In recent years, the world of luxury handbags has gained considerable attention beyond their exquisite craftsmanship and ability to display status; these items have also emerged as a reliable investment opportunity. Luxury handbags have evolved into more than just beautiful accessories, and are now considered passion assets that hold their value or appreciate over time.
A passion asset is a tangible, collectible item with emotional appeal that can also serve as an investment vehicle. Handbags – particularly those crafted by renowned fashion brands – have become increasingly sought-after by collectors and investors alike, transforming them into wearable passion assets with the potential to yield significant returns. The market has appreciated 15% over the past year and is predicted to reach £80 billion in 2026, with most of the growth coming from makers such as Hermès and Chanel.
Investing in luxury handbags can be an enjoyable endeavour, but it is crucial to understand the factors that contribute to their investment potential. With the right knowledge, you can make informed decisions when selecting handbags to add to your collection or investment portfolio.
Brand reputation is arguably the most important factor in determining a handbag’s investment potential. Iconic luxury brands like Hermès, Chanel and Louis Vuitton have a long history of desirability, which translates to a higher demand and increased value. These brands often have limited production runs and exclusive designs, making their handbags highly coveted. They are also known for using high-quality materials like premium leather, exotic skins and durable hardware — all of which contribute to an item’s longevity, ensuring it remains in excellent condition even after years of use.
A critical second consideration is the design: a handbag that is timeless is more likely to retain its value or appreciate over time. When choosing a handbag for investment purposes, consider designs that have stood the test of time and are less influenced by fleeting fashion trends. Bags that have immediately identifiable monogramming or hardware, especially when relating to a luxury brand, are usually worth more.
When selecting a handbag for investment purposes, research the resale market and historical price trends to gauge its potential returns. Ultimately, a good investment handbag combines brand reputation, timeless design, and quality materials, all while offering a strong potential for resale value.
The Hermès Birkin is considered the Holy Grail of the bag world due to its exceptional materials, rarity and exclusivity. The purchasing process at Hermès stores is notoriously difficult, something that surely increases the second market appeal for buyers. Like all Hermès bags, Birkins are made from start to finish by a single artisan, who trained for more than 5 years to create it. It takes a minimum of 18 hours to finish a single Birkin bag.
Since the beginning, the Birkin bag has been tied to ideals of celebrity – the bag was first idealised in 1984 by British actress Jane Birkin and Jean-Louis Dumas, Executive Chairman of Hermès. It entered pop culture relatively quickly, having been mentioned in Sex and the City more than once. Many celebrities have vast collections of this bag, including Victoria Beckham (who is rumoured to have hundreds of them), Kate Moss and Chiara Ferragni.
The Birkin’s pop culture impact is undeniable, and their resale value varies greatly depending on the style or type of leather and hardware of that specific item. However, in most cases, these bags sell for several times their original retail price in-store.
Chanel is a fashion house that has immediate associations with sophistication, luxury and refinement. Their Classic Flap Bags are a trademark of the brand, and never date or age, having come to exemplify timeless elegance. These bags are instantly recognisable due to their implementation of Chanel’s signature quilted motif, interlocking CC hardware and chain strap. They have an intricate creation process, and come in many different colours and styles, offering great variety for the customer.
The brand usually hikes their prices twice a year, an attempt to increase brand exclusivity. The increasing figures from the official Chanel stores makes the second hand market an attractive one for buyers looking to achieve the brand’s signature aesthetic. In the past year, apart from increasing their prices, Chanel has also taken lessons from Hermès and complicated the purchasing process of the bags. Whereas you could previously walk into one of their boutiques and acquire a Flap Bag, customers are now only allowed to buy one a year.
These policies around protecting item rarity are promising for the resell value in the second market.
While it may not be as famous by name as its brand-mate, the Kelly is equally impactful in the world of luxury investment bags. It predates the Birkin, having first been designed in the 1930s, and is considered by many to be the classic Hermès bag. In fact, the most expensive handbag ever sold at auction happened in 2022, when Sotheby’s offered a Himalayan Kelly 25 for over £290,000. The bag comes in two styles and eight different sizes, offering great variety even before mentioning the assortment of hides and colours used by the brand.
