I am back with another handbag / fashion post. In today’s post, I will be reviewing two of my most popular handbags, and then comparing them to each other. The two bags are my Chanel Classic Square Mini in black caviar with light gold hardware and the Chanel Reissue Mini in black distressed calfskin with shiny gold hardware.
Chanel Classic Square Mini
The Chanel Classic Square Mini in caviar is one of the hardest bags to find on the market, not just because they were discontinued in the caviar leather in the last two years, but because Chanel didn’t make very many of them to begin with. Mine was purchased from Saks from the Chanel Spring/Summer 2018 collection, which is either the last or the second to last season that they made the Square Mini in the caviar leather; now all minis are made only in fabric or in the lambskin. It comes with the leather woven chain, similar to other Classic Flaps, but unlike normal Classic Flaps, both the Square and Rectangular Minis only come with two grommets at the top, so you can’t double up your strap and wear it under your arm.
The way I got my hands on this bag was actually through pure luck. The Vancouver Chanel boutique is literally one of the worst stores EVER if you wanted to get your hands on a coveted bag. Unless you buy a ton of stuff there every season, there is little to no chance they will put any popular bag aside for you. It is so bad that despite me owning four Chanel bags, I’ve never actually bought a single bag there, only SLGs, accessories, and shoes. To get my Square Mini, I actually posted about my wishlist on a Chanel Facebook group, and a Chanel Saks salesperson saw it and said they had one Square Mini in the caviar leather left, and asked if I was interested in it. OF COURSE I WAS. While the price at the time, US$3,200, was a couple hundred dollars higher than buying it in Canada after conversion, I knew there was no way in hell I would ever get my hands on one of these locally. I was so over the moon when I received it, even though it is a lot smaller than I expected it to be. I’ve never seen one of these in real life so it was a shock when I saw it for the first time.
The caviar from SS2018 was what people called “shiny caviar,” as it appeared shinier and softer than past seasons. The grains were very shallow and large, and while you still got that grained leather look, it was very soft and supple compared to other caviars. I absolutely love the leather on my Square Mini because it is so puffy and delicious to touch.
This bag does not fit very much. I use a relatively compact wallet (LV Victorine), and while it does fit in the bag, it won’t fit much else after that. I normally put my cards in a zippy cardholder, that way I get my key case (LV 6 key holder), phone (iPhone X, substituted with a Chanel flat cardholder for the photo), and a mini hand cream into the bag. Because of the structured leather, this bag does not have as much give so you can’t just stuff your bag full of stuff – the flap won’t clasp. You probably also don’t want to stuff this bag too full because the structured shape will eventually stretch out, and then it won’t retain it’s cute, compact look.
In addition to the very small size, another limitation is the length of the strap. This strap is short, especially in comparison to the Rectangular Mini. I’m 169cm / 5’6 and while it does fit cross-body on me, I would never wear it cross-body because it hits me high on hip, almost to my waist (see my comparison pictures below).
One other thing to note is that the sizing of the Square Mini varies depending on the season. Before I purchased mine, I looked at countless Youtube reviews, blog reviews, Instagram photos comparing the Square Mini and the Rectangular Mini and it was clear that depending on the season, the Square Mini can fit more OR less than the Rectangular Mini. I relied on Chase Amie’s Chanel mini reviews quite a bit, and her Square Mini is from a season where it was slightly bigger, so her Square Mini in the caviar leather can fit more than her Rectangular Mini, despite her Rectangular Mini being in a softer lambskin leather. Mine also comes without the edge stitching, whereas some seasons will have edge stitching on the minis (example). I believe the discrepancy is because Minis are seasonal bags, so every season they just change how they want things done.
I wouldn’t think of this, or use this, as an everyday bag. To me, it really is a special occasion bag that I can take out once in a while, or if we’re having a romantic date night / stroll around town, I might bring this bag with me if I wanted something light. I really don’t bring a lot of stuff around with me, but even then I still have to downsize my wallet to a cardholder, which is a little annoying.
Despite all of the issues with this bag, I absolutely love it. I’m so happy that I have this bag in my collection and it really does fulfill a need in my handbag collection. I don’t like holding bags with my hands, even paired with evening wear, so this bag fulfills the need of an evening / fancy clutch. I love that it allows me to keep my hands free to do other things (like hold food).
