When TikTok user Julianna Song (@juliqnnq) decided to rewatch Gossip Girl from the beginning during quarantine, she never expected her video about Serena van der Woodsen's purse would go viral.
But when she realized that an old Coach handbag she had stuffed in her closet was actually the exact same one Blake Lively's character Serena van der Woodsen famously carried in the opening scene of the series' pilot episode, she posted a TikTok video about it — and it's now amassed over 7 million views.
Fans couldn't believe Song had the same purse as van der Woodsen. "What are the odds! Lol lucky you," one commenter wrote. Even Coach weighed in writing, "What a find," with a wink emoji.
To get to the bottom of the history of the bag, Song reached out to Coach and headed to the brand's N.Y.C. flagship store to have a master craftsman evaluate it in person. She documented the entire experience in another viral TikTok video, revealing that the craftsman was "shocked" to see an older model saved in such "pristine condition." He explained how the handiwork on the bag differs from modern Coach designs and revealed that it is from the original 2000 Hamptons Summer Collection.
So far, Song hasn't shared more about what she plans to do with the bag to her TikTok followers, but PEOPLE caught up with her to get the full story. Read on below for all the exclusive details.
PEOPLE: Where and when did you originally get this purse?
Song: My grandmother gave the bag to my mom who then gifted it to me while I was in high school. The bag was originally purchased from Bloomingdale's over 10 years ago for about $500. None of us knew the connection it had to Gossip Girl!
PEOPLE: You said it was in your closet but you had never really worn it – why? Would you wear it now?
Song: It wasn’t my style as a high schooler, but I was holding onto it for the sentimental value. I initially intended to use it after graduating college and working in the production industry, but with everything going on in the world I’m still searching for my dream TV production job. After learning the history of this bag, I wouldn’t dare use it because it’s too precious.
PEOPLE: Was this your first time watching Gossip Girl? Did you ever notice that you had her same bag before recently re-watching?
Song: Of course I’m a Gossip Girl fan! How can anyone not fall in love with such an iconic show? Having experience in film and TV production, I’m usually very attentive to small on-screen details. I cannot believe it wasn’t until binging Gossip Girl while self-isolating at home that I noticed I had the same bag.
PEOPLE: How did you get in touch with Coach to schedule an appointment with a craftsman?
Song: After the overwhelming response and the number of questions from my first video, I did some research on who could give me information about a vintage Coach item. After finding an expert craftsman of over 30 years in Coach’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue, I arranged a time to meet with him.
PEOPLE: Did the craftsman estimate how much this bag is now worth?
Song: The most common question I get in the comments is how much is the bag worth. The expert craftsman said it's is impossible to price at this point because there are so many factors that are driving up the value. The bag originated from Coach’s Hampton Collection. It's new and in pristine condition with the original tissue paper. It debuted in Gossip Girl’s pilot episode when the audience sees Serena van der Woodsen for the first time and has now gone viral on TikTok and gained mainstream media attention. Because of the unique situation and story, this specific bag is unlike any other of its kind.
PEOPLE: What was your reaction when your TikTok videos started to go viral?
Song: It was an unexpected and surreal experience. Initially I wanted to just share this realization about Serena’s introductory scene with other Gossip Girl fans. I had no idea it would go viral. I had less than 100 followers on TikTok before sharing this video and I’m blown away that almost 10 million people are invested in the story and have so much to say about what I should do next with the bag.
PEOPLE: So, what are you thinking about doing with the bag?
Song: In my first video I showed myself listing it on eBay with photographs I took in my bedroom. The auction began with a low starting bid of $25 to attract more people to the listing and give everyone a chance to bid on it. eBay took the listing down within 30 minutes because it was flagged for being too low of a starting bid for a designer item. Who knew you could get in trouble for not asking for enough money?
I’ve received countless messages of offers from interested collectors and fans, but I have not made a decision on the next steps. Because this bag is so special I’ve even received suggestions on TikTok that Blake Lively herself should buy the bag. Ultimately, I want this bag to go to the person who will truly appreciate it for its history with Coach and on Gossip Girl. So if Blake Lively wants the bag, it’s hers!
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