The bag’s larger association with pop culture and fashion history came through Grace Kelly (later Princess of Monaco), who was a big fan of the design. She famously used the bag to conceal her pregnancy from photographers and leave Hollywood in 1956, after first having been introduced to the style in 1952. The bag was renamed in her honour in 1977, and has remained a coveted status symbol ever since.
They have one of the most recognisable aesthetics in the market, and a strong reputation for the exquisite quality of their bags. As such, it is not a surprise that Louis Vuitton bags hold their value extremely well. However, some designs appeal more to buyers, notably the Métis, Pochette and limited-edition Speedys in patterns such as cérise and multicolour – the latter thanks to the brand’s collaboration with Takashi Murakami. These models, according to Nicola Ghin, authentication manager and resident designer handbag expert at The Luxury Closet, are constantly in demand and sellers can expect to earn between 20 and 50% more than its original price. Resale platform Open For Vintage has revealed that sales of Louis Vuitton handbags made up a whopping 35% of its total sales in 2020.
As we have seen, celebrity endorsement can mean everything in terms of cementing the timelessness of a brand. Throughout 20th century fashion, few endorsements are more stellar than that of Diana, Princess of Wales. Therefore, it is no surprise that Dior’s Lady Dior bag (affectionately called Lady D by its fans due to its association with Diana) has remained popular throughout the last decades. Diana first received the bag as a gift from France’s former First Lady Bernadette Chirac while on a trip to Paris in 1995. The top-handle bag is quilted in the style of the cannage stitching pattern of Christian Dior’s antique Napoleon III chairs, with the logo spelt out in pendant charms. It instantly became the Princess’ favourite, so much so she wore it day and night.
The bag’s quality is undeniable; it is made from 144 parts at Dior’s ateliers in Florence, and the hardware alone is constructed from 43 metal parts – from charms to feet and eyelets. It has had many iterations, with different fabrics, hides and colours. While Dior handbags don’t tend to appreciate quite as much as those by Chanel, Hermès and Louis Vuitton, the iconic design and practicality of the Lady Dior makes it a worthwhile investment.
The style of the early 2000s has come back strongly in recent years, as evidenced by the many reissues Prada has done in past collections. The best example of this is the re-imagining of their iconic 2000-2005 Nylon bags, which were fashionable then as now. The brand has also catered to a more eco-conscious clientele by using their sustainable textile Re-Nylon, a regenerated-nylon yarn that can be recycled an indefinite number of times without affecting its quality and is made by recycling discarded plastic collected from landfill sites and oceans across the world. Since its reissue, the bag has been worn and coveted by celebrities, bloggers and fashion enthusiasts everywhere.
According to Vestiaire Collective, the Prada Nylon bag has seen a sales increase of 150% year-on-year. With the style being re-released by the brand in a variety of vibrant shades and finishes, you can easily find one that best expresses your personal style. That, alongside the durability of its materials, makes it a worthwhile investment.
This handbag is a reissue of the brand’s 1970s style, comes in three different sizes and in leather, suede or ostrich. It can be used as a messenger bag or on the shoulder, offering practicality to buyers. In order to modernise it, the Italian fashion house updated the bag with a softer construction and its signature G-shaped clasp.
Since its release in Spring 2022, the handbag has been sported by celebrities such as Olivia Wilde, Jodie Turner-Smith and Jennifer Lopez. The bag’s half-moon shape has been trending in recent years, with Kelly McSweeney, The RealReal’s Senior Merchandising Manager saying: “Looking at the second half of 2021 versus the same 2022 time period, we saw a 67% uptick in demand for the shape. We’re seeing strong demand for Gucci’s re-issued Attaché.”
Other vintage-inspired models by the brand, including the Horsebit and the Jackie, have also been trending on the primary and secondary markets. The platform Open For Vintage says this is especially true for the latter.
Few handbags hold an impact on millennial pop culture as much as Carrie Bradshaw’s beloved Fendi Baguette. Launched in 1997, the original style sold 100,000 units in its debut year alone. For nearly a quarter of a century, the Italian fashion house carried the Baguette, before taking a brief hiatus and reintroducing the design with Sarah Jessica Parker herself.
