Chanel will never not be desirable. Lovers of the typically Parisien fashion house have such an appreciation for the craftmanship, design and attention to detail that goes into making every piece so special. There is such a magical feel to the experience that is browsing the Chanel store with the perfect lambskin leather smiling at you, and the twinkling jewels winking at you.
But what about the feeling of holding a Vintage Chanel bag, with its lustrous gold plated chain and wondering about the life it had before - where it has been and the things it's seen.
Vintage Chanel: the price is nice
With the recent price increase, which saw rises of up to 15% over some product categories, Chanel customers worldwide have been left feeling like their love for the legacy Coco Gabrielle built is far out of reach. Chanel's increasingly tight-rein on bag allocation, smaller production runs and quotas, has resulted in a thriving resale market where the best pieces are purchased brand new and resold at a profit due to scarcity. As a result, many chic customers have cast their quilted gaze to the vintage and pre-loved market.
Vintage and pre-loved offer Chanel lovers a way to get hold of what they want, without breaking the bank for it. Officially vintage is classed as anything over 20 years of age, but any slightly older bags from Chanel, circa 2008 have a vast difference in quality, customers report.
Vintage lovers have reported finding gorgeous gems at nearly 40% less than the retail prices that Chanel are currently demanding. Some items even in pristine, store-fresh condition.
Quality: Is Older Better?
Buying vintage can not only guarantee a better price over the modern bags, but also better quality. Due to pressure in meeting demand, the quality of modern bags is not always consistent. The forums are full of reports of uneven stitching, indented lambskin and sticky handles. Then there was the Spring Summer 2022 Runway show where the media went wild at the dodgy stitching on Chanel's newest heart shaped bag.
Add to that the eye-watering prices that are now being demanded for a classic flap, it is little wonder that so many are now opting to shop around on the resale market.
Many vintage lovers have detailed the visible difference in the lambskin leather that is found on the vintage bags as being more durable and even better in appearance to the modern lambskin.
The vintage Chanel bags also had 24ct gold plating on the hardware of the bag, which is why prior to 2008 there was a small plaque on the front clasp indicating there was real gold used on the bag. Today, it is not real gold plating on the bag chains – which does beg the question of why such a steep price increase?
A sustainable way to shop
Buying vintage of course has the benefit of being a sustainable way to shop luxury. The fashion industry is one of the most wasteful in terms of landfill and disposing of old season items, so by buying vintage or pre-loved, you are lengthening the lifetime of an item instead of purchasing a new one.
Unicorn Pieces: Rare, never to be found again
Buying vintage can also find you a totally unique design that you will not see walking down the street. For example the La Pausa Lifesaver bag, the Hula-Hoop bag which made its debut in 2012 under Lagerfeld’s reign, or lastly the reissue 2.55 Mini Hanger bag which features a mirror making it the perfect on-the-go bag.
The demand for small leather accessories has seen a huge increase, with the likes of the Jacquemus mini chiquito bag taking the bag community by storm. Chanel have also seen a reduction in the size of their leather offerings, but along with that came a hefty price increase. This increase has seen many Chanel shoppers get creative with what they already have. Australian YouTuber Mel explains how she refused to pay $3000+ for what essentially was a cardholder on a chain, and so got creative to design her own small leather good with the use of a card insert with chain attachment.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiFzr6eM8qk (see 18.30)
Not only has the increase in price seen a flock to the resale market, but also the difficulty in getting what you want at the Chanel boutique. The price increase has made it more difficult, but also seem to have adapted a philosophy in making bags harder to get – a similar strategy to Hermes. Making the bags harder to get through the boutique only gives customers more motivation to get them, and in turn prices become more demanding.
The increase in price does come down to the demand. The vintage pieces were created at a time when luxury was not accessible to most of the population, and so were produced in far smaller quantities. Now the demand is so high that the production process has had to be streamlined. The vintage production process was far more artisanal, with higher quality materials compared with those being used today.
Buying vintage or pre-loved Chanel can be risky – Sellier advise that you use a reputable reseller or consignment, who has good feedback, an authentication service and offers returns if you are not completely satisfied. Unfortunately, there are many replica bags in circulation and the quality of them is quite frankly scary, so we urge you to do your research and never act on impulse. If something does not sit right with you – walk away.