It is true if your main criteria for purse ownership is something that will allow you to port items around with you, your options are pretty wide open for far less expensive things that will serve that purpose. However, let's look at why expensive bags are expensive.
First of all, an expensive bag is usually made of real leather. Real leather comes from real animals, in case you didn't know. (duh, yeah you knew, I knew you knew) I mean that sounds super OBVIOUS, but think about it. Think about animals and how they live. What sort of conditions they are exposed to. If it's cowhide then it's easier to find a surface that is unflawed enough to make a handbag. But still, there are normal things that happen to animals, birth defects, injuries, etc. that make is a little tricky sometimes to find PERFECT hides which can be tanned into perfect leather. Tanning itself is not a quick and easy process. It's messy and laborious. The hides are brain tanned which in and of itself is more tricky because you have to have brain matter to tan with. Other tanners use chemical processes, but most of the major bag manufacturers do not. They still find traditional tanning methods to be the best. These are artisans who carefully chose the hides and then carefully tan them. Then think about how difficult it is to find a crocodile or an alligator with no mars in their hide. Think about how that animal survives and fights within it's own species. They have scars. And scars are not acceptable on an expensive bag. So the price goes up if you want a leather from an animal with more natural scarification. Then the leathers have to be dyed. And that is no easy process either to get the perfect hues. Fashion hues are very very specific.
The artisans trained to actually craft an Hermes bag spend a couple of years in training first before they are ever allowed to make an actual bag that will be sold to a customer. A COUPLE OF YEARS of training. The bags are made entirely by hand. Every bit of it is hand stitched, cut, trimmed, etc. Nothing is done on a machine. Even when they are finally allowed to work on a bag, most new artisans take around 40 hours to complete ONE stitched together bag. Here is a video that shows some of the stitching process:
And here is something else about an Hermes (or even some of the other high end hand bags). They are considered an investment. If you get in a bind you can always sell your bag for cold hard cash. I recently saw on a television show a women have to give up two of her Hermes bags as part of a lawsuit because she didn't have the cash to settle. You won't ever be able to do that with a bag you bought at Target. :)
I hope that answers some of the questions about why high end bags are so...well, high end.
Here are some beauties I've been pinning lately:
Chanel, Alligator, $5,500
Dior, Calfskin, $2,500
Hermes, Baby Bull Leather, $15,000
Valentino, Calfskin, $1,945
Dolce & Gabbana, Calfskin, $2,995
Michael Kors, Calfskin, $995 (look how reasonable this seems! :) Perspective!)
Fendi, Goatskin, $3,750
Marc Jacobs, Calfskin, $1795
Which is why I'm going to stick with Kate Spade for now...
This little beauty in pebbled cowhide is only $490
(and if I get lucky and find it at Last Chance or an outlet...even better!)