Hello! I am back again with another review, this time of the square mini which has actually probably been one of the longest surviving styles of Chanel (not as long as the classic flap, but certainly wouldn't be too far off). It's one part of the "holy trinity" of vintage Chanel as I would say. But as you'll see from the post below, certain design tweaks have made it feel and look like quite a different bag! Same name, but very different silhouette.
Personally this is my second favorite vintage Chanel style, second only of course to the Diana!
This bag is a square and dimensions are 17cm by 17cm. There's also a slightly bigger "square" model which is completely unique to the vintage market and is no longer made by Chanel, not even as a seasonal item and definitely isn't a classic staple, that one runs 20cm by 20cm (again, square). In this blog, used for comparison is the new mini square at 17cm and a 20cm vintage classic (just because this is the only vintage square I have on hand for useful comparison)
As I have done for the Diana, this will be a few part series featuring various aspects of the square mini.
Vintage or New?
This is a new argument to the MGFT space because the Diana never really had a proper contender in the new seasonal Chanel. This is actually something I thought about actually when I first conceived of MGFT. What's the difference between the two designs, would people actually actively prefer the vintage style like me? I'll do my best attempt to showcase a reasoned response to why I would say without a doubt, go vintage!
I am a practical person at heart, as you can see from my expansive bag collection (haha!). Chanel constantly increases their bag prices by quite a high percentage (definitely above inflation) and so at the price the current lambskin new mini squares retail for (around HK$28,500 where I'm based, and I live in a consumption tax-free space already) it's at a very premium price point. The vintage version however hasn't YET ( comparable leather-on-leather comparison of course), market rate is still a few thousand HKD less than that. This makes the vintage lambskin square mini a real steal (especially when you factor in my next few points!)
Obviously none of the above holds true for the caviar square mini as (a) Chanel has stopped production of the square mini in that leather finishing and second hand older versions go for a market rate of around HK$34,000 (at the time of writing this post). Perhaps this is just a result of economic scarcity but the vintage mini version retails for a very similar price if not higher for the rarer colors.
No secret here that I, Granddaughter am a VERY PARTICULAR PERSON. I am incredibly fussy and one thing that has really often bothered me is how no one ever comments on the silhouette of how a bag looks (worn and otherwise just generally adorned). This is what makes the Diana the ultimate bag for me as the silhouette just looks so darn elegant.
On this point, the vintage square mini winds hands down, no questions ask. The new square mini is often called 方胖子 in Chinese and that literally means a "fat square thing". There's a reason its called that because gosh that new square mini is a really fat thing and no matter how slim you are, if something fat is appended on you it makes you look fatter! Obviously some of us can afford the extra love handle, but for me I really can't afford to take up more of a physical foot print than I already have, so this is a total no-go for me. As always, I back this up with PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, because I put my dollars where my mouth is and here is a photo of my new design chevron square mini.
The vintage square mini however is incredibly slim. In its construction, it is already much lighter and the actual thickness of the lather is much slimmer, the quilting is also not as puffy as the new styles. Worn, it doesn't jut out as much like an extra love handle, but sits flat against your hipbone.
You can see from above and below just how much wider the base is for the newer version. Yes, may MARGINALLY fit slightly more but really a lot of that is taken up by a thicker leather and doesn't translate to actually any more storage space.
Another aspect which adds to the girth of the new design is how round the corners are. This just adds to the whole "I am a fattie" vibe for the new mini square.
One of the reasons the newer design is also so fat is that there is also a back pocket, which just adds to the thickness again.
You can see here how the back pocket, which I have always hated in the newer design adds to quite a bit more thickness.
Another interesting design tweak is the CC logo. If you're like me and you love subtlety, then the vintage style is also much better at whispering Chanel rather than SHOUTING it. You can definitely see below just how much bigger the new lock is compared to the vintage one.
Interesting how as the designs change over the years, they just get louder and louder and subtlety just dies. Look at how big our watch dials have become now - they basically cover your entire wrist, but more on that topic another day.
The one thing that has changed is the strap drop. The vintage version has always remained quite a bit shorter than the new square mini. Is this a problem? Maybe not as the square mini was always particularly appealing to the petite ladies who wanted a shorter strap anyways. For me, I like it falling a bit higher because I've always found it looking more FASHUN that way.
Other points to note which are NOT specific to the mini but hold true across all vintage styles is the beautiful leather quality and superior craftsmanship. I don't think this is a vote for the vintage version per se but a vote for vintage Chanel as a whole!
I am obviously biased. I have owned this vintage square mini, in various sizes and versions many times over. I didn't really go out of my wake to pick it because it was vintage, but because I had noticed my own chevron square mini just always looked so bulky and not sleek. I then bought the mini version and it was love at first sight. The vintage version is cheaper, slimmer and more elegant. The only real pitfall is a very limited color selection and a mostly gold hardware selection. But if you're a neutral lover like me, vintage all the way I say!
good info. i am now contemplating between new square (adjustable ball) vs vintage myself both in lambskin. i agreed with bulky new version tho
Great comparison review. I like reading review blogs like these than watching YouTube videos. I only own a mini square & mini rectangle and was curious about the vintage size of the mini. You are absolutely right: the ‘puffiness’ of the newer minis make them look like ‘lumps’ on our hips! 😆 Up until the onset of COVID-19, mini bags were all the rage but now the 17 cm seems unusable with all the ‘stuff’ we have to bring nowadays: hand sanitizer, mask, disinfecting wipes in addition to card holder, coin purse, lipstick, reading glasses, car keys, and house keys. And that’s my bare bones everyday essentials! Snd we are NOT supposed to stuff leather bags to near explosion. So, besides being on the hunt for a small Diana, I’d probably add this little gem to my short list. It’s always all about the hunt! 💕