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While the allure of finding the ideal “It Bag” haunts many fashion-minded men and women, such bags are not the building blocks of an enduring handbag collection. The It Bag is a fleeting phenomenon, on trend one month and passé the next. Wildly expensive at the time of purchase, the It Bag plummets to a fraction of its retail value in the blink of an eye. And soon enough, your trendy bag has already begun to look a little sad — the stitching slightly frayed, the lacquer and edge paint chipped, the leather conspicuously worn. Worst of all, it’s taking up space in your closet.
While not a traditional investment, the handbag’s strength on the secondary market has raised investment awareness among today’s savvy handbag shoppers. Collectors want pieces that will stand the test of time in quality, trend, and value. Who wants to worry that an exorbitant purchase today will become a valueless faux pas before year’s end — not to mention one that looks like a shell of its former self, having carried your daily necessities day after day?
Across all collecting categories, the secondary market is an indicator of the enduring value of your collectible. That’s as true for handbags as for any other luxury investment. Research the resale value of that coveted It Bag (or last season’s equivalent) before buying. If it is flooding the secondary market at a fraction of its original retail price, you can be sure that bag is not a viable investment.
The solution — and my expert advice — is to stick to the classics. The Hermes Kelly Bag — a nod to the brand’s equestrian heritage — has changed little since its introduction in the 1930s. A Sellier, or stiff-sided, Kelly from the 1980s can easily be mistaken for one purchased yesterday if cared for properly. Hermes bags are made by highly trained craftsmen using the finest materials and techniques: the skins are expertly chosen and treated; the saddle stitch will never unravel. Each bag is crafted to withstand the test of time. And should you desire a more contemporary piece, brands like Hermes and Chanel have produced colorful and modern interpretations of their classic bags.
The fleeting life span of the It Bag is not reflected in its high retail price. Hence, purchasing an iconic piece from a heritage brand like Hermes or Chanel —a vintage bag on the secondary market — is a wiser investment for both bank account and wardrobe. If you decide one day that your bag has served its purpose, a strong secondary market awaits your bag, where it’s sure to fetch a fair and attractive price. And if you never grow tired of it, there is no better heirloom for future generations.
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Main image: A 32cm Rosy Swift Leather Retourne Kelly Bag, Hermès, 2007, $8,500