I did a reveal on this bag the day it arrived and I must admit I wasn't too happy with it on first impression. Don't get me wrong I love the bag but I had also purchased another Purple Balenciaga City from her lower price point and upon comparing the 2 bags I just didn't see a lot of difference in the quality of the leather to account for the $100 in price difference. I had expected the leather of this bag to be softer and more lush somehow but other than the type of leather (one was lambskin and the other patent) they felt to be of comparable quality.
However, now that I've had a chance to compare it to my Authentic Balenciaga from Neiman Marcus the leather is just as nice as the Authentic bag. I would have preferred a less shiny leather but the Auth was shiny too so the finish itself is not a flaw.
I have taken some comparison pictures of this bag next to my Auth bag for this review but please keep in mind that the Authentic bag is a Giant 12 and the replica is a Giant 21 so there will be some obvious differences.
The leather of this bag has a shiny finish but the light makes it appear shinier than it is in reality.
The color is a dark navy blue that contrasts nicely with the bright gold hardware. The gold is actually more of an orangey yellow than it appears in the pictures. I think gold is very difficult to photograph correctly. It always shows up too pale or too yellow for some reason. In most of my pictures they are too pale. It is much brighter and more gold in person than in the pictures.
The leather is very slouchy. In most of these pictures I have the bag stuffed full of foam paper to give it structure. However in reality it is unlikely that anyone would fill the bag this full so it will have a natural slouchy appearance.
The mirror is made of glass not plastic as some of the poor replicas. It is the exact same shape, size and thickness as the mirror on my authentic bag.
The stitching is beautiful but like most replicas there are a few spots with flaws. In the picture below there are some double stitching on the top right corner. However, the color of the thread is close enough to the color of the leather that it would be hard for anyone to notice.
The Giant 21 are no longer being made but based on pictures I've seen of the Authentic version the colander studs appear to be the correct size and they really make the bag pop.
The gold in the zipper below is closer to the actual gold in person.
The studs are all well secured. There have been some complaints from buyers about the studs falling off so I recommend that you check them all before using. Lightly twist each stud and if you find any that are loose just add a few drops of very strong clear glue and you're all set.
The patch on the Right corner is made of a different type of leather. The difference in texture and color would have given the bag character if the patch on the Left were also different. But the Left patch is made of the same leather as the rest of the bag so only the Right patch is different. You'll see a comparison lower down in the pictures.
The zipper runs smoothly however it does not zip all the way so there is a small gap in the opening.
The handles have a 4" drop which is correct.
It also has a double ropelike threading appropriate for this style.
You can see the difference in the patches better here. The one on the Right is lighter than the one on the Left. Fortunately this isn't really noticeable in person. I didn't see it until looking at these pictures.
The little screws on the tabs of the handles have 2 small gaps which is correct.
There is a tiny piece of loose and frayed thread here. It doesn't bother me so I've left it alone. If it bothers you a quick flick from a lighter will do the job nicely.
I was surprised to see the zipper ends on the back side are correct on this bag. On my Gray City from Vanco the front and back looked identical in that both sides have this little square piece at the ends. But on my Authentic the back side only has the teeth showing just like in the picture below.
Here's a diagram of the area I'm referring to. The first set of pictures are from my Rose Blush.
The rings where the clasp is attached is thick and substantial and soldered closed. Some of the cheaper replicas have a gap that do not exist on an Authentic bag.
Bales are dipped but the long straps on this bag is wider than on my Rose Blush so the bales are bigger. I don't have an Authentic Giant 21 to make side by side comparisons so I don't know if the straps are supposed to be wider for this style.
There is a cut in the bottom center of both sides but they are very well done and the color makes it hard to even notice it's there.
Here's the same loose thread that you saw earlier. It's been cut off.
There's a piece of loose thread shown here from the handles. I didn't notice it was there until after I saw this picture. I've trimmed it back and it doesn't seem to be unraveling further.
There is some red residue on the black glue of the long straps. I'm not sure what this is but it doesn't bother me. It can easily be fixed with a black marker but honestly I didn't even notice until seeing the glue so I've left it alone. You can see it in the 2 pictures below.
And more red residue in the following 6 pictures.
There are some wrinkling on the black glue here.
Back side of the long straps. There is a trim on the end but it is sewn in and glued down pretty good.
This is the Right patch. The difference is more obvious up close.
Here's the Left patch. The leather here is the same used on the body of the bag. It would have been nice if they used the same leather from the Right patch but it's not as noticeable in person.
The name plate for the Giant 21 is just a leather tag engraved with Balenciaga Paris. The top stitching is black which is true for the Authentic.
On the back of the tag are the serial #'s and "made in Italy".
The interior is lined in black cotton fabric. The inside features one zipper pocket.
The zipper heads are the correct shape and are embossed with Lampo on the back.
All the stuffing has been removed here. It lays fairly flat when empty.
And here are some side by side pictures with my Rose Blush from Neiman Marcus. Please note the handles on the Rose Blush appears shorter only because I can't get it to stand upright. They actually measure the same with a 4" drop.
Notice there are tassels on the Rose Blush. The replica does not have tassels which is true for the Giant 21.
The straps are wider on the replica which is a Giant 21 and the Auth is a Giant 12 so they're not the same style. I don't know if the wider straps are consistent to the authentic version of this bag.
There's more of a gap in between the teeth of the zippers on the Auth than on the replica.
Big difference in the width of the straps and size of the bales. Again please keep in mind these are 2 different style bags so this might not be a flaw. Either way I'm perfectly happy with the straps.
Here's a comparison of the mirror. They are the exact same size.
Overall I rate this bag a 9.8 on a scale of 1 to 10. There are only a few minor flaws that I noticed and they aren't obvious in person. I wasn't happy with this bag initially because I didn't see a big improvement in the quality of the leather compared to the Purple City from the lower price point.
However after comparing it to my Authentic bag the leather is very comparable in quality. I have quite a collection of Balenciaga bags now and still my favorite is the one I got from Maja from NBF. The leather on that bag is the softest of all of them and I love that the finish is more matt than glossy.