For most of my childhood, my mother carried the Patricia, a classic black leather Coach bag with simple but chic gold hardware. The contents of the bag were orderly and sparse: a red leather wallet, an Estée Lauder or Clinique lipstick, and car keys. You’d rarely find a gum wrapper or an old receipt buried at the bottom. The bag was something to be cared for; my mother didn’t have the money to buy herself a new purse whenever she wanted, so when she did get a new bag, it had to last. And for her, that meant it had to be leather — a textile that awakened all five senses, that was a precious commodity itself. I can still see her on Christmas morning, tidily unwrapping the present she had purchased and wrapped for herself days before (we’ve all done it, let’s be honest), carefully lifting the bag from the box, running her hands down the side, holding it up to her face, and saying, “It’s real leather … I can smell it.” There were no visible labels (we were not a Louis Vuitton or Tory Burch family), nor airplane tickets for a tropical vacation tucked inside. The leather itself was the statement, the status, and the ultimate luxury. So it wasn’t surprising that when, as a teenag...