Are you thinking of saying goodbye to your preowned designer handbags? What is it about our handbags that has us hanging onto them when we no longer use them?
Some people are happy to have one practical handbag they use every day, whilst others have a whole wardrobe full. From luxury branded and vintage must-haves, to affordable on-trend pieces, some they’ve never even used; but would never part with either.
Since opening our Cheshire boutique in Prestbury village I’ve been fascinated with the stories I hear about handbags; and why each of us feel the way we do about them, for sure it’s an emotional thing.
At Dress we’ve helped lots of ladies find new homes for their preowned designer handbags, from classic vintage Chanel to current season high street, whilst helping others find the bag of their dreams (AKA a preowned designer bag) at a fraction of its original price (always a bonus!).
From practical pieces to collector’s items, handbags are a thing of beauty and joy to behold (on one’s arm!). As much as the car one drives says a lot about a person, so does the handbag they choose to carry (in my humble opinion). And I don’t mean that from a price point of view, I’m talking pure style and functionality here.
Whatever you feel about your handbag, we can all gain some insight into what type of handbag person you are, and that may change depending on the mood, the day, the season, the occasion, the outfit, the hairstyle and especially…the life stage.
We see and hear it all the time in our boutique store in Cheshire, ladies sadly parting with their preowned designer handbags because of motherhood, or reluctantly accepting certain handbag styles can’t be purchased new right now as they don’t fit their life stage (because of motherhood..).. something is jumping out here ladies… it sounds like it’s the kids… or the bag! (only kidding!).
My own handbag collection isn’t as big as people probably think (I say collection…it’s really small compared to some ladies I know, who have a handbag collection to, er, die for!), but it is varied, and I love it. It consists of both new and preowned designer handbags.
For sure it has changed over the years, as I too am a mum and have faced all the same challenges, needs, available cash etc that have impacted on my handbag choice at that time of life.
My ‘collection’ contains very few pieces I am likely to ever part with, as I have shifted my opinions and carved out my style (as well as collecting handbags that are very special to me), meaning some of my handbags will never date and will probably increase in value over time too.
Over the years I’ve admired handbags well out of my price range and been envious of those who can afford to simply walk into a designer boutique and buy the latest season’s must-have-arm-candy without (what appears to be), a care in the world.
Whilst at the same time I have also found myself questioning why anyone would, or could, possibly spend the heady heights of hundreds or even thousands of pounds on a handbag, some preowned designer bags can command enormous amounts of money.
So, I guess my own journey and relationship with handbags has evolved, as I have become more educated on how a handbag can become an investment piece, and for sure it’s altered since I have found the joy of buying preowned designer bags, which has opened up affordable options once out of my reach.
Before we talk more about what’s in my personal handbag closet, let’s look at why so many of us choose to sell our preowned designer bag only to buy another new one, (often very similar in style and function).
Most ladies choose to sell their bags because they feel they have too many, have decided they don’t use them, or simply to help fund their next handbag purchase (the ‘guilt factor’).
Others choose to sell a handbag because it was bought for them by their ex (we see this a lot!), so it’s out with the boyfriend and out with the handbag it seems! And we see a lot of ladies selling their bag on the basis that it was just a mistake, I guess a retail therapy day that went too far, but seemed like a good idea at the time (we see a lot of that too!).
Whatever the reason, moving on what was once their pride and joy is easy in our boutique dress agency in Cheshire. We have found hundreds of new homes for preowned designer bags and paid out thousands of pounds to the ladies selling them. Everyone’s a winner when it comes to recycling your handbag, the seller gets something back and the buyer finds the preowned designer bag of their dreams for considerably less.
Most ladies who come into the shop to sell their handbag usually share with us why, or how, they acquired their bag in the first place, and why they feel the need to sell it now. Sometimes, we feel like ‘the handbag therapy clinic’! Literally helping that lady let go of something she once adored! I often find myself saying “Don’t feel the guilt! We’ve all been there!”.
Seeing a handbag unused, collecting dust in the back of a wardrobe is in our opinion almost a crime, handbags have needs you know! Their whole purpose in life is to be adorned and showcased on someone’s arm, carrying around what is most precious to them such as our purses, phones, lipstick, makeup, brushes, note-books, pens, receipts, maybe even our love letters (more on that later), or even spare nappies! (remember… I did mention life stage).
I should point out at this stage I am not suggesting our husbands, partners, or kids are not our most precious things in life… that said, say that out loud again to some ladies and you may get a different answer!
So, what’s in my handbag closet that I dearly love and will never part with?
