Balenciaga FAQS

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about Balenciaga.
Please let me know if you'd like me to add something! :)

What is the motorcycle line?
This is Balenciaga's handbag line that is known to have the tassels (fringe) hanging off the zippers with small hardware or thimble-like giant hardware without the tassels.

What are some acronyms I should be familiarized with?
Here are some that are commonly used on fashion forums and occasionally on this blog:
RH = Regular Hardware also known as the classic aged brass hardware
PH = Pewter Hardware (from 03-04)
FBH or FB = Flat Brass Hardware
GSH/SGH or G21 = Giant Silver Hardware
GH = Giant Hardware
GGH = Giant Gold Hardware
RGGH = Rose Gold Giant Hardware
GCH = Giant Covered Hardware
MGGH or G12 = Newest "Mini" Giant Hardware
PT = Part Time style
MU = Make Up Clutch
F/W = Fall/Winter
S/S = Spring/Summer

What does the word "Arena" mean?
While I am not 100% sure, "Arena" translate to "sandy" in Spanish.  It is guessed to be that it means the way the leather is treated to have the distressing.

How often are new colors released?
There are two seasons S/S Spring/Summer, and F/W Fall/Winter.  Each season has a pre-collection, and then a collection (usually only 3 colors).  S/S pre-collection colors are usually released December, and the collection is released in February.  For F/W pre-collection, it is released June, and the rest in August.

What colors are produced every season?
Black, White and Anthracite

Where can I find a color chart of all the Balenciaga colors produced?
Check out my partially completed color swatch section here.

What are the different types of hardware?
The first type of hardware that was produced in 2000-2002 was the flat brass hardware FB (they look like brass thumbtacks pushed into the bag).

Next, there was the pewter classic hardware PH that was produced in 2003-2004 (think of a dullish dark silver).

The classic hardware that is still in production is the aged brass hardware which made its introduction in 2004.  The classic hardware is also known as RH or regular hardware is made of aged brass which has been oxidized in color, but over time the oxidized residue may wear off showing a true brass color.
Aged brass hardware losing it's oxidation

Giant Silver and Gold Hardware GSH/GGH (also known as Giant 21) were introduced in 2007 that look like little thimbles.  They are bigger and make the bag heavier than the regular hardware.   As of S/S 2012 the Giant Silver and Rose Gold Hardware has been discontinued and replaced with the new Giant 12 hardware.  

Giant Gun Metal Hardware was produced very briefly in 2007 for limited edition bags such the Neiman Marcus Teal City, and the Suede bags.  They have not reproduced it since.

Classic Covered hardware also made its brief appearance in Fall 2008 and was soon discontinued afterward.  It looks like regular hardware but with a layer of matching leather over it.

Covered Giant Hardware CGH or GCH was also introduced in Fall 2008 and is still in production.  They cover the giant hardware (probably not made of the silver or gold) with a layer of matching leather.  An interesting characteristic that comes with the Giant Covered Hardware is the perforated trim along the bag/accessory.

Balenciaga's newest reinvention of the Covered Giant Hardware is now the "Brogues" trim  and was introduced  in S/S 2011. It is supposedly the replacement to Cover Giant Hardware because of it's lack of popularity.  The giant hardware appears to be a smaller in size and remains covered by leather but they've made the perforations larger and underneath is a contrasting color. 

S/S 11 Vieux Rose Brogue
Brogues Hardware VS Giant Covered Hardware

Rose Gold Giant Hardware RGGH is the newest hardware that has been introduced in S/S 2010.  It is a light pink gold hardware, but an interesting characteristic of this hardware is that the grooves of the thimbles are darkened to achieve that "vintage" look.  The zippers remain a light pink gold with no darkening. This is supposedly the replacement to Gold Giant Hardware, but the Gold hardware will now be produced in limited styles and colors. For F/W 2011, I have heard that the zippers now matched the rest of the hardware with the "aged" look. As of S/S 2012, the Rose Gold Giant Hardware (Giant 21) is now replaced with the Giant 12 (mini giant hardware) [see below for more details].

