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Bagging a Bargain

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How do high-end handbags sold in manufacturers’ outlets stack up against similar but pricier bags in retail stores?

We brought a Coach hobo bag purchased at the Coach store in Westfield Montgomery mall and the same style from the Coach outlet in Rehoboth, Delaware, to leather expert Terry Fortuna of Fortuna’s in Bethesda. We asked her to find any differences.

She found none. Both bags were made with the same leather, signature fabric, lining, stitching, and hardware, according to Fortuna.

We also asked her to evaluate two Kate Spade bags—one from Nordstrom and one purchased at the Kate Spade outlet in Leesburg. The styles were slightly different, but Fortuna again found that both were constructed with the same leather, lining, stitching, and hardware.

“The quality of the outlet bags is amazing,” Fortuna said.

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