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Vintage designer bags are seriously better than new designer bags. Here are some things you need to know before buying a bag as unique as you.
If you’ve been considering buying a vintage designer bag for some time now, there are some important things you’ll want to know before you add a new piece to your collection.
Vintage designer bags are no exception, to the degree that I prefer buying vintage than brand new! Of course, buying a brand new designer bag is an experience in its own right, but why follow trends when you can have a bag that really speaks to your personality?
When buying vintage designer, or any vintage for that matter, educating yourself on product names, values, authenticity, and approximate dates is key and can require more time and effort than you would think! There is actually a lot of information out there, but it can take time to source all that information. One trick is that you can take a photo of the bag you are interested in and put it into Pinterest Image Search. It will scan the photo and pull up all similar looking bags. From here you can click around and compare prices, find names, and look at varying sizes/shapes of the bag you want.
When buying vintage, you’re purchasing a secondhand item. Even if the item appears flawless, keep in mind if it is used, there may be a reasonable amount of wear on the bag. That being said, if the item was vastly misrepresented or comes with an unreasonable amount of flaws, don’t be afraid to speak up. What I’m trying to say is don’t expect something fresh from the store - but, hey, if you get something like that it’s a bonus!
What I have found in my years of looking for vintage bags online is that authenticity is subjective. Basically, there technically is a right and wrong answer, but unless there is an original receipt there is no way to tell with 100% certainty if a bag is authentic. There are some “good” fakes out there, but educating yourself on what you should be looking for is empowering and can really help you avoid some bad purchase decisions. You can always take a bag into the corresponding store, but with vintage bags there can sometimes be varying labels, hardware, and numbers over the years. With a little research, you can typically find information on most designer labels and how to authenticate, but there are general things to look for across the board: neat stitching (not crooked, not messy looking, not overlapping), evenly spaced lettering, authentic monogramming, high quality hardware, leather that is soft and not synthetic feeling. Obviously you won’t be able to tell everything online, but look at the photos and request more if there aren’t enough. Message the seller for more information about the bag and ask if they are the original owners or not.
When looking at reselling sites like eBay or Poshmark, some sellers may not know all the information about a bag they are selling, unless they are a bag collector or enthusiast. They may have forgotten the model name of the bag since they bought it, are in a rush when listing it, or selling it for someone else! What I’m saying here is that searching the exact name, year, and model of the bag may not reveal hidden search results. If someone is selling a Balenciaga City Bag, but they don’t remember that name, they may list it under Balenciaga hobo bag. Using filters such as price, location, brand name, and color might take some more time to look through results, but when sellers don’t realize what they have, that means you can usually get a deal!
Go for what speaks to you or represents you and avoid following in the footsteps of others. I remember a few instances where there was a really trendy vintage designer bag that I wanted, and if I would have strictly followed trends I would have a bag that wasn’t timeless to me. Of course, following trends is not a bad thing at all! As a matter of fact, I like to predict which bags are going to be trending and base my purchasing decisions by weighing what is popular now, what will be forever timeless, and what fits my needs and personality.
There is a big caveat with this one. Yes, typically you get what you pay for. You’re not realistically going to find an authentic Chanel Classic Double Flap Bag for $10. Based upon your market research, an average price should start coming up for you. For authentic leather bags, higher demand bags, valuable brands, etc. prices will be higher. It doesn’t mean you can’t get a good value, but you’re not going to typically pay less than $500. If you can get ahead of the trend curve, you’re going to be in great shape. For example, the Gucci Jackie Bag was relatively affordable about 2 years back due to higher supply and lower demand so people were getting theirs for less than $300. Then, Gucci made a new collection with a nod to the classic Jackie Bag (Harry Styles even carried one), which made them have a resurgence of popularity. If you’re willing to get something that is less “in demand” at the time but give it time to become popular, you’re going to get a great value!
Some reselling sites don’t give this as an option, which is why I’m always raving about eBay and Poshmark. Look at it this way, a bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush. Meaning, sellers that have a cold hard offer on the table might be willing to take a slight decrease in price to have the cash in hand immediately. If they reject your offer, they take a risk in not knowing when someone else will come along and purchase, so it costs them time. That being said, please offer reasonably. If a bag is listed for $1500, they are most likely not going to take an offer of $100. Do your research and even if you offer on the low side, try to make an offer in the range of what they are asking. For higher priced items you have a little more room. You might be able to offer $1000 or $1200 for a bag that is priced at $1500 and at least you’ll be putting yourself in the ballgame where they may counter you because they know you are serious. All that being said, if someone is priced way above market and you don’t feel like you can offer in the range to negotiate, it’s probably not worth your time. I mean, you never know until you try, but odds are they won’t entertain anything less than half the list price.
Some people are adamant about buying bags that will hold their value. For example, Chanel is sometimes more of an investment than other designers, but the value of the bag will typically hold over the years. If you can see yourself wanting to sell bags in the future to make room for new ones, you may be interested in more timeless and classic styles. The nice part about vintage though is that you can get a style that might radically increase in value in the future because vintage styles are typically lower in quantity. For vintage bags, it’s sometimes a little bit of a game of what will be popular in the future versus right now, so keep that in mind.
When you buy secondhand designer, it’s always more risky than buying directly from the source. There are many “good” fakes out there and it’s getting harder and harder to tell the difference between what is authentic and what is not. That’s not to say that if someone is claiming they are selling an authentic bag and you receive a fake that you shouldn’t return it, but it’s just saying that as we talked about before, authenticating vintage designer is more an art than a science and that people can make mistakes. I usually try to have the attitude going in that, “Hey, I’m buying something vintage, I’ve done everything I can to ensure that this item is authentic, if for some reason it’s fake, that’s part of the risk I’ve taken.”