Review: Coach City Tote vs. MICHAEL by Michael Kors Saffiano Medium Travel Tote

May 07, 2013

My search for a spring/summer bag continues with this episode about travel totes in saffiano leather. I ordered these two bags after reading raving reviews about them online.

While I wasn't dazzled by either bag in person, these bags are priced reasonably and seem durable. They have classic lines, vibrant colors, and no egregious workmanship issues (in stark contrast to some higher-end designer bags often 10x their price with visible manufacturing defects). 

Michael Kors Saffiano Medium Travel Tote | Coach City Tote in Saffiano Leather
For brevity's sake, the biggest difference between the two bags is that the Coach City Tote has a zipper closure while the Michael Kors Travel Tote does not. You do have the option of closing the gap between the two walls of the MK tote by joining the lobster claw closure located on the inside of the tote but it's not as useful as a top zipper (imo). 

There is minimal compartmentalization built into these bags but you can always insert your own handbag organizer.
While both totes bear similar shape and size to the ubiquitous LV Neverfull (link leads to LV's website where there are sounds and animations), I like that they are not made in monogram material and the brand logos are small enough to the point of incomprehension. And while I wasn't a fan of the hanging charms, those are removable thus inconsequential.
The saffiano leathers used to construct both bags are similar in look and texture. From reading reviews online, I got the impression that a gentle wipe down with cloth or tissue after use is all that's required to maintain the bag's appearance (at least initially).
My biggest complaint about the Michael Kors Travel Tote is that the shoulder straps are too thin. Never mind that thin straps in combination with a loaded bag results in straps digging painfully into your shoulders, I don't think the straps are strong enough to endure more than a few years of abuse by heavy-packers. While the Coach tote straps are only marginally thicker, the difference in weight distribution is quite noticeable.
If you like the Coach City Tote but find the size reviewed here overwhelming, there's a smaller version - the Saffiano Crossbody City Tote - that's standard with a crossbody strap. I am intrigued by the crossbody variation and may order it if more colors become available (at this time, only camel, red, black, and pink are available online).
Both styles can be found in a rainbow of colors (as seen below). Speaking of colors, I was told that the Michael Kors Selma Satchel reviewed in this post is not available in navy this season. I may just hold out for new colors to be released this fall.
Both bags in medium weigh about 2 pounds empty but given their size (MK: 14" W x 11" H x 5" D ; Coach: 13 3/4" L x 10 3/4" x 5 1/2" W), weight can collect quickly. For those of you turned off by heavy bags, stick to the Longchamp Le Pliage, which is featherlight in comparison and foldable.
As I am currently steering away from tote bags and since neither bag blew me away with their brilliance, they were both returned. However, with the exception of a few minor issues mentioned above, the bags are more than adequate if you happened to be in the market for something similar.
If you own either of these bags, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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  3. I have the Kors bag an I always get a lot of compliments on its eye-catching yellow color. It's been great for work because I can throw everything in there but the handles are too thin. I have my eye on the Coach. Love the warmer styling!

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