All about investing in designer handbags, resale value, and which bags are good investments right now (as of January 2021).
Well, things are weird in the world, but people are still buying and selling designer handbags. When it comes to investing in a luxury handbag, it's important to find a style you love and that fits within your budget. Many handbag shoppers also consider resale value when purchasing items, even though making the decision to part ways with beloved bags is not easy.
Talking about finances is complicated, but I’m a firm believer in mindful spending and making smarter financial decisions. That’s why I want to talk about investing in designer handbags and justifying handbag purchases from a financial standpoint (not emotional purchases).
The luxury resale market opens up endless options and opportunities not only for shoppers but for sellers. In this article, I’ll cover questions about the initial investment (whether new or pre-owned), resale value, and which bags are good investments right now (as of January 2021).
Investing in Designer Handbags
First, the initial investment. While you’re considering whether or you want to buy the bag, consider the cost per wear. Cost per wear is the cost of the bag divided by the number of times you wear it.
For example, if you pay $2000 for a Louis Vuitton bag and carry it two times per week, that means you’ll wear the bag about 100 times per year. $2000 divided by 100 is $20 per wear. $20 per wear doesn't seem so bad. The more you wear it, the better investment it is. If the bag has a low cost-per-wear, invest. If the cost-per-wear is high, opt out.
When you’re having the “is it worth it?” discussion inside your head, be really honest with yourself about the cost-per-wear. Based on the cost-per-wear model, it’s best to purchase an item you can wear constantly and a bag that has a fairly low cost-per-wear. Cost-per-wear analysis skews in favor of timeless, well-made items. Consider if the piece is trendy or classic. Will you get sick of it after a year or do you anticipate wearing it for years to come? Can it be worn for different reasons or only on special occasions? How well does it wear? Will you be restricted by weather or season? Is it going to last forever?
Buy Now, Resell Later
You might also consider whether the item you’re purchasing could be resold. When we use the word “investment” for bags, it’s sort of intended in the way we use it for stocks or property (but with a lot more emotion).
When we talk about investing in luxury handbags, it’s purchasing with the intention of reselling on the secondhand market at a later date. If you buy a designer bag then decide you don’t love it--how much will you lose or recoup if you resell it later on the secondhand market? In uncertain economic times, the resale market helps provide good secondhand deals for shoppers and a secondary income for luxury resellers. Resale has increased in popularity with sustainability and longevity of products becoming more of a priority.
It’s important to educate yourself on which handbags will hold their value. Many designer handbags are extremely well made, stand the test of time, and are in high demand on the resale market even when they are 20 or 30 years old. Like luxury cars, handbags depreciate in value as soon as they leave the boutique, but there is a very healthy secondary market for designer bags. Which bags are most popular in the secondhand market and which bags have incredibly high resale value?
You'll notice that pre-owned luxury bag pricing varies dramatically. That's because of factors like date of production, condition, material, and the style's current popularity. According to Rebag’s 2020 Clair Resale Report, “Hermès, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton have not wavered from the upper echelons of brand value, with Hermès handbags maintaining, on average, 80% of their value, while Chanel and LV held 63%.”
Investment Bag Report (January 2021)
Keeping resale value in mind can be very important in case you want to sell your items in the future or launch a resale business. In some cases, sellers can get back about 60-70% of what they originally paid. While the value of many luxury handbags can fluctuate due to trends, If you’re looking to invest in handbags, this list features designer bags with the most growth in demand in the resale market as of January 2021.
Chanel Classic Flap Bag
The Chanel Flap Bag will always be a good investment for the brand’s consistently increasing value (both financially and intrinsically). The longer you hold on to it, the higher the value. Because of this, Classic Chanel Flaps can even be worth more than what they were originally purchased for several years ago. If you are able to get your hands on a Chanel Classic Caviar Mini Flap or vintage pieces like the Jumbo Hardware Flaps, sellers will be able to make a higher margin. Chanel bags in pristine condition with their original boxes, dust bags, and authenticity cards can help maintain value on the resale market.
Classic Quilted WOC Bag
The current price tag of a brand new Chanel Quilted WOC from a boutique costs $2575 in the US—if shoppers can find one. Chanel WOC’s in excellent condition can hold about 80% of their value on the resale market. For shoppers seeking a gently used version, a Chanel WOC is relatively easy to find for 20%-40% off retail value on the pre-owned market.
Whether it’s vintage gold costume jewelry or a 90s Chanel backpack, Chanel pieces from any decade hold high value on the resale market.
Louis Vuitton Speedy Bag
With Louis Vuitton’s consistent price increases, the Speedy’s value on the resale market follows. For under $1000, a certified pre-owned Louis Vuitton Speedy boasts comfortable canvas, luxurious leather trimming, and Louis Vuitton’s lasting appeal.
Louis Vuitton Multi-Pochette Accessories
Loved for its crossbody strap and customizable carrying options, the ultra-popular Multi-Pochette Accessories Bag can retain 90%-100% of its value on the resale market in excellent condition. The Multi-Pochette Accessories bag is a good purchase no matter the price.
Louis Vuitton Neverfull
The classic Louis Vuitton Neverfull tote bag retains up to 85% of its value on the resale market. If you’re looking to sell your Neverfull, it will likely sell quickly because of its high demand.
Vintage Louis Vuitton
Demand for vintage Louis Vuitton mini bags grew among Gen Z & millennials. If shoppers are into vintage, they can score a piece from the 90s or 2000s for under $1000 on the resale market.
Hermes Birkin Bag
The ‘Holy Grail’ handbag of them all. Most Hermes Birkins retain or increase in value, depending on leather, hardware, and demand. The highly sought-after black Birkin with gold hardware will yield the highest margin on the resale market (and you’ll definitely love owning a Birkin). This is a purse that can sit in your closet and will hold its price for years.
Hermes Kelly Bag
Like the Birkin, the Hermes Kelly bag also retains an average of 86% of its retail price no matter the size or color. The Hermes Kelly a classic piece that will continue to increase in value.
Dior Book Tote
Dior has seen significant growth in demand in the last several years. Praised for its sturdy exterior and spacious interior, the bag itself is made in more than thirty-seven hours and uses 1500 stitches to be completed. The Book Tote holds 80% of its value on the current market. As one of the most sought after items on the secondhand market, resellers can expect to make a high margin on the Dior Book Tote.
Saint Laurent Loulou Bag
The LouLou handbag is one of the most in demand items from Saint Laurent. While YSL doesn’t hold onto value as well as a Chanel bag, many shoppers fall in love with this bag anyway.
Gucci Soho Disco Bag
Praised for its camera bag shape, zip opening, and crossbody strap, the Gucci Soho crossbody bag is on every handbag lover’s “must-have” list. According to TheRealReal, the Gucci Soho Disco bag has an average resale value of 83%.
Coach Cassie Bag
The Coach Cassie is often referred to as the affordable version of the Louis Vuitton Pochette Metis for its versatility. The Coach Cassie tends to hold about 60%-70% of its value on the resale market.
That said if you really love a bag and you can afford it, buy it! Even if a Chanel bag will retain about 70% of its original price tag, but you would love carrying the Saint Laurent bag more, that’s worth considering too.