass, accidentally dropped it multiple times, and spilled coffee on it. It’s held up like a champ.

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However, durable leather is also a double edged sword. This thicker leather has resulted in a heavier handbag – and my weak, little arms will feel like they completed a full workout if I’m carrying a lot of stuff (read: basically never put anything more than 5-10 pounds in the bag). This is also another limiting factor as to why I don’t carry the Pashli for longer periods of time, so I am deducting half a star for the weight.

VALUE: ☆☆☆☆

$895 is most definitely on the ‘splurge’ range for contemporary designer handbags. The price tag was the biggest hurdle for me when deciding on whether or not to buy this bag. I can justify it now because I’ve seen that it has remained a staple in my wardrobe over the past two years and has gone seamlessly throughout the many seasonal changes NYC experiences. I have no doubt that this will continue to be a classic that I reach for time and time again – and because of that, I have definitely gotten my money’s worth out of this bag.

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However, I am deducting one star because the functional issues that I’ve faced. I had intended this bag to be career-friendly but it has been disappointing in that aspect. There are far more bags in my collection and on the market that fit this requirement. For me, the Pashli will never be an everyday bag because of its practical limitations.

If you are interested in buying the Pashli, please think carefully about how you are intending to utilize this bag in your life. The range of colors and sizes are very tempting (the mini looks like the perfect size for a crossbody!) but do consider how it fits in with your own lifestyle.

GALLERY

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The Pashli is available in the latest season’s colors and sizes on the 3.1 Phillip Lim website. Similar colors to the ‘White Peach’ found in this review are ‘Petal’ (in Medium ($895) and in Mini ($695)) and ‘Feather’ (in Medium ($895) and in Mini ($695)). 

Pre-loved ‘White Peach’ Pashli’s are available here in Medium ($561) and here in Large ($599).


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