Ever wondered if your Lady Dior or Louis Vuitton bags are worth their hefty price tag? Volkan Yilmaz or TannerLeatherstein' as he is better known on social media, is here to tell you the truth.
Meet the man who burns and destroys luxury handbags to show their true worth. If it means cutting, tearing, burning and destroying the most beautiful luxury leather goods in the process, then so be it. "I believe it is my life purpose to help people understand and experience leather better," said US-based Yilmaz in an interview to the New York Post. Hailing from a family of second generation leather tanners in Turkey, he is perhaps better placed than most others to do so.
His mission is a simple one — to determine the true price of manufacturing the bag (or shoes, wallets, belts and other sundry leather goods), including the leather used to make it, any kind of finishing to preserve the leather, the cost of stitching, and the quality of the accessories. After determining this amount, which is usually a fraction of the cost of the product, he leaves it to the viewer to determine the true value of the product. In some cases, when the cost of production is closer to the final price, he applauds the brands, and in others, he merely shrugs it off saying, "Even those brands know they are in the business of status. I just want to give you a perspective from a leather and craftsmanship standpoint."
Some of his most popular videos include the deconstruction of the Louis Vuitton Felicie Pochette, valued at $1,620. In a video that has racked over 1.8M views he determines its cost of production as being roughly $110. However, he declares some bags as complete wins such as the Bottega Veneta Mini Acro, which is "top of the line" despite its hefty price tag of $2,900, because it uses premium quality leather and has fine craftsmanship. Reasonably priced bags like the Coach Pillow Tabby, which retails for just $395, also garner his appreciation and social media views. Yilmaz buys most of the bags himself except for those that are sent to him by brands keen to showcase their true value to the world, or by followers who want to know the truth. His massive following on TikTok and Instagram attest to the fact that his audacious projects appeal to many viewers. However, while some call them educational, others feel bad about the fashion massacre.
Kulveen Kaur Sarna is the founder of New-York based label KREYA, which creates innovative multi-functional high quality leather handbags like their bestseller ‘Aurora’ which transforms from a tote to a backpack and vice versa. She believes that Yilmaz is "trying to make a valid point." Highlighting that consumers today prefer to be informed, Sarna feels his videos provide an honest outlook as he walks you through the process and seems genuine in his analysis. She feels videos of this nature, instead of being a threat to her business, can help it grow as people look for good value in their products. Here she reiterates, "Most luxury handbag purchases are made for the sake of the brand value, the perceived or actual status that they bring to the wearer, rather than an interest in leather itself."
Delhi-based lawyer Vibhooti Malhotra has been an avid lover of designer bags since her college days and began investing in them soon after graduating. "For me, these handbags are like packets of female ambition — something so uniquely feminine, so magnificent, powerful and yet accessible daily," she explains. Having discovered Yilmaz’s videos a few months ago, she watches them out of interest but never lets his assessment interfere with her own choice. She explains. "While the videos make for interesting content, I wouldn’t consider his views while deciding on my purchases. My handbag journey is characterised by milestones — personal and professional."
One wonders what the brands feel. Yilmaz’s videos show that some companies like Hermes refuse to entertain his queries about price and availability of products to keep the veneer of exclusivity for potential customers. On a similar vein, Shivika Poonglia, co-founder of Itara Jewelry, a premium brand of lab-grown diamonds, decries Yilmaz’s content for oversimplification. She says, "While the video is entertaining and informative, it only takes the raw materials into account, which are just a base factor. Other important factors like design, craftsmanship, vision, and brand value are arguably even more important." She concludes, "Luxury buyers don’t base their decisions on these videos alone, and as manufacturers of luxury goods, our focus remains on producing the best products and delivering exceptional customer service."
Noor Anand Chawla writes on lifestyle for various publications