I own two fabulous designer handbags that once belonged to someone else.
When I wrote my first article on pre-owned smart fashion tips for INSPIRELLE, I was delighted by the response from women who were intrigued and wanted more insight on where to start buying secondhand fashion and authentic luxury bags.
Women of all generations are coming to grips with what’s important in their closets, like sustainability, timeless style, and investing in pieces like a quality handbag that will last for years.
I often teach women that buying luxury pre-owned is not about scoring a bargain but, rather a way to elevate your wardrobe with luxury fashion at attainable prices.
When I was in my dress-for-success 30s, buying a luxury handbag two or three times a year was the norm. I owned every label that resembled fashion week’s line-ups from Chanel, Dior, Fendi, Balenciaga, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, and Louis Vuitton to name just a few. I amassed a variety of sizes, colors, materials, and logos, all ready to coordinate with any outfit.
Just thinking about all the bags I once owned makes me break out into a sweat. I have some regrets about my purchasing choices. I would have chosen my bags more mindfully, with an eye like an art collector versus a fashion consumer.
How To Think Like a Handbag Collector
After selling off my handbag inventory over the years, I’m down to only two: a Louis Vuitton Noe in monogram canvas and a Louis Vuitton Monceau in Epi leather. These bags check all the boxes for me. Big enough to hold my laptop and use for travel, yet small and elegant enough to work into my Parisian-boss-lady looks or an evening out.
I purchased both bags pre-owned, spending less than €1000 for both – but saving thousands compared to if I had bought them new.
As I add to my “bag collection,” I’m thinking about how I would decide what bag I would like to buy next that will not only work for my current lifestyle but will also be a lasting financial investment.
I’m learning from the stylish Parisian women I’ve been studying – to start thinking like a collector.
You Never Need To Buy A New Bag Again
The pre-owned market has thousands of bags for sale, most of which are authentic and being guaranteed genuine by the platforms and boutiques that promote them. Technology companies like Entrupy are leading the way to authenticating bags on-demand with AI solutions enhanced by machine learning and computer vision techniques. There’s a handful of boutiques and platforms in Paris with experienced authenticators that use this technology to verify your pre-owned purchases.
What to look for in your next second-hand luxury handbag purchase?
Brand: When buying pre-owned, I found focusing on “The Big 6” will give you the best return on your purchases not only financially but emotionally and style-wise too. My top six are Chanel, Hermes, Dior, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Saint Laurent. There’s always room to add one or two more brands to the list, but these are the labels that stand the test of time and increase in value.
Age: The age of your bag will determine the resale price you pay. Comparing similar conditions, a 1997 Vintage Lady Dior could cost €1300 but a less than 5-year-old one will start around €2,700. Buy the newest luxury bag your budget can afford.
Size: Think about what you need to carry around – from your wallet to your cell phone size. But also think about how the size of the bag looks on your body. Does it lay flat against you or stick out because of the structure and shape? Will it get in the way of your everyday errands and activities?
Material/Color: Are you planning to use this bag every day? Are you disciplined enough to wipe it clean a few times a month? Does your bag collection work for all four seasons? Asking yourself these questions should help you determine the type of materials and colors for your bag.
Weight: I realize how important this is since I moved to Paris. We walk everywhere, which means we walk everywhere with our handbags. It wasn’t an issue when I lived in San Francisco. I carried my Chanel jumbo shopper from my apartment to the car. And from the car to the office, then in reverse. If you walk a lot, a heavy bag will cause back and shoulder pain regardless of how fit you are.
Start with the Classics
Trust me on this: if there’s one lesson I learned through my shopping habit and style journey, you end up going back to the classics in the end.
I’ll never talk about trends, although if you’re looking for the latest “it” bag, you can indeed find it on the secondhand market. The prices usually are close to retail. For example, the latest Dior Book Tote or Bottega Veneta Large Pouch can be found for 15% off retail, but a classic Louis Vuitton produced five years ago can be acquired for 45% off retail.
When you’re ready to move on from any trend, the resale value may not be as high. Betting on a trend bag to resell in the future is a long game that you have to be willing to wait out. I once owned the original Gucci Jackie, Dior Saddle Bag, Fendi Baguette, and Balenciaga City Bag, to name a few.
If you did your research and made some comparisons, sitting on the sidelines waiting for a “better deal” may never come along. As the pre-owned luxury market becomes more mainstream and more women understand the value of buying secondhand, prices are going up and inventory is moving faster than ever.
Once you have your bag – remember to take care of it!
I get a tiny tick when I see a luxury bag sitting on the floor, tossed in the back seat of the car with kids, and filled with water bottles and groceries because one refuses to pay for a ten-cent bag to carry home tonight’s dinner.
Specialists like Cordonnerie Atelier Beaumarchais in Paris or The Restory based in London are the next wave of businesses to emerge for after-care of luxury fashion like shoes, bags, and leather goods.
My Favorite Shops and Platforms for Pre-Owned Luxury Bags
Here is my fool-proof list of where to find, compare and buy your next luxury bag at pre-owned prices on Paris-based platforms and boutiques:
36 Boulevard Raspail, 75007 Paris
45, avenue Bosquet, 75007
6, place Moro-Giafferi, 75014
84, avenue Mozart, 75016
3 Rue Jean du Bellay, 75004 Paris
*Uses Etrupty Technology
Are you ready to turn your handbag purchases into a luxury collection?
My gift is helping women feel beautiful and confident in their fashion choices while saving them money and time. I do this with secondhand luxury. Seeing women transform from a having closet full of clothes yet “nothing to wear” to a state of ease and mindful purchasing on my shopping tours is the best gift I can ever ask for.
I teach women how to build a wardrobe that works for their current life and style. Ultimately, letting go of unused clothes and heading towards a better path emotionally and financially. The bonus, she shares her new clothes shopping practices with other women and passes her habits on to the next generation.