How To Shop For A Designer Handbag

How To Shop For A Designer Handbag

One of the questions we’re most frequently asked is, which designer bags are worth the investment? To steer you in the right direction, we asked two industry experts for their advice – from the brands to rely on to the design details to look out for…

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Avoid anything too ‘trendy’ 

While ‘it’ bags of the moment might be tempting, they’re often the ones most at risk of looking a little dated in a couple of years’ time. To get the best longevity out of your purchase, opt for styles that are more classic in style. “The handbag you buy should be as timeless as possible,” says Rachel Ingram, editor-in-chief at Threads Styling. “Don’t buy anything too on trend – a bag is not something you can afford to wear only a few times and get bored of in a few months.” 

Consider practicality

Unless you’re purchasing something as an investment, like a Hermes Birkin, you probably want to get the wear from it, so it’s worth considering practically and what works for your lifestyle. Do you need something big enough to fit a laptop? Or is a crossbody better suited to running errands? Rachel adds: “Promise yourself never to buy anything again that isn’t easy to wear – ladylike top-handle bags might look lovely, but my own life requires a hands-free bag so sadly, the impractical ones rarely get a good outing.”


Create a shortlist & look at the details 

Whether you narrow down a shortlist or have your heart set on one design, it’s worth understanding every detail of your potential investment piece. If you’re splashing serious cash, you need to be absolutely sure this bag is going to work hard for you – that might mean an adjustable strap, interior zip compartments, a pickpocket-safe fastening and hardwearing leather. “If you’re spending good money on a bag it should be something you absolutely adore, so make sure it looks and feels really special,” adds Rachel.


Try vintage or pre-loved

You don’t always need to buy a new bag to pick up some style points. In fact, buying vintage or pre-loved not only means getting your hands on a stylish bag at a reduced price, it also offers something a little more unique. “Many brands like Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton have reissued older designs, so getting your hands on an original is a great alternative,” says Rachel. Alice Hebrard Lemaire, head of vintage and bags at Vestiaire Collective, agrees: “Whenever a fashion house reissues a key style, like the Dior Saddle or more recently, the Gucci Jackie, it is often worthwhile going for vintage as you end up with the original style at a cheaper price.” If the idea of buying vintage feels risky, Alice recommends keeping these factors in mind: “There are three main considerations to have in mind before buying a vintage bag. The first is the condition – is the item in good enough nick given its price and rarity? Look at the description and photos thoroughly for any flaws declared by the seller. The next is price – do your research and compare the price of the bag with other sites and sellers. If it’s dramatically cheaper to everywhere else, then it might be a fake. Which brings me nicely onto the third factor – shopping from authenticated online destinations. The easiest way to avoid fakes is to shop on sites that offer authentication services, like Vestiaire Collective. That way, you can be sure you aren’t wasting money on counterfeit goods.”

"Look to influencer Filippa Hagg for inspiration on investment bags – from Chanel to Celine and Hermes, her collection is as classic as it gets.​"

Don’t be seduced by the price

Everyone loves the idea of a bargain, but it’s important not to get over excited by sales or seduced by a smaller version of the full-size bag you love. Instead, try to save that little bit extra to get exactly what you want. Likewise, spending thousands isn’t always necessary to have a beautifully made, timeless bag – brands like A.P.C., Elleme and Wandler all offer a variety of chic designs that come in under £1,000. 

If in doubt, opt for brands that hold their value

Some handbags really are an investment in the truest sense, either holding their value or in some cases, increasing in value if they’re looked after correctly. “If you are buying something as an investment, Hermès and Chanel are, without question, the brands to go for,” says Rachel. “Hermes, for example, release so few bags each year that the demand always outweighs availability, meaning their bags increase in value – the brand’s bi-colour Birkin style has risen in price by 20% each year since 2016.” Alice agrees: “At Vestiaire, there was huge demand in 2020 for the Louis Vuitton Pochette Accessoires, the Prada Nylon, The Celine Triomphe and of course the Birkin bag, which saw a 185% increase in sales compared to the previous year.”


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