I said to myself last year that I am at “purse peace” with my designer handbag collection. That just means I feel like I’ve invested in my designer handbag collection that I have bag options for pretty much every situation, and there’s enough coverage in my collection that I shouldn’t need to add any more to it. That being said, I still love bags, so despite being at purse peace, I’ve still been into watching bag reviews and looking at new bags to buy, albeit no longer at that ultra premium price point.
I’ve seen Polene bags floating around the internet for a few years, but it wasn’t until recently that I started becoming interested. The Numero Un bag is their first design, originating from a few years ago. It reminds me of my Celine Belt bag, in a super cute, dumpling-like shape. It comes in four different sizes – the regular, the Mini, the Mini Backpack, and the Nano. The Numero Un Nano is the latest Numero Un style to be released, as it came out in late 2019/early 2020. I absolutely fell in love with the super cute size, and I immediately did a bunch of research and purchased it with my own money.
Disclaimer: this post is not sponsored, and I purchased the bag with my own money. All of my thoughts are my own; I am not affiliated with Polene.
I won’t talk too much about the background since a lot of bloggers and Youtubers have covered this extensively. Basically Polene was founded and is based in Paris. They have one physical boutique in Paris, but the majority of their business is conducted through e-commerce sales. They ship worldwide from their workshop in Spain.
The products are all handmade in Spain by artisans, and the quality is said to be comparable to some of the higher end brands since everything is hand made.
Ordering and logistics
Polene has various different website “formats,” for example for shipping to Canada, you can order from the EU site in Euros or the US site in US Dollars. I read on Purseforum that if you order in Euros, you get charged less duty. I’m not sure why this is the case since all of their orders are shipped from Seville, Spain.
I placed my order on a Monday night, it shipped on Wednesday morning, and then I received it the following Monday afternoon (one day in advance of its scheduled delivery date) in Vancouver. The shipper was DHL and I paid 20 Euros for shipping.
Fellow Canadians, specifically if you live in BC, I placed my order for the Numero Un Nano using Euros and I paid C$64.36 in taxes and fees. This is broken down as:
- $17.85 in DHL processing fee (like custom brokerage fees)
- $46.51 in GST/PST, which is about 12% of the bag (at the time of purchase, 280 Euros was approx. C$388).
Because the item is being shipped from the EU directly into Canada, and it’s also made in the EU, due to CETA, there is no duty. I was just charged sales tax.
You’ve probably seen some of the unboxings on Youtube but the bag comes in an absolutely beautiful shimmery white box. The box is incredibly sturdy and well made, and is better than some of the luxury designer boxes I have. The dust bag is also very nice quality and is superior to some of the luxury dust bags I own. It was very nicely packaged in bubble wrap, and then wrapped nicely in branded tissue paper. First impressions and presentation are A+, especially considering the price point.
The colour I picked was the Terre de Sienne. It’s translated to Terracotta or Sienna on the website depending on which page you’re looking at, but the French is consistently labeled as Terre de Sienne. It comes with a contrasting cream stitching, which I absolutely love.
I don’t know if its just because of the amount of reviews I watched which said the leather quality is amazing, or if I’m just used to the leather on ultra high end handbags, but I found the smooth calfskin leather to just be okay. It’s not the softest or smoothest of leathers, and it looks and feels like the colour was painted on top rather than dyed. My vintage Chanel bag was also painted so I can kind of tell the difference between a dyed and a painted bag now; a painted bag isn’t as supple compared to a non-painted bag, and you can definitely tell the difference when you touch this Polene. You can also see in the detail photos below that there’s a lot of wrinkling in the leather, and that happens more often with bags that are painted. Yes leather does wrinkle normally, but a painted bag would show more significant wrinkles than a non-painted bag. The leather is also quite stiff, which could be because the design of the bag requires a more structured leather.
Even though it is advertised as smooth leather, it feels a little bit textured, so I think that’s why a lot of reviewers have said don’t find scratches on it even after months or years of use. If you are worried about buying a smooth leather bag, I don’t think you have to be worried about this one. I think it’ll be pretty durable, especially since it is protected by a layer of leather paint as well.
The stitching was even, and I couldn’t find any issues with the construction quality. The interior cotton fabric lining felt thick and strong.
The hardware is gold hardware and you can tell that it is very high quality, each piece stamped with the word Polene. The magnetic closure is also very strong and I don’t have to worry about it randomly popping open.
This bag is super adorable. It’s a really good size for me when worn handheld, slung on one shoulder, or cross-body. I’m 5’6.5 and a US size 8, and at the longest length, it’s just about the perfect length for me cross-body. If you are a bigger size or taller than me, then it might be a little snug.
I was a little bit worried about the colour initially, because some Youtube reviews are showing it as almost a dark orange, and I had a hard time finding more “real life” photos of this bag. I do have to say the bag in real life is a tinge darker than the online photos, but it is mostly true to colour. It does have some orange in it, but it’s not an orange bag.
In terms of what fits in the bag, I don’t carry around that much — a compact wallet (LV Victorine wallet), a 6 key holder (from LV), iPhone 10, hand sanitizer, mask, hand cream, and maybe a soft sunglasses pouch, and I can fit everything inside no problem. If you’re someone who carries a lot then this bag is not for you as the folds at the front significantly decrease the bag’s capacity. I can fit a transit card in the back pocket, and nothing else.
Note: I took the “what fits inside” photos later in the day in a west facing room so the bag looks warmer in these pictures than in the other pictures. The bag doesn’t look this warm in real life. The other photos are quite accurate in terms of real life colour.
If I had to summarize my thoughts about this bag in one phrase, it would be “it’s pretty good for the price.” The style is super cute, like a dumpling, and it’ll be a great weekend go-around bag. I could see myself using this for a long time, but I wouldn’t see it as an investment bag I can use forever because I don’t think the leather will stand the test of time (i.e. 10+ years of regular use). The price is pretty reasonable, as after conversion and taxes it was around C$480. It does feel luxurious to use, without the luxury price tag. Overall it’s a great purchase for those who want to get something that is well made without the ultra high price tag.
Would I buy another Polene bag? Yes, yes I would. The styles are very chic, practical, and the prices are reasonable. I can definitely see why they have such a loyal following of customers.