As part of my Designer Handbag Bible series, I am going to talk about why you should (almost) never buy a luxury designer bag from the retail store. In later posts, I will go more into detail about how to take care of your handbags and more specific steps you should take, including RESEARCHING before buying. Here we go:
Q: Why shouldn't I buy from the retail store? I have made the mistake of buying a designer handbag from the store.
I absolutely regret it now, because it honestly feels like I just threw away money. Seeing as I'm slowly becoming a collector of designer handbags, I had to find a way to make it a little more financially feasible for me to buy new handbags to add to my collection. The answer? Sell the ones I don't want anymore and use the money I make to buy new ones. This way, I'm keeping it in the family–I rarely spend more money than what I make on selling my old handbags, unless I'm really upgrading in which case I might spend a couple hundred dollars extra.
Handbags are like cars.
The second you drive them off the lot/waltz them out of the store, they lose value. Yes, nothing has changed about the handbag–it's still brand new with little to no ‘miles' on it, but that doesn't matter.
To me, designer handbags are investment pieces, but only if you buy them preowned.
The caveat here is that select designer pieces, such as some Chanel bags do retain their original retail value and can actually increase ALOT over time. HOWEVER, this takes a LONG time. Because Chanel purses get price hikes every year, if you bought a Chanel medium flap bag in 2005 for $1,500, you could actually sell that same bag for around $4,500 today (the bag's retail price is $5,000 without tax).
The same cannot be said for most bags, however, especially if you are looking for a quicker turn-around. I find that I go through phases of liking certain kinds of handbags (I'm quite fickle). I bought a Saint Laurent Cabas bag in nude a year ago, and just sold it a couple months ago after using it only a few times. The soft buttery leather felt like it was just waiting to get scratched, and I was terrified that something (even lipstick) would stain the nude color. So, I sold it for the same amount I bought it for and replaced it with a Chanel Mini Square flap bag in black caviar (see below).
If you buy the bag “second-hand,” you will most likely get anywhere from 80-100% back if you sell it later on.
This, of course, does depend on the condition of your bag. If you've treated it like crap, you can't expect a buyer to pay the same amount you originally did for a more run-down version of the same bag. “Second-hand,” by the way, often means ‘like new' or even ‘new with tags'. Of course, you always have the option of choosing to buy a designer bag that has some wear and tear for much less, but I personally find that if I am spending at least $1,000 on a bag, I am going to spend the extra couple hundred to get the like-new version.
Q: OK, so how do I safely buy a real designer handbag online?
There are a lot of sites and people out there that CLAIM to sell designer handbags. This means you always have to be cautious. General rule of thumb: if it seems too good to be true, it is. There are few websites, and few people, that can be trusted to sell authentic designer handbags.
Here are some sites that I have personally used to buy and sell designer items on:
I have bought and sold several things on Tradesy before. They have a money-back guarantee and a pretty good return policy as well. I have never been concerned about getting ripped off with them. They also regularly have amazing promotions that give you $200 off if you spend over $1,000 (perfect if you're buying a designer bag)!
Ebay is obviously known for their buyer protection, but things can still fall through the cracks. I have heard horror stories about both selling and buying super expensive items on Ebay, so I tend to avoid them for anything above $1,000. HOWEVER, there are some trusted sellers out there (I have purchased from FashionHulu before and it was an excellent transaction).
Be sure to read through the reviews–don't just look at the percentage of positive feedback. Also, if you do decide to buy from Ebay, my rule of thumb here is DO NOT buy from international sellers. Those bags are most likely fake–this is not to say that bags from other countries aren't, but I would argue that most fake bags on Ebay come from Asia.
These sites often have special vintage or preowned handbag sales and can definitely be trusted. Be careful to look at whether the item you want to buy is FINAL SALE or not–even though most things can be returned on these sites, the designer handbags most likely will not be returnable.
Poshmark has buyer protection AND free authentication of items that are over $500 through Posh Concierge.
Here are some more reputable sites that I haven't personally used (yet):
Q: What should I watch out for?NEVER complete a transaction with someone through Paypal to avoid paying commission (some sellers may ask you to do this). It is honestly just way too risky. If you DO decide to do this with someone you trust, then you should make sure that they INVOICE you. DO NOT pay through ‘Friends and Family' because then Paypal cannot protect you as a buyer.
ALWAYS check the seller's reviews (ESPECIALLY on EBAY). This can give you a lot of insight into whether they are reputable and their bags are real.
ALWAYS check the site's return policy and money-back guarantee (if they have any). You want to make sure that you are protected as buyer, and it's better to be safe than sorry.
ALWAYS get the bag you are interested in authenticated by a third party service BEFORE YOU BUY. It's super easy and usually only about $10. Just send in the link to the product listing, and you will have a professional opinion on the authenticity of the bag within a few business days. You can do a Google search for authentication sites–this is the one that I use personally: Authenticate First
I hope this has been a helpful resource for potential designer bag mommies out there!
Stay tuned for the next segment of my Designer Handbag Bible series, which will be about how to SELL safely and securely, getting the most bang for your buck.