How to Invest In A Vintage Designer Handbag

By Noa Ben Moshe

Handbags are a little bit magic. When you find one you love, it becomes a part of you – you can’t leave the house without it, it shares great times and goes to great places with you, and people even associate you with it. So choosing the perfect handbag is an important task.

You can go for a super eco-friendly vegan model, such as those made from apple leather by Nuwaii, or the adjustable cork models from Svala. Another sustainable choice is a great vintage designer handbag. They may be a bit more pricey, but it’s well worth the investment.

In fact, research by HEWI London (formerly Hardly Ever Worn It London) has found that vintage luxury bags can be an excellent investment. In fact, popular designer bags have increased in resale value more so than houses and cars over the past 10 years, with the value of Chanel Medium Classic Flap bags and Hermes Birkin bags predicted to only increase further.

HEWI London’s study discovered that:

  • Hermes Birkins have increased over 153% in the last 10 years. Based on its current rate of increase, the value will be almost a whopping £50,000 by 2028.
  • Chanel’s Medium Classic Flap bag value has increased by almost 10% annually; 92% in the last 10 years. It is predicted to cost a minimum of £7,000 by 2028.

In comparison, the value of a Rolls Royce Phantom has only increased 4.4% annually, whilst a detached house has increased by 6% annually, meaning purchasing a used Birkin bag gives you nearly 6 times a better return on your investment! 

How to Invest In A Vintage Designer Handbag
Image credit: Catherine B

Varied Brands

But it’s not just vintage Chanel and Hermes that have seen such strong growth in value over the last decade; vintage designer handbags by other designers such as Valentino, Gucci, Dior and Balenciaga are also becoming increasingly strong items to invest in.

Founder of HEWI London, Sharon Wolter-Ferguson says:

“Chanel and Hermes bags have never, and I don’t see how they ever will, lose their ability to give a girl the feeling she’s made it.” They make you smile, look gorgeous, and they will never, ever end up as landfill: “Someone is always going to want your Chanel or Hermes bag, it’ll never struggle to find a new home, if well cared for and at the right price,’’ she states.

But how should you go about choosing the right vintage handbag to sink your money into? We’ve asked HEWI and Chanel and Hermes expert Catherine Benier for some tips.

How to Invest In A Vintage Designer Handbag

How to Invest In A Vintage Designer Handbag

1. Don’t Buy a Bag That Doesn’t Match Your (Life)Style

What do you want from this bag? Will it be at your side every day, or is it just for special occasions? Do you often carry a lot of stuff around with you each day, like laptops and books, or are you good to go with your keys, phone and wallet? Are you a tee shirt and jeans kinda gal, or are you more likely to be out and about in designer gear and heels? Asking yourself these questions will determine the size and style of the bag you should choose.

Also ask yourself: what’s the one colour that would match most of your outfits? Black, grey, nude and tan are great hues to stick to when buying your vintage designer handbag, as they can be easily worn with pretty much everything.

But that being said, if you are thinking about reselling afterwards, you should know that some unusual colours can grab more resale cash. For example, the 8th most expensive handbag in the world was a rare fuchsia Hermes bag, which fetched a whopping $222,000 at an auction of Christie’s in Hong Kong back in 2015. It’s probably worth more today!

How to Invest In A Vintage Designer Handbag

2. Take Good Care

Be careful with your purchase. The value of your bag will continue to rise, IF you keep it in good condition. Beware exploding pens and cosmetics in the interior, and clean the outside of the bag regularly with an appropriate product.

To keep your bag looking great for years, Catherine suggests you follow these tips:

  • Store your bag properly. Most luxury handbags come with a dustbag for a reason- it’s meant to protect the exterior from fading in the sun, excess moisture and dust, and heat. When not in use, keep your bag in a cool, dry place.
  • To keep its shape, stuff the handbag with old newspaper or clothes when not in use. Be sure not to stack other accessories or clothing on top of it in your closet.
  • Don’t place overly heavy items in your bag; this will damage the shape of the bag and/or its handles.
  • If your bag breaks or suffers damage for some reason, take it back to the brand – they may charge more, but they’re experts in the bags they produce and will be much better and more meticulous at repairing it than the shoe repair guy on the corner.

How to Invest In A Vintage Designer Handbag

3. Consider Supply and Demand

If there’s a limited edition bag you see for sale in the vintage shop, snap it up! Catherine Benier has done so, and now owns several unique Chanel bags, such as the ‘supermarket’ series and even some flap bags made from denim, which are now worth a fortune! If supply is low, demand is high.

That being said, there is always high demand for some of the most common models of vintage designer handbag. The following bags are likely to give you a great return on investment:

  • Louis Vuitton Speedy
  • Chanel 2.55
  • Hermes Birkin Bag
  • Louis Vuitton Neverfull Tote
  • Saint Laurent Cabas Chyc Tote
  • Chloe Paraty Tote
  • Prada Bowler Bag

4. Make Sure It’s Authentic

It’s easy to be duped by fake brands. Many actually look authentic to the untrained eye, and unless you do your research, you may be charged thousands of dollars for something fake that was cleverly made in China. It’s too complicated to explain here how to spot a dupe, and it’s also quite brand specific, but you can find some good advice for spotting a faux Louis Vuitton here, or a fake Chanel flap bag here. Those are probably two of the most counterfeited brands.

Additionally, you should know where to shop: Les 3 Marches de Catherine B is definitely one place you will find a treasure trove of authentic Chanel and Hermes bags in Paris; Farfetch, Designer Vintage. and the Vintage Bar are a few trusted places you can find verified authentic vintage designer handbags online. 

5. Go As High As You Can

Sometimes, as the old adage goes, you need to spend money to make money, so save up to invest as much as you can in a vintage designer handbag. If you can afford a Chanel 2.55, go for it – but if you can save up a bit more for a limited edition one, even better. The best investment, of course, would be a Birkin, but if that (and Chanel) are out of your price range, go for a less expensive label like Saint Laurent or Valentino, for example.

Whatever you choose, remember – this is not only a great investment, it’s a fun new part of your wardrobe, so be sure to truly enjoy rocking your vintage designer handbag!

Image credit: Catherine B

For more info or to shop online, take a look at the Vintage Bar for authentic vintage designer bags. All Louis Vuitton image credits: Image credit 2: Catherine B. Prada image credit 3 here. Valentino image credit 5 here. Saint Laurent image credit 6 here. Final image credit: Catherine B

Noa Ben-Moshe
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