As two of the most popular French luxury fashion brands, it can be difficult to choose between YSL vs Chanel – that’s where this article comes in to help you make a decision.
Both of these French fashion houses are known for their incredible ready-to-wear collections, beautiful luxury goods, and iconic handbags. Although YSL and Chanel may seem similar on the surface, when you delve deeper, you can see there are also significant differences between these two luxury brands.
This article will explore the history of YSL vs Chanel, the key differences between the brands, and a look at the top handbags, before coming to a conclusion on YSL vs Chanel – helping you to decide which brand is best for you!
YSL vs Chanel
The history of YSL
Yves Saint Laurent founded his eponymous French fashion house in 1962 in collaboration with his partner Pierre Bergé. Saint Laurent sought freedom to create his own Avant Garde womenswear that would appeal to the artistic youths that could be found on the Left Bank, or Rive Gauche as it is known in French, of Paris’s River Seine.
Yves Saint Laurent had previously worked as the creative director of the beloved French brand, Christian Dior, but the older, wealthy clients did not warm to his youthful, unusual designs. After his time in the Army and a stay in the hospital, Saint Laurent returned to France and set up his own fashion house, wanting to democratize luxury fashion, making it more available to the younger generation across Europe.
The Beatnik look and tuxedo suit for women, called Le Smoking suit, were some of YSL’s most popular designs in the 1960s and 70s, influencing the trends of women’s fashion all over the world. Then in 1978, his collection focused on a silhouette that had broad shoulders, emphasized with shoulder pads, which would go on to characterize the style of the 1980s.
In the 1990s, Yves Saint Laurent was finding the workload of two haute couture shows and two pret-a-porter shows a year too much, and so Pierre Bergé hired French fashion designer and photographer Hedi Slimane in 1997 to design the ready-to-wear collections. This way, Saint Laurent could focus on the haute couture shows himself, which were his favorite to design.
Slimane only stayed for a few years before leaving the position, after which Tom Ford took over as creative director. In 2007, Hedi Slimane returned to the French luxury fashion house and began to rebrand, first by removing the Yves part of the brand name to create the Saint Laurent name we know today.
This was a controversial move by the designer, but Slimane ensured the historic YSL logo, which first became a part of the brand in 1963, still featured on YSL bags to keep this heritage element of the brand alive.
Slimane left the role of creative director in 2016 and Italian designer Anthony Vaccarello took over. Vaccarello has ensured that YSL remains at the forefront of the fashion world, creating outstanding ready-to-wear collections and totally irresistible leather goods.
The History of Chanel
The couturière Gabrielle Chanel, also known as Coco Chanel, started her namesake brand in 1910. At first, it was a millinery store but the brand quickly grew. Chanel soon added a ready-to-wear collection to her brand, which proved wildly popular due to the totally unique designs that Chanel produced.
Coco Chanel wanted to create clothing that she knew women really wanted to wear and her first step was to remove any need for corsets or boning under any of her clothing – these allowed women more comfort and more movement in their clothes.
Chanel’s ready-to-wear collection included functional skirts, trousers, and blouses, alongside comfy dresses that were easy to wear but also flattering. Chanel also put a lot of focus into the materials used to create her designs, often making use of jerseys, flannel, and linen which allowed movement and were not at all restrictive.
Chanel continued to create super fashionable clothing throughout the 20th century, becoming a key designer in 1920 with her little black dress, which stood out from all the bright colors that were used by other designers during this period.
As the popularity of Chanel clothing continued, the brand continued to grow and soon jewelry, perfumes, leather goods, and handbags were added to the collection. These new accessories often included elements that Chanel designs were known for, such as pearls, camellias, and a black and white color scheme.
After Gabrielle Chanel passed away in 1971, Karl Lagerfeld took over as Chief Designer and continued to create incredible collections that ensured Chanel remained one of the most popular brands in the fashion industry.
