A Two Decade Long Adventure In Collecting Designer Handbags

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Designer Handbags by popular Monterey fashion blog, Haute Beauty Guide: image of a standing in the sand at the beach and wearing a pink and white gingham dress while holding a pink Christian Dior tote bag.

Designer handbags have been the one thing I collect for years now. It all started in September 2001 when I went on a trip to Vegas. Shortly before the trip, I saw an advertisement for the Dior Saddle bag in Vogue and then an article about it in another magazine. I ripped the page out and went all over town looking for the bag. I saved up for it and was determined to purchase the bag. I laugh now at the price of $150 for a Dior bag! Mind you I made $6.00 an hour so the price was relative I guess. It was a downward slope into the world of extreme collectors.

The next bag I went after was a Louis Vuitton Murakami bag and then a Hermes Birkin. Both of which I later sold and both of which I acquired on the second-hand market. Back in the day, before the world of Fashionphile or The Real Real us real purse collectors swapped and chatted on old-school chat boards. I shopped from Sarah at Fashionphile WAY before anyone knew about the designer second-hand market.

These days the second-hand handbag market has exploded. Often times bags are double what they sell for in stores. Making it seem kind of silly to even bother buying. I’ve seen this trend come and go. Just 10 years ago, Louis Vuitton bags were sold on the second-hand market for around half of the retail prices. Gucci for a while wasn’t even bothered with secondhand same with Fendi. I have a Fendi Baguette bag somewhere in the garage that I literally couldn’t give away 5 or even 10 years ago. It was out of favor. Now, I could get four times what I paid for it. Where Chanel and Hermes have always increased steadily. A bag I bought 20 years ago I recently sold for 9 times what I paid for it. My Birken I got 2.5 times what I paid for it and it was super beaten up.

Collecting Designer Handbags

black leather spanx // free people sweater // medium gucci marmont | Designer Handbags by popular Monterey fashion blog, Haute Beauty Guide: image of a woman sitting on a wooden bench and holding a cream leather Gucci handbag.

Tips for Getting Your Dream Bag Retail

  • These days you won’t be able to call up and order what you want. It was like that in the early 2000s also. So stalk their websites. A lot of designers do drops around 2 am pacific time. I’ve found many pieces by just being online in the early mornings.
  • Make friends with the sales associates. They will call me when a bag I’m looking for comes in or if something arrived they think I’ll like. I try to shop with the same person consistently. Most work on commission so they appreciate the repeat business and I appreciate the heads up. These days with text it is super easy. I’ll text when I’m headed to a city like San Francisco or Vegas or Los Angeles and let them know when I’ll be arriving and a dream list. That way they have a few weeks to find the bag and have it on hold for me. I even make sure my husband shops with the same people I do when he buys me gifts! And, I now refer friends to my SAs to help build my relationship with them.
  • Have a backup bag. I usually go with a list of bags I’m looking for. That way they can pop into the back and see if any are available. Sometimes I’ll say, I’m looking for a Deauville tote–black, pink, gray or cream. Have anything?
  • Above all never act like you are better than or deserve something more than anyone else. I’ve been in Hermes spending $$$ and looked over to see someone spending more than my house cost (with a remodel)! The sales associates have seen it all and in general you won’t impress them. You also won’t get far by acting like an ass. Be charming, nice and funny and watch as they bring out bag after bag that is SOLDOUT everywhere.
Gucci Marmont mini bag style by popular California fashion blogger, Haute Beauty Guide | Designer Handbags by popular Monterey fashion blog, Haute Beauty Guide: image of a woman standing outside on a sidewalk and holding a black Gucci Marmot handbag.

Tips for Getting Your Dream Bag Second Hand

  • Stalk the sites. Fashionphile drops throughout the day but not on weekends. The Real Real is random and so is ReBag. Pop on a few times a week and create a wishlist on all. Fashionphile will email you when a bag off your list comes into stock.
  • Buy from a trusted source. ONCE I bought off a sketch site. The bag broke shortly after and imagine my embarrasement when I took it to Louis Vuitton to be fixed only to find out it was a VERY nice FAKE. It fooled the manager and all the way up until it got to the craftsman and the screws to the clasp were the wrong shape! It took a crazy amount of work to get my money back on that one!
  • Shop around on the prices. I’ve seen the same bag on all the sites and the price varies wildly!
  • READ THE TINY PRINT! I bought a Prada bag I LOVED back in the day but when it first arrived man did it STINK!!! I couldn’t return it because it was in the description but I didn’t see it. Now I scour the listing to make sure I know everything about the bag. The zoom pictures are great to checkout damaged corners or other visible flaws. I ended up keeping that Prada bag for years and miss it dearly. It was such a workhorse of a bag.

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Do you collect designer handbags? Let me know in a comment below!