Next to perhaps buying a car or your first home, your initial introduction into the designer handbag world is one you’ll always remember. Whether you went with a classic Chanel quilted bag or a trendier Louis Vuitton iteration, chances are, you probably still have this baby hanging in your closet today. Now, if you’re eager to add a new timeless member to your collection, it doesn’t hurt to hear from the experts how to shop for an investment bag. From thinking about your budget to finding a piece you’ll use forever, you might not have realized all the things you need to consider when you’re looking to splurge (which is where these pros come in).
To steer you in the right direction, TZR enlisted two experts on all things luxury handbags and resale — Sophie Hersan, co-founder and fashion director of Vestiaire Collective, and Charles Gorra, CEO and founder of Rebag. Each insider brings a uniquely informed perspective on what makes a good investment and the specific bag styles that have the potential to stand the test of time.
From the get-go, any prospective investment bag customer should be prepared to answer a few key questions, according to Gorra: “Will this bag add value and functionality to my daily life? Is this bag something that will transition from season to season, from year to year? And finally, can I care for this piece to keep it in its prime condition?” If you'd answer any of these with a "no," it’s time to move on.
Consumers should also think about a bag’s second-life potential. It turns out, twice as many consumers consider the resale value of an item before making a purchase than they did five years ago, as Hersan shares, it’s only wise to approach a fashion investment with ROI in mind — even if you think you'll hold onto your purchase for years.
To break down the process further, these two experts share five specific things to consider before your next luxury handbag purchase, below.
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“We typically recommend investing in leather handbags over those made with fabrics as they last longer and wear better over time,” advises Gorra when it comes to preferred materials. “Fraying and deterioration become an issue, even if you take really good care of it. Leather, such as calfskin, is sturdier, ages well, and can take constant wear a lot better. Lambskin is a softer, more delicate option that requires a bit more care but stands the test of time.”
While Gorra suggests steering clear of suede, Hersan adds that alternatives to leather, such as vegan leather, nylon, and monogram canvas can maintain their quality over time with proper care.
Consider The Shape
Handbags come in all shapes and sizes — anything from the rectangular Chanel Boy Bag to the curves of a Dior Saddle, to an origami-inspired silhouette of a Loewe Puzzle. “Shapes and silhouettes are more personal,” says Hersan of your options, “but many brands are returning to their heritage designs for inspiration. For example, the Celine Triomphe, Louis Vuitton Pochette, Gucci Marmont, and Fendi Baguette have all seen a resurgence in value and become ‘It’ bags again!” Ultra-classic silhouettes can make for a smart investment choice.
Of course, this doesn’t mean more uniquely shaped handbags aren’t a worthy purchase, but depending on your budget, perhaps not worth the same value long-term as a bag that is continually part of the trend cycle.
Look For Branding
Conspicuous branding is a fashion theme that ebbs in and out of popularity. One day everyone favors a splashy style emblazoned with Gucci's signature G print, the next, minimalism takes over thanks to brands like Acne Studios or Mansur Gavriel. As for right now, “logos do make for a better investment,” says Hersan, citing the popularity of labels like Louis Vuitton and Dior as examples.
But, choosing a logo bag as an investment is also contingent on your brand and design of choice. “Take Louis Vuitton for instance," says Gorra. "Many of their pieces featuring their signature monogram have remained iconic and in demand, especially in recent years with the resurging popularity of logo-splashed pieces. Other LV pieces may be more minimal in comparison to logo branding, and may not hold their just value as well, although they have higher price points.”
Seek Out One-Of-A-Kind Styles (Or Close To It)
Despite the enduring appeal of timeless classics, there's something to be said for more unique, one-off designs (think: Coperni’s Swipe Bag or Jacquemus’ Le Chiquito Mini Bag). In a recent study with Boston Consulting Group and Vestiaire Collective, it was determined that 71% of consumers shop second-hand as a more affordable alternative to the primary market. However, it’s not solely the potential discount that draws them in. “Of the buyers surveyed, 62% find the resale market attractive because they are looking for sold out or limited-edition items,” adds Hersan.
The Vestiaire co-founder says that the site is increasingly seeing consumers searching for limited-edition pieces that can't be found elsewhere. And with a global audience, it's also possible to track which parts of the world favor a more trend-forward investment over a potentially safer bet. "The Asian market tends to take more fashion risks and often searches for small and bold colored styles," Hersan says. "While the European consumer really gravitates towards classic investments."
Weigh Resale Potential
A great investment piece can simply be defined as a bag you wear for years. It’s the kind of item that maintains its integrity despite the fact that the price-per-wear has been lowered to pennies. But as Gorra points out, it can also mean that it’s a bag you can resell for nearly as much as (or perhaps more than) you originally paid for it.
“We really emphasize the importance of research when it comes to purchasing and investing in a handbag,” says Gorra. He references the Clair, or Comprehensive Luxury Appraisal Index for Resale, the technology available to sellers on Rebag. It can be helpful for prospective buyers, as well. “It determines the value of any handbag across a list of more than 50 brands and 10,000 bags, giving clients a clear idea of what a particular bag is actually costing them. In a scenario where a handbag is priced at $3,000 retail and Clair’s instant price is $1,400, that bag is actually only costing the client $1,600, validating that they are making a smart financial decision.”
Ultimately, how you choose to invest in a handbag is going to come down to your own preferences, but keeping these ideas in mind can help guide you toward the best use of your budget and most personally fulfilling purchase. Peruse some of the most popular investment bag brands, below.
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