Why do some bags hold value whilst others don't? Which bag should I buy for investment purposes? Which brands are the best to make profit on?
These are all valid questions, especially as the handbag business is so lucrative. But what factor actually go into deciding wether you should buy Fendi, Prada, Dior or Chanel?
Can you get hold of it easily? If the answer is yes, it will not hold its value. Why would it when anyone can walk into store and purchase it? The exclusivity of a brand and how desirable the piece is can create a premium when put on the resale market. Attainability is the biggest driver for price demands, and this can be seen perfectly with the resale of Hermès Birkin's and Kelly's. How is it that purchasing a Birkin 25 in store can instantly give you a boost on your investment if you choose to sell (without wearing it). The answer is, because they are so difficult to get hold of in store.
Unfortunately, most will never see a return in a handbag purchased from a high-street store. Designer bags are superior when it comes to materials used, craftsmanship, and the overall look. This is why they take so much longer to make - often by hand. The craft of making a designer handbag is remarkable, impressive and a highly regarded skill to master. At Hermès, the creators undergo a years training on how to make a Kelly bag, followed by training from a master craftsman to continue developing their skills before they can even create their own Hermès bag. Each worker makes the bag from start to finish, with no two workers crafting the same bag. The biggest driver of the Hermès prices are the materials uses, for example the leathers are all byproducts sourced mostly in Europe from Italy, France, Germany and Spain. The high expectation and standard of the leathers mean it can be challenging to find high quantities of appropriate leather needed, and so this drives the price given the limited availability. Some of the crafted handbags do not even make it into stores, Hermès work with a strict policy - if a bag is not absolutely perfect it will get rejected.
Image courtesy Global Blue
It's not just Hermès who pay attention to detail, the Loewe puzzle bag has an incredible 524 steps to complete. This level of craftsmanship, expertise and knowledge that goes into the creation of a designer handbag is unrivalled.
Image courtesy WhoWhatWear UK
Given Hermès's tricky Birkin and Kelly purchase process, many find themselves in awe of a brand that does not want to sell its products freely. The mystery that Hermès transpire is what gives it this lustrous allure. Chanel have taken on a similar approach as of recent, placing quotas on some of their most iconic designs, meaning such items are becoming harder to get hold of.
Classic pieces will never go out of style, or be undesirable. If they stand the test of time then the value surges. Take the Chanel classic flap, in 1955 you could purchase the medium size for $220/£160 (imagine!), where as today you will be paying around £5890 for the same bag. If you are looking for an investment, look no further - get yourself to the Chanel store before their prices go up (again).
Nothing drives up a price like rarity. Limited edition pieces are a great purchase, wether it be a limited colour way, a special design or brand collaboration (Supreme X Louis Vuitton comes to mind). The rarer the item, the higher the price can be.
So What Should I Buy?
I can almost hear the bag community shouting through my screen, the answer - anything Chanel, and anything Hermès starting with a 'B' or a 'K'. Why? Desire.
Gabrielle Chanel took the ladies of the 1950's into modern day masculinity, with her design aesthetic being boyish and practical, yet with an overwhelming sense of elegance and grace. The Chanel 2.55 flap embodies this practically - it is easily one of the most iconic and copied handbags ever made. Created by the legend herself in February of 1955, it is instantly recognisable with its rectangular shape, perfect stitching and bar clasp. This bag has the potential to make any outfit instantly classy and fabulous.
Hermès have placed themselves strategically in the luxury market, famous for their groundbreaking prices and notoriously vague and baffling purchase process. Is it for these very reasons that their handbags are a better performing investment than any stock? In 1950, to purchase a Birkin would set you back $900/£658, which was an eye watering amount of money during the time. Those of you who have been through the Hermès process will know that today a Birkin could set you back as little as £7800 depending on size, hardware, colour and leather. To be offered one in the first place is quite a mission, and this difficulty to even get hold of one is what leads Hermès to be the best performer on the resale market. Resellers can demand anything from 50% to 200% more than store value for a Birkin or Kelly, and this is due to the everlasting lust of an Hermès bag.
The Allure of Canvas
Some Louis Vuitton pieces can be a worthwhile investment, but not all. You are unlikely to see a return on your Neverfull MM in monogram, but you might see a return on your Nano Speedy, Petite Boîte Chapeau, or even the Pochette Metis. Louis Vuitton are famous for their media breaking collaborations which have been with the likes of Off White, Fornasetti and Grace Coddington. These pieces are incredibly limited and so lead to immense resale profits for those lucky enough to get their hands on them.
Whilst handbags can be a very worthwhile investment, they should be worn and loved as keeping them tucked up in their original boxes to never see the light of day seems heartbreaking. Hours and hours of crafting should be showcased to the world. If you are looking to get hold of your dream Birkin or limited edition Chanel, keep an eye out on our stories as we often get incredibly limited pieces in that will sell out in minutes - fastest fingers first!