Mini Giant Hardware in Silver was introduced during the 2010 S/S Pre-Season.  It made its first appearance on the coin purses and is now on the Town, First, and Move-On/Move bag.  It can also be seen on the Hip crossbody bag which made its first appearance during F/W 2009 Limited Edition Hip bags that were sold by Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman.

For S/S 2012, the Mini Giant hardware called "Giant 12" will replace the Giant Hardware on all bags.  It's possible that the Giant hardware will be brought back as a boutique exclusive as they did with the Giant Gold Hardware.

For clarification the Giant 12 Hardware comes in two sizes as depicted below, there is a slightly larger size for the Giant 12 Hardware for Day, Work and Weekender.  The other styles Hip, Envelope, Mini Pompon, First, Town City, Velo, Part-Time will have the smallest of the Giant 12 Hardware.

It has been said that the reason for the discontinuation of the Giant Hardware above and the introduction of the Giant 12 is because of complaints of the heaviness of the Giant Hardware bags.

For S/S 2013, Rose Gold G12 Hardware will be discontinued and be replaced with Gold G12 (Mini) Hardware. 

G12 on the Day slightly larger vs City below

Size difference between "Giant 12" Mini Giant Hardware versus Giant Hardware
Original Giant Hardware Work versus the new Giant 12 Work with the larger sized G12 hardware

S/S 2012 Bleu Cobalt City with the new "MINI GIANT HARDWARE" or G12
The New Mini Giant Hardware Part-Time versus Giant Hardware Part-Time (both rose gold) [source cult status]

Classic hardware in Nickel and Gold has also been produced this year 2010 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the "classic bag" and other various styles such as the animal print, and the large perforation bag.
Anniversary Iridescent with Classic Silver Hardware
Anniversary Animal Print with Classic Gold Hardware
Cross Perforation with Classic Gold Hardware
Finally the Riva line had an interesting nickel hardware that many had deemed it as "nipple" hardware.  These bags were produced sometime in 2011 and have not been continued.  They have smooth and supple calfskin leather with a perforated trim decoration.

For F/W 2013, a new marble effect hardware has been released with the suede bags. See here for another silver like hardware color.

For most recent seasons, Balenciaga has revamped their hardware and added a metal edge detailing outline on their bags.  Named "Metallic Edge"

What's the size of the First versus the City?
Although they are similar in design, they are both significantly different in size.
The First's dimensions are 13.5"x 7.5" x 2.6", and the City is 15" x 9.4" x 5.5".
The First holds a significantly smaller amount than the City, if you carry more than the essentials, it is recommended that you go with the City.

Ardoise Classic City VS First [source diabro]

Is there a size difference between the Classic City with Regular Hardware and the Giant Hardware City?
The dimensions are pretty much the same but the double handles are a little wider on the Giant City.  The Giant City is also heavier because of the larger hardware. 

What's the dimensions of the Town?
13.5" W x 9.5" H x 3" D.  The Town is very similar to the First but is taller in height.
Classic Town

What's the difference between the Part-Time and Work?
The Part-Time is more of an east-west type of bag that comes with a shoulder strap.  The dimensions are 17" x 8.7" and 7".
The Work looks like a larger version of the City, but without the shoulder strap.  The dimensions are 18" x 10.6" x 8".

The top bag is a Work, middle is Part-Time, and City is on the bottom.  All three bags have Giant hardware:
[source Cult Status blog]

What's the size of the Weekender?
The Weekender's dimensions are 15" x 21" x 9".
Classic Weekender

What's the size of the Day?
The Day's dimensions are 14" x 14" x 5" with a 15" handle drop.

Classic Day
Giant Hardware Day

What's the size of the Twiggy?
The Twiggy is a log shaped bag that has a shoulder strap and top handles.  The dimensions are 7" x 14" x 6.5".  Though it is shorter than the City, it holds just as much the City can.

There is also a larger sized Maxi Twiggy that measures at 9 1/2"H x 14"W x 7 1/2".


What comes with my Balenciaga purchase?
A bag purchase usually comes with the white dust bag with the Balenciaga logo on it, and 4 white paper cards - controllato, year card, hang tag, and care card.   Starting in the 2009 season, small square leather swatches have been included as well.  Occasionally, you may also receive a box with the logo on it, but not every store has boxes.

