During my school days, I would use generic backpacks until they died on me. Then, I’d just rinse and repeat.
But as I became an adult, I realised the importance of a good bag. For me, that means it has to be presentable, trendy, and classy all at once.
Though it doesn’t need to have dozens of compartments for me to hide away every item in my bag, I appreciate a pocket or two where I can easily access my wallet and phone.
Overall, it should also be easily maintainable and made of high-quality material.
We’re in the midst of updating our Tracey lineup on VP Label, so when the team sent over selected products for us to photograph, I took the opportunity to test the bags out.
A bit about Tracey
Tracey bags are the result of love. And a bit of frustration.
Johnson Tan, the designer and founder of Tracey, started his bag creation journey to solve his wife’s bag habits. Though Aiping is a typically organised person, her bags are a whole different story.
The first bag he released, The Urban Lady, is known as the “Messy-No-More Compartment Bag”. Since then, Johnson has continued to create other styles of vegan leather bags, from backpacks and shoulder bags to satchels and totes.
Despite the variety, Tracey’s best known product is still The Urban Lady. So, I was thoroughly surprised to see how lovely the other styles of bags are. Johnson Tan is certainly no one-trick pony.
Have you ever seen the meme “What I ordered VS what I got” (or “expectations VS reality”)? Well, I was worried the same thing might happen with the Tracey bags, but fortunately, it was not a catfish situation.
Through sight and feel, I could tell that the quality was good. The bags have a certain weight and solidness to them, with the polyurethane leather being thick and expensive-looking, even though the bags are mostly under RM200. Despite being quite structured, the bags are relatively light too.
The stitch seams on the bags were commendable. Oftentimes, there are threads with loose ends or unravelling bits, but the ones on the Tracey bags were neat.
Design-wise, the bags managed to hit the mark of modern but timeless. I wouldn’t call them trendy per se, as they don’t rely on any fads or patterns, but stick to minimalistic looks instead. They’re certainly not haute couture, but with the variety of designs, even teenagers up to elderly ladies would be able to find something.
One rule my mum taught me is to test the zipper on any product before buying it. I am happy to report that I had no trouble with any of the zippers from the Tracey bags, each one moving as smooth as butter.
Another feature I liked was the simple and subtle branding. Instead of slapping on huge logos, the small and simple metallic TRACEY branding adds to the look more than it detracts.
While we had quite the variety to go through, I’m highlighting my favourite few that would actually tempt me to ditch my dependable tote bag, maybe in the future.
For the understated classy days
Someone at Tracey must have studied colour theory because I adore all of their colourways. Sure, they offer a lot of the typical colours, but do you know just how many shades there are in the world?
All my colleagues and I were immediately drawn to the Jewell Shoulder Bag in Spanish Orange. The colour is rich and vibrant but not too saturated. However, I’m not the hugest fan of the buckle feature because it looks a bit too mature for my preferences (guess my age… ha!)
Even though it’s not as structured as some of the other bags, it comes with studs at the bottom to keep it standing. It also comes with an adjustable strap.
The three main compartments it has worked well for organisation. It fit my A5 size notebook with plenty of room to spare. The central zipped compartment is perfect for little knickknacks like keys, tissues, loose change, and forgotten receipts (just me?). Not to mention, your wallet and a small makeup pouch for touch-ups.
This bag costs RM169 and comes in other lovely colours such as navy, moss green, and camel.
For the professionally chic days
The Betterment Tote Bag in Choco Brown was one of the first bags I personally reached for. I love the coffee colour and the neat, structured look.
The bag can be expanded by unlatching the hook in the middle to create a wider silhouette. It also comes with an adjustable shoulder strap, which is always a plus even if you don’t use it, but like to have the option to. I wished the strap was a bit thicker though considering the size of the bag.
Although Tracey bags are designed to have multiple compartments to your organise items, I’m not actually the biggest fan of partitions in bags, because I organise all my things in pouches anyway. So, I liked the fact that this tote consists of one large space plus a simple zippable slot, and one pocket instead of numerous compartments.
This tote even fits a 13-inch laptop, which is why it can serve as a day-to-night bag. Notebooks, a pencil case, a water bottle, chargers, hard drives, and more, can easily sit in this bag.
Priced at RM179, I think this is a very versatile bag that’s suitable for work and play.
For the youthful and casual days
The London backpack is minimalistic and sleek with a slight trapezoid shape to it. As much as I said I don’t like compartments, I think the two main compartments of this bag are what give it its charm.
This bag could easily fit my A5 notebook. I can even envision packing a novel, sunglasses, and some snacks for a casual picnic outdoors. Because of the narrow opening, it looks like the bag can’t fit much, but the wider bottom makes room for bigger items. Still, it’s definitely not spacious enough for work or school.
Overall, it’s a versatile backpack. It can be fresh and feminine or more rugged and casual depending on how you style it. The Classic Black and Choco Brown are the two gorgeous options for this bag, but I wish there were more colours, like maybe a deep red?
This backpack is priced at RM 179.
Bang for your buck
One of the best parts about Tracey bags to me is their price tags. If you’ve ever been bag shopping, you’ll know the price for a quality bag is not cheap.
So, having tried out the bags myself for a bit, I would say with each one priced under RM200, Tracey bags are a steal.
I can’t be completely certain about the durability of the bags though since that would take upwards of a year to really answer. From what I can tell in my brief testing, the material feels pretty reliable, and the fact that these bags are Malaysian-made and cruelty-free is appealing to me.
Not to be dramatic, but I genuinely think that the next bag I’m going to buy may very well be a Tracey bag. Seriously.
But, of course, I’m going to be waiting until the launch of the new designs on VP Label, because I’m always down for a good deal.