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Eyes are the windows to the soul, or last night’s cocktail menu, but handbags are the crack in your wardrobe door. A woman’s handbag tells you more about her sense of style (logo or no logo), practicality (zip or flap) and spending habits than the latest Burberry trench coat or Gucci loafers.
While the right handbag can be an investment in your image, the correct purchase is also a financially savvy move with certain brands having greater resale value. Even if you have no intention of making your handbag a hand-me-down, a style that retains its resale value will hold its cool currency on your shoulder.
“When it comes to handbags, brands count,” says Vestiaire co-founder Sebastian Fabre. “Hermès, Chanel and Louis Vuitton are some of our most searched labels.” Here are the handbags that hold their value and your car keys.
There are few surprises that the Hermès Birkin sits at the top of the handbag tree, where it has happily hung since 1985. Back in 1983 English-French actress and muse Jane Birkin sat next to Hermes chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas on a plane when her bag fell, spilling its contents. Dumas was inspired to create a bag for women who travel with their lives in their bags. The Birkin takes an Hermès artisan 48 hours to make, with the finished product receiving their stamp at the end of the process. If the bag is repaired in the future it goes directly to the artisan who made it. This time-consuming process means that waiting lists for the Birkin Bag are legendary, despite its price tag with basic models reportedly starting at around $14,000 and customised versions reaching beyond $200,000. Demand means that the Birkin can resell for around 130 per cent of its purchased price. Consider it the gift that keeps on giving.
Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel had a thing for numbers, with five serving her particularly well in the world of perfume. The 2.55 handbag has similar enduring success, named for the time when it was introduced, February 1955. The handbag’s popularity was overshadowed by the similar Classic Flap style and production was halted until 2005 when it returned with a vengeance. The two styles are easily confused but the locks set them apart, with the Classic Flap featuring the interlocking C logo favoured by Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld. The 2.55 has a simpler Mademoiselle style lock designed by Chanel herself. According to Vestiaire, a recent purchase can recoup up to 94 per cent of its purchase price while older versions can reach 64 per cent.
With its Neverfull handbag, starting at $1,720 in canvas – prices rising as sizes increase and leather is introduced – Louis Vuitton offers access to the world of luxury. It’s one of the most in-demand handbags for resale, with sellers expected to make around 80 per cent of their investment back, dependent on the quality. If you are buying a secondhand bag, Vestiaire does its own authentication steps but you should be able to sniff out some fakes on your own. Pay close attention to the lining with Louis Vuitton using different fabrics for different collections. Monogram canvas bags are generally lined in brown cotton and Damier Ebiene Canvas bags are historically lined in red microfiber.
The bag coveted by fashion editors this season comes from JW Anderson, with its distinctive septum-like detailing. Since the style surfaced in 2016 Vestiaire has reportedly seen a 300 per cent rise in searches for JW Anderson. Consider this a trend tip-off.
Damien Woolnough is one of Australia’s leading fashion critics. Now founder and editor-in-chief of Marry The Man, Woolnough has written for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, In Style, GQ, Elle and Marie Claire.
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