Which bags have the engraved metal tag?
To my knowledge, the metal tags are in the First, City, and Work (since F/W 2005), and Weekender in classic hardware only.  There are no metal tags in Giant hardware bags.

What does Chevre and Agneau mean?
Chevre means goatskin leather.  Chevre has been completely discontinued in S/S 2008.  Agneau means lambskin leather which was introduced in F/W 2007 where there was both a mixture of Agneau and Chevre in production.  There has been much debate that Chevre is superior than Agneau, but no conclusion has ever been reached. 

Chevre has also made its brief appearance in the Holiday Hamilton bags for 2012.  This type of goatskin leather had a more pebbled texture rather than Balenciaga's traditional heavily distressed leather. 

What is the Papier collection?
The Papier bags and accessories are made from smooth veau (calfskin) and more recently agneau (lambskin)  leathers.  Many of the styles have a boxy paper bag style and thin handles.  It has the small nickle hardware and is very light in weight.  Many are fans since the leather is soft and durable. They come in various sizes such as the Mini A4 with messenger strap, A3, A4 and the new Basket style.

Papier A4 Tote in Mimosa

Which style would you recommend that has a cross body messenger strap?
In the order of largest to small, here are my recommendations for Balenciaga bags that you can carry hands free:  Maxi Twiggy, Velo, Town, and Hip.

Is there another way to tell the year of my Balenciaga bag if I don't have the paper cards?
If your Balenciaga bag is one of the models with the interior metal engraved tag, you can figure out the year  and season from the designated letter from it.   The letter is engraved on the metal before the degree symbol.

For reference:
  • H=S/S 2014 (metal tag font has been redesigned)
  • I = F/W 2013
  • J = S/S 2013
  • K = F/W 2012
  • L = S/S 2012
  • M = F/W 2011
  • N = S/S 2011
  • O = F/W 2010 
  • P = S/S 2010
  • Q = F/W 2009
  • R = S/S 2009 Raised Brass HW, Silver Giant HW, Body Colored HW
  • S = F/W 2008 Raised Brass HW, Gold Giant Hardware, Silver Giant HW, Body Colored HW
  • T = S/S 2008 Raised Brass HW, Gold Giant Hardware, Silver Giant HW
  • U = F/W 2007 Raised Brass HW, Gold Giant Hardware, Silver Giant HW
  • V = S/S 2007 Raised Brass HW, Gold Giant HW
  • W = F/W 206 Raised Brass HW Pony hair had raised silver HW
  • Y = S/S 2006 Raised Brass HW White Pony hair had Swarovski crystals
  • Z = F/W 2005 Raised Brass HW Canvas had raised silver HW
  • A = S/S 2005 Raised Brass HW Metallics has raised silver HW
  • B = F/W 2004 Raised Brass HW with Sans Serif Font from here on out
  • C = S/S 2004 Raised Silver/Pewter HW with Serif Font
  • D = F/W 2003 Raised Silver/Pewter HW with Serif Font
  • S/S 2003 Raised Silver/Pewter HW
  • F/W 2002 Suede with Raised Silver HW
  • S/S 2002 Smooth and Pebbled Leather with Flat Brass HW
  • F/W 2001 Smooth and Pebbled Leather with Flat Brass HW 
If your bag has just the interior leather only tag, your best bet is to guess by identifying the color to match the specific season.  Feel free to email me if you would like help.

 I've heard they made some changes in F/W 2008 to some of the bags, what are they?
In F/W 2008, there had been some subtle yet still noticeable changes to the bags, some good and bad.  First, they've stopped providing an extra set of tassels with the bags because they claim that they used better glue so they no longer split.  Second, the metal engraved tag is no longer made of pure silver (no .925 markings).  The interior pockets have been made deeper, and the mirror that comes with the bags no longer have the pocket.

More recently within the 2012 season, cell phone interior pockets have been added, and small changes to the leather tag have been made. 

