Shopping for designer handbags can be a minefield if you’re after a classic investment piece that will see you through a lifetime of wardrobe crises, serve as a trusty travel companion and even become a valuable heirloom to be passed down after you’re gone. So where do you start when considering the whole designer bag-buying process and what kind of bag is really worth the investment?
by Irene Steele
It goes without saying that you must choose and buy a luxury designer bag you love and a style you feel truly aligns with your own. Other aspects to factor in – will the brand and bag hold it’s value? What colour should you choose, is the bag practical and which shape never goes out of style? There’s nothing worse than investing and spending your hard-earned cash on a one-season wonder that will eventually end up gathering dust at the back of your wardrobe. To acquire ‘It-bag’ status, a bag usually has to be characterised by a certain mix of elements – it must be immediately recognizable (in a subtle and never tacky way), it must be versatile but elegant, trend-free and not too easily accessible. In addition, it must have a modern, but also a classic and clean design.
Investing in what is known as the ‘holy trinity of luxury handbags’ – Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Hermés is a no-brainer when looking at the current resale value. Fashion insiders have also put designers like Chloé, Céline, Gucci and Loewe on the It-bag fashion map with styles that have become classics in their own right. So while trends come and go and although the cost can be extortionate, designer bags are investments and are seasonless - they can be worn year in and year out giving you an exceptional cost per wear potential.
With this in mind, lets look at the absolutely best handbags to buy and the classic pieces to focus on when investing in a new luxurious bag.
Probably the classic of the classics, no other bag has garnered so much traction in the past decade than the Chanel 2.55. Some even spend a lifetime pursuing the iconic bag, due to it’s unique and effortless design that stretches back to the 19th century. The 2.55 bag, created in 1955 - increases in price each year and never goes out of style. Interestingly, Chanel doesn’t take part in any designer outlet retailing so there is never an opportunity for a discounted version. If you want to invest in Chanel, you’ll have to go all in.
Chanel Classic Flap Bag
Chanel is so classic – it deserves two mentions when it comes to its timeless bags. Introduced in 1983 by Karl Lagerfeld, the Classic Flap bag is a true collector’s piece and has become one of the most popular bags of all time.
Known as the holy grail of bags, the Hermès Birkin – created in 1984 and originally designed and named after actress Jane Birkin – before ascending to cult status – has an ever increasing plus hefty price tag and waiting list. It comes in four different sizes with an array of different leathers and colours. To add to the exclusivity of this iconic bag is the fact that it – along with the equally as iconic Hermès ‘Kelly’ bag - cannot be sold over the counter and getting your hands on one can be quite tricky. It has to be ordered and there is a very long waiting list. Hermès limits the number of Birkins a person can buy per year, resulting in pent-up demand, which creates a robust resale market adding to the fact that the bag increases by thousands each year.
Louis Vuitton Neverfull
Never underestimate the power of the classic Louis Vuitton tote bag. It’s one of the designer brands all-time most successful bags and comes in endless material options as well a limited editions and artist collaborations. When it comes to investment bags, this one is certainly practical, instantly identifiable and will never date.
Christian Dior’s Lady Dior Bag
Created in 1994, with the sole purpose of becoming a classic – the Lady Dior bag was instantly put on the style and timeless radar thanks to Princess Diana who carried it for years. According to Dior, the Lady Dior outperforms both the new Book Tote and the Saddle Bag in the resale market.
Fendi Baguette Bag
Often cited as the first ‘It-bag’, there are few accessories as iconic as the humble Fendi baguette. Known for its craftsmanship, Fendi is a brand to invest in. It’s not going anywhere and has had quite the popular resurgence in the past couple of years from the Gen Z set who seem to love everything Y2K. The famous baguette style bag was designed in 1997 and remains just as popular 25 years later. Vintage baguettes in particular seem to be holding more value than brand new ones.
Gucci GG Marmont Matelassé Bag
Gucci handbags have seen an increased demand over the past couple of years with a rise in sales and the classic GG Marmont is one of the most sought-after styles. With it’s quilted design and classic GG hardware; the bag is easily recognized as a timeless classic
There are many more iconic bags, which I could mention here, but this selection has the edge when it comes to cult status and longevity. Designer bags are definitely a luxury but when it comes to investment and standing the test of time – cost per wear and sustainability is a hugely advantageous aspect.
In the words of Coco Chanel herself – “the best things in life are free. The second-best things are very, very expensive”.