His impressive prêt-à-porter and haute couture collections wowed the world with their elaborate sets, astonishing locations, and, of course, the collections themselves. Virginie Viard took over the role of Creative Director in 2019 after working at Chanel under Lagerfeld since the 1990s.
Viard continued the legacy of the Chanel brand by mixing classic, heritage Chanel elements with new silhouettes to create clothing that is always highly desirable.
The Differences between YSL Vs Chanel
There are several key differences between these two brands and their luxury brands that you should be aware of before you decide which brand is best for you.
1. Price range
It is important to consider the price range of these fashion houses and which best fits your own budget. YSL bags will have a price tag of between $1,000 and $4,690 depending on the size and materials of the designer handbag.
Chanel is more expensive, with most bags sitting between the price points of $5,000 and $10,000, although more affordable options under $5,000 exist too, mainly in the form of wallets-on-chains.
Again, it depends on the style and material of the bag as to how much it will cost, and it is worth bearing in mind that larger bags made from exotic fabrics and leathers, such as crocodile or python, will be significantly more expensive.
Both Chanel and Saint Laurent are known to increase the prices of their bags on a regular basis, but Chanel’s increases are definitely steeper because the starting price of the bags are higher. Some of the most desirable Chanel bags have increased as much as 40% over a period of 2-3 years!
Both of these brands use a variety of fabrics and materials when crafting their luxury bags, and it is really worth considering the type of material of the bag and seeing if it suits your lifestyle as some materials are more durable than others.
Most YSL bags are made from calfskin leather, some with a more durable grained finish and matelassé quilting, while others have a smooth finish. There are also some Saint Laurent bags made from suede, denim, coated canvas, and woven straw – perfect if you are looking for something a little different!
Chanel bags, on the other hand, are often made from calfskin or lambskin leather, with either caviar or a smooth finish – again the texture of the caviar makes the leather more durable. Chanel also makes bags from goatskin and deerskin leather, as well as denim and tweed so there is a variety of options to choose from.
There are some restrictions on the availability of some of these handbags, making them more exclusive but also more difficult to get hold of the bag you want.
YSL have no limitations on their handbags; there are always many different bags in different colors in stock so you can easily and quickly get your hands on the bag you are looking for, whether that’s online or from a boutique. With this said, sometimes bags will of course go out of stock, but you won’t have to wait too long for them to become available again.
However, Chanel has gone through some changes in the past few years to make their bags more exclusive and therefore more highly desirable. There are limits on the number of Chanel bags you can buy in a year, as well as waiting lists to sign up for in order to get the bag you are looking for in the color and type of leather you want.
If you are looking at getting a Chanel bag, it is always worth looking at the resale market as there are a plethora of Chanel bags available in many colors and fabrics, which means you won’t have to join a waiting list! These restrictions on Chanel bags have an impact on the exclusivity of their bags which may have an impact on whether you go for a YSL or Chanel handbag.
4. Resale Value
Both Saint Laurent and Chanel bags are highly desired and thus hold their value well on the secondhand market. With this said, Chanel will always be the better brand to purchase if you are strictly looking for an investment bag that goes up in price over the years.
This is partly due to the exclusivity of the bags, the limited availability that they’ve posed on their own bags, and also because Chanel increases the prices of their most popular bags 1-2 times per year.
Both YSL and Chanel are known for a high-quality finish throughout their clothing, bags, and accessories, although Chanel pieces are slightly better in quality.
Chanel bags are made in Italy or France by highly-trained craftsmen who create high-quality pieces from luxurious materials. Although, it is worth noting that some feel the quality of Chanel bags is not as high as it used to be, which is in contradiction with the frequent price rises. The bags still have a high quality, but some customers have noted a few issues over the years, that do not match with the expensive price of the Chanel bags.
Saint Laurent bags are all made in Italy, at the brand’s leather goods workshop just outside of Florence. This factory is also home to a training center, where new craftsmen and artisans will be trained to create the YSL leather bags to the high standard we are used to.
