the more you know the less you need

the more you know the less you need

The Handbag Diaries

The Handbag Diaries

A red handbag is the ultimate accessory. That bold pop of colour makes a statement. Especially when it is as architecturally striking as this one is.

From my collection, a beautiful vintage Dofan bag in buttery-soft box calf leather. Geometric gold clasp. As minimalist, and as understated, as a fire-engine red bag can be.

Dofan Handbag Co. was a distinguished manufacturer known for their fine craftsmanship. With headquarters in New York and production facilities in New York, Paris, and Grenoble, Dofan produced purses from the 1940s to the 1970s. Using superior leathers, alligator and crocodile, Dofan bags were classic and sculptural gems. Their signature designs included ornate enamel clasps; 24-karat gold-plated trim; and Bakelite accents. Some bags also came with accessories: a mirror and change purse.Their slogan was, It’s in the Bag—Luxury that Is. The Dofan brand exuded quiet elegance.

During the late ’40s, America’s fashion industry was booming and there was a growing demand for luxury goods. Dofan’s first Fall collection in 1948 was a smashing success, as was their truly exquisite Christmas collection the following year. These fine leather bags literally flew off the shelves as did virtually every collection of their beautiful French imports released during the 1950s and 1960s. Dofan bags retailed for a hefty $22.50 (that’s $191.35 in 2015 USD). Dofan stood among the best names in the industry such as Koret, Harry Rosenfeld, Lucille de Paris, and Deitsch.

Dofan made the It bags before It bags existed. They were advertised in Vogue, and Dofan was featured as The Shape of Things to Come in an issue of Handbags Illustrated. But not content to rest on their laurels, a decision to introduce an “Economy Class” line in the 60s and 70s to broaden their market appeal, saw Dofan produce handbags that looked like crocodile, but weren’t. Instead they were embossed leather and vinyl bags, many lined in fabric rather than leather. Although made very affordable, Dofan did not compromise on the quality and style they were so renowned for. In essence, Dofan made (very good) knock-offs of themselves!

These imitation bags by Dofan are not as collectable as their luxury line made from genuine skins so be careful when buying to get the real thing. Finding the mirror and coin purse included also increases the value. The brand is represented by the Dofan Taurus logo and the interior of the bags are stamped with it: alligator and crocodile bags will have Made in France stamped on the leather lining; alligator-embossed leather bags, lined in fabric, are usually marked Genuine Leather; alligator-pressed vinyl bags are stamped Made in France by Dofan.



This is my second Dofan bag. Here is my first :


These two quintessential Dofan bags are treasured favourites. They make me feel special every time I carry them. I even love just looking at them on my shelf. These Dofan bags have a history, a past, the patina of time.

I am delighted to admit that I did not pay thousands of dollars for these handbags. Dofan does not have the cachet that, say Chanel, does, but that said, my enjoyment is not diminished in any way because there are not two intertwined Cs or because I paid less money for beautiful luxury goods (albeit from a bygone era). And as posh as it must be to be served champagne while perusing the merchandise in high-end boutiques, it surely lacks the thrill of the hunt that vintage is all about, and that laying down a credit card just can’t match.

Vintage Dofan handbags available on Ebay and Etsy



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