Well, oddly I have a very old, battered, hobo style, leather shoulder handbag by Chloe that I simply can’t let go. It was the first designer handbag I purchased from Selfridges in Manchester. It’s actually a bit worn out (through ‘actual’ wear and tear, not wear and tear added by certain brand owners famous for selling what appears to be distressed, worn out items). I bought it over a decade ago in the days I wore a lot of biker jackets and boots and had short, cropped bleached blonde hair.
Even though my look is more groomed today, that bag still looks ace with what I currently wear, and a biker jacket has never gone out of fashion either, let’s face it.
More of an investment collection than a handbag collection, I intend to carry on collecting new and preowned designer handbags (it’s the same as investing in preowned good quality watches). Preowned designer handbags are big business and hold their value, with some worth more as preowned than when purchased new, as they are hard to acquire, go up in value by the brand owner every year, or are limited edition pieces.
I’m very lucky to have a small but growing collection of Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Hermès handbags including 2 classic Chanel 2.55 handbags, a small classic tweed flap over, plus a small WOC (Chanel wallet on a chain). I’ve 3 or 4 Louis Vuitton bags including an Alma and Speedy, plus I have a Hermès Birkin and Kelly bag too, but my day-to-day work horse tends to be my trusty Prada tote. I throw everything in it, and it looks chic with any outfit. I also have a couple of handbags by Bottega Veneta, a cute little Miu Miu, and a Salvatore Ferragamo in exotic skin too.
My favourite and most recent and treasured investment pieces are my Hermès, the holy grail of handbags and for sure a true investment for any collector. I’m currently on the lookout for a vintage Hermès Kelly bag to add to my collection. I love the story behind the brand and its exclusive pieces.
The Kelly Bag is named after Princess Grace Kelly, when, back in 1956 (when the bag was known as Sac à dépêches), she used the bag to hide her pregnancy tummy, so it was called the Kelly Bag ever since.
As for the Hermès Birkin, this was made for Jane Birkin by Chief Executive of Hermès, Jean-Louis Duman who met Jane on an Air France flight from Paris to London in the early 1980s. He made the bag because Jane claimed there wasn’t a handbag that fitted everything she needed, so he made one for her! The rest truly is handbag history!
Did you know that every Hermès handbag is handmade, hand stitched and crafted by a single atelier from the finest leathers and skins? Because Hermes produce a very limited number of bags each year, acquiring a Hermes Birkin, Kelly or Constance is something very special indeed; and the reason they command the price they do and hold their value too.
The honest answer is yes. Would I be seen with one now? No, not a chance. Why? Well, my reputation for selling genuine, authentic, designer handbags from Dress is at stake for a start.
Once you own the genuine article, you just can’t use or buy a fake. It’s just not right, doesn’t feel right, and for sure doesn’t look right.
I can’t quite explain it, but anyone reading this who owns a genuine Chanel, Louis Vuitton or Hermès will know. Not to mention that fakes are illegal and helping fuel and fund other illegal dealings (I’ll leave that one right here) – all my fakes went into the bin some years ago, that might seem a crime to some of you, but it is what it is.
That’s a question I get asked all the time, I’ve learned some interesting trade secrets along the way to help me be a good judge of genuine versus fake, plus I’ve done my homework, read and listened and worked closely with some leading authenticators too.
Buying new from the luxury brand owner has provided great insight into what to expect. Plus, I trust my gut, I am very careful whose bags I choose to sell. If I have any doubts, I simply won’t accept it. And that’s a tough call sometimes, but I’d rather retain my reputation than take a chance on accepting a fake. It makes far more sense to buy preowned designer handbags than a brand new fake bag.
This bit is just a bit of fun! Whatever kind of handbag person you are, what statements below reflect you?
The Chanel Timeless Classic is Karl Lagerfeld’s adaptation of Gabriel ‘Coco’ Chanel’s original 2.55 design, that she launched in February 1955 (hence it being called the 2.55). Karl created his version much later on in the 1980s and retained many of its original features. One fascinating feature is the zip pocket on the inside flap of the bag. The pocket is actually upside down! Coco Chanel did that on purpose, so one could hide one’s love letters (nice!).
That’s just one lovely little fact about the Chanel classic bag that never dates (we know many more!). Reissued year on year by the fashion house, these handbags increase in value by about £500 each time.
Every day is a school day in the world of handbags. I love, love, love the education and journey (as well as the bags!).
You’ll adore what’s behind our little pink door! And we can talk handbags all day long!