Customers consider YSL bags to be high quality and designed to really stand the test of time, with luxe materials, precise stitching, and excellent hardware, that match the high price for the handbag.
Chanel and YSL are both known for their long and illustrious histories, but the heritage of Chanel is longer and perhaps richer too.
Chanel was founded in 1910 and really pushed the boundaries of women’s fashion throughout the early 20th century. This was also the time that stunning new handbags were introduced to the brand, fitted with shoulder straps which meant women could carry their bags hands-free as opposed to the hand-held handbags that were common at this time.
Karl Lagerfeld continued the legacy of Coco Chanel, creating Avant Garde designs that were unique and striking on the catwalk.
In comparison, Saint Laurent is a much newer brand, since it was founded in 1962, but the brand still has an interesting and influential heritage. Yves Saint Laurent was known for his ground-breaking designs, including the Beatnik look, Le Smoking suit, and shoulder pads in 1978, which went on to prove highly influential in 1980s fashions.
YSL may have a shorter history than Chanel, but like Chanel, YSL still has had a strong impact on fashion throughout the years.
7. Brand Aesthetic
YSL and Chanel have different brand aesthetics, and you may find that one aesthetic better suits your personal style.
The YSL aesthetic centers around minimalist and sleek silhouettes, neutral colors, and the bold YSL hardware decorating the front of Saint Laurent bags and leather goods. The Saint Laurent clothing, with Anthony Vaccarello as the creative director, features dark colors, elegant silhouettes, and expert tailoring for a smart and striking look.
Chanel has a much more classic and timeless brand aesthetic, with ready-to-wear collections often featuring sophisticated silhouettes, clean lines, and Chanel staples such as tweeds, camellias, skirt suits, and little black dresses.
Most Chanel bags feature a diamond quilting, and a leather threaded chain strap and are finished with a CC logo twist lock – similar to the YSL logo that sits on the front of Saint Laurent bags. Chanel bags have a chic and stylish look, with a structured shape and gleaming gold hardware.
If you like a classic, elegant, and timeless look that Chanel is a great brand for you, while if you like a smart, sleek, and striking look, then a YSL handbag will be a stunning addition to your wardrobe.
8. Celebrity Ambassadors
Brands often name celebrity ambassadors each year who will then feature in the advertising campaigns and wear this brand at any events or on the red carpet.
For Chanel, the current celebrity ambassadors include actresses Tilda Swinton, Kristen Stewart, Nana Komatsu, Vicky Krieps, and Margaret Qualley, K-Pop stars JENNIE and MINJI, South Korean rapper G-Dragon, and model Charlotte Casiraghi.
YSL does not have ambassadors for the Saint Laurent fashion collections but instead has named YSL beauty ambassadors who you may also see in YSL designs on the red carpet. These beauty ambassadors include K-Pop stars Rosé and Danielle Marsh, model Lila Moss, singer Dua Lipa, rapper Lil Nas X, and actress Zoe Kravitz.
As you can see, both brands include K-Pop artists and actresses as their brand ambassadors, but Chanel has many more ambassadors that you will see at red-carpet events and in fashion campaigns.
9. Where to Buy these brands
There is one more big difference between YSL and Chanel, and that is where you can buy luxury goods from these brands. It’s easy to get hold of most Saint Laurent pieces since you can buy items from their website, as well as Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus and plenty of other department stores.
Chanel, on the other hand, only offers their clothing, bags, and accessories through Chanel boutiques and you cannot buy any new handbags online.
This means it is slightly more difficult to buy a Chanel handbag, which is intended to make the brand more exclusive, while YSL is less concerned with exclusivity and therefore it is easy to buy YSL bags and luxury goods.
Our favorite handbags from YSL Vs Chanel
YSL and Chanel both create so many stunning handbags making it so hard to pick just one! Here we have brought together some of our favorite bags from YSL vs Chanel in a variety of styles to help you decide which brand and bag is best for you.
