Review: Saint Laurent Sac De Jour Leather Tote

May 20, 2017

In 2013, shortly after Hedi Slimane joined Saint Laurent as creative director and dropped Yves from its name, the Saint Laurent Paris Sac de Jour was born. In the four years since, this "day bag" has been instrumental in the impressive turnaround of the brand, which tripled its revenue between 2011 and 2016.

I've contemplated buying the SDJ since late 2013, but could never decide on a color. I was also wary of the various changes that Slimane made to the design between seasons. I finally pulled the trigger last year.


OVERVIEW You almost can't help but draw comparisons between the Sac de Jour (especially the first edition) and the Hermès Birkin: their similarities start at their boxy though slightly trapezoidal shapes, through the shared clochettes, to the compression straps. If you find the Birkin a little overwrought, the SDJ might be perfect for you; it is fairly minimalistic.
QUALITY/CONSTRUCTION The first-generation SDJ was a substantial bag: it was lined in suede, and was very heavy (the "large" was close to five pounds empty). Over the years, though, more sizes were introduced (and the large was phased out), a shoulder strap was added, and the suede lining was (first replaced with fabric and then) removed altogether, making it a considerably lighter bag. It's (to me) a more functional bag than it was, and the bag remains well-made (even stitching, perfect symmetry, and sturdy hardware) and the material used (calfskin) is still top-tier.

The grained leather version I own is more structured than the original version (which was constructed out of smooth leather and will lose its shape over time).

DETAIL The bag, with an open top design, has two main compartments separated by a zippered central compartment. There are no slip or zippered pockets built in. The key, which opens the padlock, snaps into the bag's interior back wall. The handheld straps have a 4" drop, and the removable shoulder strap has a 19" drop. The bag is designed with protective metal feet, and is available with a number of hardware colors. The concertina sides can be expanded to allow more room (though not much).

CAPACITY The "small" SDJ shown here measures 12.5" wide, 10" tall, and 6.5" deep. It's the most versatile of the four sizes offered (imo), and can take you from desk to dinner. It won't fit most laptops (or letter-sized documents), but will accommodate a small tablet. The bag has enough room for essentials and a few personal items (like a second pair of sunglasses, a full-size hair brush, or a portable high-capacity power bank).

The composite below shows all four sizes that the SDJ is available in: the largest is the "medium," which is 14.5" wide, 11" tall, and 7" deep, and retails for $3490; the "small" seen in my photos is the second largest size and retails for $2890; followed by the "baby" which is 10" wide, 8" tall, and 5" deep, and retails for $2650; the smallest is the "nano," which is 8.5" wide, 7" tall, and 4.25" deep, with a retail price of $1990.
Saint Laurent Sac De Jour: Medium || Small || Baby || Nano
PRICE The SDJ is priced to compete against bags made by Prada, Valentino, and Fendi, so its 2K-4K price range appears reasonable. But unlike bags in Chanel or Hermès's permanent collection, the SDJ depreciates in value (rather dramatically) over its service life, so it's not an "investment-grade" bag (I know... it's illogical for a casual collector to think of bags as investments). And there is no need to spend full retail on this bag: take advantage of gift card events (Saks and Neiman Marcus run them frequently); while Saint Laurent is often excluded from promotions, in recent years they occasionally participate in storewide events. "Premier" designers tend to stay away from dollar off promotions, but are less turned off by gift card events.
"Regular" Small Sac De Jour // "Souple" Small Sac De Jour
I am a fan of how structured the SDJ is, but for spring this year, Saint Laurent updated the SDJ and added a "souple" (or flexible) version (some retailers call it "soft" SDJ), which has more hardware (most notably the studs on the tabs) and is therefore a little edgier. This version also comes with an adjustable shoulder strap, which some might find appealing.

You can buy the Sac De Jour at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Net-a-Porter, and Barneys New York.

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