While our taste in luxury bags may differ, there is one thing they all have in common — a hefty price tag. The cost, along with a conscious shift away from fast fashion, has seen many of us turning to buy designer bags secondhand.
Selling quality brands online is big business. According to Brooke Eichhorn, Head of Luxury at eBay Australia, a handbag is listed on-site every two minutes. That's a lot of bags to sift through!
Similar to the world of rare sneakers, a booming resale market inevitably comes with a rise in fakes. After racking up over $500 billion in revenue in 2016, sales of counterfeit goods now make up 3.3% of global trade.
So, how do you navigate a murky resale market without putting your own hard-earned money at risk? We chatted with Chelsea Williamson, a seasoned vintage shopper and fashion content creator, about her best tips for buying pre-loved luxury items.
Refinery29 Australia: What do you look for when sourcing a designer bag?
Williamson: Whenever I'm purchasing a designer bag, I am looking for something classic, timeless and of good quality. If I am investing in a high-ticket luxury item I want to ensure it is a piece I can add to my collection that will last for years to come.
I also like to check a seller's ratings and reviews thoroughly to see if they have sold previously and the experiences people had with the seller. This helps ensure that you are purchasing from a genuine source.
How do you track down rare vintage handbags?
I love the secondhand luxury community because everyone is on the hunt for their dream bag at a lower price. This means people help you in sourcing that special piece because they too appreciate the love and hard work it takes to add to your designer collection.
Tracking down a hard-to-find style can be a full-time job in itself! I find setting Google alerts for the bag I'm looking for super helpful and allows you to spot them before other shoppers.
How can you tell the difference between the real deal and a knockoff?
With the rise of TikTok, DHgate has become a very popular place to source designer dupes. While many of them are almost identical matches, I have seen a few purchases go very wrong!
Keep an eye out for wonky or misprinted logos — that's a tell-tale sign an item is a knockoff. If the bag doesn't come with an authenticity card or inside stamping/serial number (depending on the brand you are purchasing), that can also be a red flag. When you look closely, poor stitching can also be a counterfeit indicator — is slanted or uneven?
I find taking advantage of tools like eBay's Authenticity Guarantee invaluable, because it allows me to search for designer pieces with peace of mind, knowing an expert has verified the item.
What is the most you've ever spent on a secondhand bag?
Honestly, the most expensive bag in my current collection is the Louis Vuitton Mini Dauphine, which was a pricey $4,900. She was my first-ever luxury bag purchase and I worked and saved extremely hard to add her to my handbag collection. It was always my goal of mine to treat myself to one special bag once I achieved a major milestone in my career. The reward was well worth it!
How do you keep luxury bags in tip-top condition?
Honestly, due to the high-quality materials used to create designer bags, their resilience to wear and tear is quite incredible. But I always store them in the dust bags they came with for an extra layer of protection.
What advice would you give to people wanting to buy a secondhand designer piece?
I think you can get caught up in purchasing trend-driven pieces just because they are 'cheaper', but it would be my advice to just wait and keep hunting for "the one" you can't stop thinking about. Fashion trends come and go, and when making such a large investment you want to be sure you have a piece you could hand down to your children someday.
Click here to dive into eBay's range of luxury secondhand handbags, all with an Authenticity Guarantee.