Are there sales on Balenciaga bags?
Yes, they do have sales on the non-motorcycle line, and some of the funky motorcycle bags like the straw canvas ones etc.  Occasionally some major departments stores do have sales to clear out some room for the newest season bags coming in.  These sales are far and few in between unfortunately.

My tassels have split/torn, where can I purchase extra ones?
The Balenciaga boutiques carry extra tassels in current colors only, but they will only sell to you if you purchased the bag directly from them.  The price is now $30 for a set. Also, try contacting the department store/boutique you've purchased from to see if they can order a set on your behalf.

Also if you're interested in repairing your split tassels, click here to see my DIY post. 

How many Balenciaga boutiques are there in the US?
There are currently 7 boutiques in the US.  They are located in New York,  East Hampton, NY, Las Vegas, Nevada (2), and California (Costa Mesa and Los Angeles).  The newest one that recently opened is located in Florida.

There's no Balenciaga boutique in my area, will they ship to me instead?
Yes! All boutiques take mail orders over the phone/email.  Be prepared to fill out a charge authorization form that you can either email or fax  back.  Ground UPS Shipping is always complimentary and will require a signature upon delivery. Also if there is no Balenciaga boutique in your state, you will also not be charged tax! Alternatively, you may shop at their online website if you are not particular about your leather distressing. 

If I order from abroad from a Balenciaga boutique, will I incur any fees?
Unfortunately, yes you will.  The boutique will only use a private delivery service, such as UPS or DHL and they charge a percentage of the bag's worth which will consist of both a brokerage/custom fee.  The boutiques will NOT mark as a gift or declare a lower value of the bag.

I got my bag from a secondary source, how can I confirm if its authentic?
Please refer to The Purse Forum's Balenciaga "Authentic This" thread.  Be sure to provide clear pictures of the bag's interior tag (front and back), bale (twisted metal piece that connects the shoulder strap to the bag) and rivet (screw behind the stud on the handle).  You can also try other handbag authentication services for a fee. 

What are some recommended care products I should use on my Balenciaga?
Please see my brief post about LMB products.  To be honest, I usually follow "if it isn't broken don't fix it" motto.  I only condition my bags if they are really needed, such as seeing white veins from dry spots, other than that I leave my bags alone.  Currently, you can also purchase the official Balenciaga nourishing cream from the boutiques for $20 (last time I checked), but I have yet to try it.

source chocolateandcouture

The corners on my bag are starting to look worn, is there anything I can do about it?
For black bags, I recommend using Fiebing's Edge Kote in black.  Dab it on with a fine paint brush and let dry.  It should revive corners/piping back to almost new! Edge Kote is manufactured in Black, Tan, Light Tan, Brown, Light Brown, Cordovan, Burgundy, Mahogany and Neutral.  I've had great results with the Black and Mahogany so far.  If you have any leather bags close to any of these colors, it's definitely worth a shot to try.
I've purchased mine from Ebay.

Fiebing's Edge Kote

What are your recommended must haves for the first time Balenciaga shopper?
You cannot go wrong with the City bag! I recommend either the Classic or Giant Silver/Rose Gold Hardware in black.  If you are not a heavy bag type of person, might I suggest the new G12 Hardware City bag? If you are not much a satchel double handles kind of person, a Classic Day is the next best choice if you are a hobo bag fan.  If you only an essentials type of person and only carry wallet, keys, cell, and lipstick, then the Classic First or G12 Hardware First would make a great bag for you.

If your budget allows you to, their iconic and timeless classic leather biker jacket is a must for many Balenciaga lovers.  Also, another style is the quilted leather biker jacket which is quickly becoming a classic too.

I would only recommend the Classic First or G21 Hardware First bag if you carry only the essentials on a daily basis, such as wallet, cell phone, and keys. 

Lastly for accessories, I also highly recommend the beautiful Money Wallet with giant hardware or a Make Up clutch to keep all your essentials organized in your new bag.  The triple tour and classic bracelets are a favorite and also Balenciaga ballerina flats are super comfortable and chic.  One of my favorite sandals of all time would be the arena studded sandal with rose gold hardware.

What are some recommended places I can purchase authentic Balenciaga bags?
Please see my reputable stores list or check out below for quick online shopping for Balenciaga bags and accessories.