In The Case Of Chanel, "Investment" Actually Means Investment

Designed by Sydney Hass.
Usually, when fashion folks describe high-end designer items like Chanel bags as an "investment piece," they mean it's one that's sure to get a lot of wear over time. But, with prices of Chanel bags forever on the rise (sometimes quite steeply), some fashion ladies actually treat their Chanel as an investment in the literal sense: as in, one that can actually make you money over time. Speaking to Bloomberg a few months back, Lucky EIC Eva Chen said of her Chanel bag collection:
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"I hope it's an investment, because my whole closet is full of them. That is my sole portfolio right now."
It may not be the kind of portfolio a financial planner's likely to recommend, but is there any truth to the idea that you can make money by buying high-end designer goods? We spoke with Christina Samoylov, founder of the luxury authentication expert at luxury e-commerce consignment boutique Designer Vault to find out.
Is a Chanel bag truly a good investment?
"I do believe that Chanel is a great investment. Whether you're purchasing pre-owned or new, if you’re investing in a traditional classic such as the Chanel Jumbo Flap bag you really cannot go wrong."
What's the typical resale value of a purse?
"I was able to score a Chanel jumbo flap resale for $3,000 about two years ago; that same bag today costs $5,500. The same bag is currently reselling for $4,000 to $5,000, depending on condition. So, in essence, I could sell my bag and still make about $1,000 to $2,000, after I used it. I also have a client who purchased her Chanel medium flap in 1990 for $1,150 and now has an approximate resale value of $4,000 to $4,400, which is three times her original investment. Our office jokes that investing in Chanel is like playing the safest stock that the IRS doesn’t track!"
Designed by Sydney Hass.
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Of the different types of Chanel bags, which styles have the best resale value?
"The classics are always safe. If you have a great eye, you can spot the pieces on the runway that are sure to be sellouts, such as the Chanel milk carton bag currently retailing for $4,800 in stores while [reselling on] eBay and sites such as 1stdibs.com for prices ranging from $9,000 to $12,000.
So, how can people maximize the resale value of their bags?
"If you’re looking to buy a bag with the intention of reselling, bright colors can never lead you astray as well as very unique and rare bags."
How hot is the collector's market for rare Chanel bags?
"I constantly have my eyes out for rare pieces. If I spot something rare, I just buy it because I know it will be a hit. I recently purchased a Chanel Yo Yo Bag from the 2012 collection that could not be found anywhere — less than 24 hours after receiving the bag, it was sold to a client in the Hamptons."
Designed by Sydney Hass.
Do newer Chanel styles such as the Boy bags have a lower resale value than classics like the 2.55 flap bags?
"Yes, Boy bags do have a lower resale value. [Right now,] traditional Boy bags tend to sell for 75% to 100% of their retail value. Boy bags are still new and pretty easy to find therefore the resale market demand cannot ask over retail prices. They're also making Boy bags in so many shapes, colors and sizes; Chanel does not plan on retiring this style anytime soon. Whereas if you try walking into Chanel and buying a jumbo flap bag off the shelf, it’s impossible. Hence, resale prices spike and the one that you did happen to get your hands on is now worth retail because it’s no longer available in stores."
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What about buying vintage — do Chanel bags from certain decades fetch higher resale prices?
"Yes. If you score yourself a bag from the 1920s to 1930s it will cost you a mint, as these bags are extremely hard to come by and lie in the hands of serious collectors. One of these bags can range anywhere from $10,000 and up. Through the early '40s to late '40s, Chanel produced very little product due to World War II's devastating [effect] in France. During that time, there were some Chanel bags that were produced in the United States. However, the use of the name was later contested in court, as it was not authorized by Chanel. After WWII, Chanel worked until her death until 1971, at the age of 88. These bags from the 1950s to the 1970s are also very rare and worth anywhere from $5,000 and up."
Designed by Sydney Hass.
Besides Chanel, what other bag brands have great resale value?
"Hermès has the best resale value outside of Chanel. If you look at bags that don’t easily become available such as the Hermès Evelyne Bag, Constance Bag, or the Birkin bag, those tend to resale for about 80 to 125% of their retail value."
When purchasing a secondhand designer bag, how can customers make sure they're getting the real thing?
"Always, always have the bag authenticated prior to purchase. There are many great third-party authentication services out there that can assist for a nominal fee. Always verify the item received is the item you purchased. Lastly, always buy from trusted sellers."
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