1. Shoulder bags
The YSL Leather Hobo Bag is one of Saint Laurent’s newest shoulder bags that’s gained a lot of popularity in a short amount of time. This timeless, classic bag has a sleek design and a rather affordable price tag – what more could you want?
The chic bag is made from supple calfskin, which is perfectly complemented by gold logo-engraved hardware. The shoulder strap is adjustable, while the interior features a zipper and slip pocket to help you stay organized – this bag would be the ideal everyday handbag, plus it’s available in lots of different colors!
The Chanel classic flap bag is an iconic handbag that is a must-have wardrobe piece. This edition of the classic flap bag is the small double flap, made from pale blue caviar leather and finished with gleaming gold hardware to form the CC turn lock and leather threaded chain strap.
This chain strap can be worn at full length to create a crossbody bag or doubled up to form a shoulder bag – so versatile!
2. Wallet on ChainS
This Kate Tassel Leather Wallet on a Chain is the ideal evening bag, with its timeless design and versatile nature. This Saint Laurent WOC is made from pebbled calfskin leather and then features gold YSL hardware and a shining chain tassel as the embellishments for a glamorous look.
This bag is finished with a gold chain strap that can be worn across the body or on the shoulder. There is a smaller version of this stunning bag available from Neiman Marcus.
There are many different Chanel WOC’s but we just love this Chanel Denim Quilted Chanel 19 Wallet On Chain that incorporates all the stunning elements of the Chanel 19 bags.
This neon pink wallet on chain is made from denim, which is a fun alternative to the usual leather finish, but in true Chanel style, the denim is still diamond quilted. As will all bags in the Chanel 19 collection, there is a mix of metals for the chain strap as well as a Chanel logo that is outlined with a delicate gold chain.
3. top handle bags
We love the elegant design of this College Medium YSL Matelasse Lambskin V-Flap Crossbody Bag with a padded leather top handle and a detachable shoulder strap.
The luxurious lambskin of this designer bag has a supple feel and is perfectly complimented by the gleaming gold YSL logo sitting on the front flap of this bag. This gorgeous bag is also available in black and white to suit any personal style.
If you are looking for a classic bag that will be an heirloom piece you will love forever, then this Chanel Mini Top Handle Rectangular Flap Bag is perfect for you.
The lambskin has been diamond quilted and then embellished with gold hardware. Along with the leather top handle, there is also a gold chain strap for endless styling options. The interior of this Chanel flap bag is lined with smooth leather and features several pockets.
4. Bucket Bags
Bucket bags are so trendy at the moment, and we think the neutral colors of this Saint Laurent Mini Chevron Canvas Bucket Bag are so chic!
The bag is made from a durable linen and cotton blend in an off-white shade and features a beige Saint Laurent branded panel at the bottom. This bucket bag secures with a drawstring, which allows easy access to the roomy interior. This YSL bag has a top handle as well as a detachable shoulder strap.
This Chanel Deerskin Chevron CC Chain Bucket Drawstring Bag has a really striking look with luxe black leather and dark hardware.
Crafted from deerskin leather, this Chanel bag has a flat leather top handle and a leather threaded chain drawstring with an oversized CC logo stopper. The side pockets are super handy, while the inside of the bag is pretty spacious. This beautiful bag is available for just $3,110!
YSL and Chanel both create beautiful bags that would look eternally stylish and fit perfectly into any luxury handbag collection. However, it comes down to your budget, your lifestyle, and the availability of these bags as to which brand you go for.
If you have a smaller budget and perhaps are looking for a slightly more durable bag, then YSL is the brand to go for as their handbags are significantly cheaper and the grained leather and quilting that feature on most bags make them more durable.
However, if you have a larger budget and are willing to wait for the bag you want, or go for a second-hand option, then go for a Chanel bag – you won’t regret it! These bags are more expensive, but they are a classic that will never go out of style – remember to think carefully about the material you go for as many of the more luxurious leather will scuff easily.
We hope you found this article analyzing YSL vs Chanel helpful! For more luxury fashion content, check out the links below.