Unfortunately, Chanel discontinued both the Square and Rectangular Minis in the caviar leather. You can still get it in lambskin, which is an absolutely gorgeous leather, but can be very delicate. As someone who is paranoid about scratching my bags, I only have one lambskin bag which I literally never use.
If you want a mini Chanel bag that comes in a more durable leather, a good alternative is the Reissue Mini.
Chanel Reissue Mini
The Reissue Mini is a new-ish bag by Chanel, first released for pre-fall 2019 in June 2019. This is also when I purchased my bag. I got mine from my friend Orchmelia, who is a personal shopper in the US. She ordered it for me from Saks. I paid US$3,600 including tax and shipping
Mine comes with distressed calfskin in black, which is the most common type of leather in the Reissue line. Similar to other handbags in the Reissue line, it comes with the Bijoux chain, which is the original Chanel bag chain. The bag initially comes “collapsed,” so it looks vintage and distressed. Because it already comes collapsed, the bag is soft and not super structured, and you can fit quite a bit of stuff in here. I can fit my normal wallet in this bag, along with my phone, which is an iPhone X (substituted by a Chanel cardholder for the photo because I’m taking photos with my iPhone) and keys, as well as hand lotion and a lip balm. Despite its small size, it fits quite a bit because it is softer and less structured.
The hardware on mine is shiny gold hardware, which I like but don’t *love.* I kind of wished I waited for the more recent iterations of it, which has the brushed gold hardware, which not only is more scratch-resistant, but makes it look less like a F21 or Aldo knock-off of the Reissue bag.
The leather is very soft but still durable. I used this bag every day for a few months, and I didn’t notice any scratches or marks on it. With calfskin, you can get that smooth leather look without the risk of damage.
The size is pretty much the same as the Chanel Reissue 224, but it does not come with the double flap so capacity is a lot larger compared to the Reissue 224. It is very similar in height and depth as my Square Mini, but slightly wider as it is more of a rectangular shape. The bijoux chain is longer than the Square Mini, but not as long as the Rectangular Mini. I can wear this both cross-border (it hits me slightly below the hip) and also single strap on the shoulders. I love love love that it comes with the four grommets, as that means I can also double up the chain and wear it under my arm.
When Chanel announced the Reissue Mini, I jumped on it despite not being completely in love with it. After almost a year of owning it, I still don’t feel super passionate about it. When I feel and see my Square Mini, I get butterflies, but with the Reissue Mini, I feel just okay about it. Don’t get me wrong, this is one of my most loved and used bags in my collection. But I love it because it is such a practical bag, and not because of how it makes me feel, if that makes sense.
The one major downside of this bag is that, like I mentioned earlier, a lot of fast fashion brands have essentially stolen the square turnlock flap bag style and made their own versions of it. I find that sometimes I wonder if people think I’m wearing an Aldo or F21 bag because it is so widely copied. While the quality of the bag is quite good, from afar it’s really hard to tell the difference. Even though I don’t wear my bags for other people to look at it, sometimes I do wonder if I could have spent that money on something else that isn’t so ambiguous in terms of Chanel branding.
Comparing the Square Mini with the Reissue Mini
You can see in the photo above, and in the modelling shots below, that the Reissue Mini’s strap is about 1-1.5 inches longer than the Square Mini strap. This 1 inch makes a huge difference because the Reissue Mini sits comfortably on me cross-body, whereas I wouldn’t wear the Square Mini cross body.
As described earlier, the softer leather on the Reissue Mini means that I can get more stuff in the bag, compared to the Square Mini which is way more structured and requires you to pare down your belongings when you go out. As a bag for function, the Reissue Mini is way better in terms of everyday wear.
That being said, if I had to choose one of the two, I would still hands down choose the Square Mini because it just brings so much joy to me every time I use it. The CC turnlock is so quintessentially modern Chanel, and it elevates any and all outfits I wear with this. I also love how puffy and soft the quilts are. The quilting on the Reissue Mini is more distressed and flattened, so it’s not as fun to touch.
Sadly the Square Mini is no longer available in the caviar leather. You can still get it in the lambskin, which gets released pretty regularly a few times a year. The Reissue Mini has been available for a few seasons and I don’t see it going anywhere in the time being. Regardless, both styles are very Chanel and you can’t go wrong with either purchase.
Hope this was helpful!