Fendi's strategy of releasing new versions of the design for each year of its reign, featuring limited-edition embroidered denim and patchwork satin variations, cemented the bag’s status as a collector’s item. Their distinct aspects and collaboration with other iconic designers make for a great example of a bag that is easily placed within fashion history and will grow in value with time. Its original price ranged from £780-£1200, and Baguettes today range between £2300-£2960. According to The RealReal, the popularity and demand show no signs of slowing down, with the search rate continuing to rise.
According to The RealReal, this is a standout bag that has made a swift and steady rise in resale value over the last five years. The Telfar Shopping Bag is almost always sold out, and is made of 100% vegan leather. Since its creation in 2014, it has been worn by celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Selena Gomez and Beyoncé. The bag is incredibly versatile, since it can be worn in formal and informal settings, and comes in a variety of sizes and colours.
Despite its celebrity clientele, it is relatively affordable when compared to most investment handbags, with its original retail price falling somewhere between £120-£200. However, in resale websites the brand can often be seen fetching well upwards of £250, demonstrating its potential for investment. This notoriously hard-to-find bag is a perfect example of a limited quantity, collectible piece that retains and even appreciates in value in the second hand market. It has an average value retention of 195%.
Although it is a more recent release, this bag is yet another example of vintage aesthetics coming back in recent years and making an impact on the secondary market. This classic-looking Saint Laurent bag is inspired by the 1962 French New Wave film Cléo from 5 to 7, which is famous for its representation of ‘60s Parisian fashion. The film’s influence can be seen in the design's clean lines, classic clasp and under-the-shoulder fit. It comes in several limited-edition variations, including python and calfskin, making it a true collectible and increasing its value as an investment.
The bag’s timeless design, alongside the well-known craftsmanship of the Saint Laurent brand means that it is likely to keep appreciating over time.
As a general rule you should try to go for styles that are more timeless and trend-free, so that the bag continues to hold its value over time. It has also been proven that bags from established fashion houses appreciate more. There are exceptions to these rules, however.
While classic designs hold a steady place in the buyers’ wishlists, limited-edition models often appreciate significantly more in the secondhand market. Notable examples include collaborations with artists, such as Louis Vuitton’s partnerships with Takashi Murakami, Jeff Koons and Yayoi Kusama. Despite their more uncommon aesthetic, the association these bags hold with iconic fashion houses as well as significant figures in the contemporary art world is enough to almost guarantee that their value will increase over the years.
You should also consider investing in handbags that are from newer, yet equally well-established designers – these tend to be more affordable and provide great potential for appreciation. One example are bags by the designer Jacquemus, who only launched his brand in 2009 yet has managed to amass a remarkable collection of achievements, including the Special Jury prize by fashion giant LVMH. His Le Chiquito bag has become a staple in the wardrobes of celebrities and fashionistas alike ever since its creation in 2019, and luxury resales platform The RealReal guarantees it is only growing in value. His bag Le Bisou has only just been launched in 2023, yet has already been declared a success by the fashion world. This would be a unique opportunity to invest in a first-edition bag that is likely to appreciate in time.
It is undeniable that the best performing brands for resale value on the secondhand market right now are Hermès, Chanel, Dior and Louis Vuitton. This is largely due to the brand’s reputation and quality materials, which impact the market. However, for many fashion brands, simply having a good reputation in the primary market is not sufficient to guarantee its success on the secondary one. According to Rebag’s 2022 Clair report, brands like Valentino, Chloé and Givenchy are some of the highest-risk investments you can make when purchasing bags as passion assets.
As we have seen, other bags that may not be worth investing in if you are wishing to see returns are those that are especially trendy, as they often become obsolete in terms of style. Even when choosing from well-respected brands, consumers should be careful when investing in styles with a large supply and low demand, such as the Louis Vuitton Alma, which only carries an average retention value of 67%. Other handbag styles that typically do not retain their value include the Chanel Tricolor Classic Double Flap bag, whose average retention value is only 38%, and the Prada Double Zip Lux Tote, which only yields 35% of its original value at resale.
Investing in luxury handbags can be both a fashionable and financially rewarding venture when approached with care and consideration. These luxurious handbags are not only a symbol of refinement and elegance, but also provide a unique opportunity for investors to combine their passion for fashion with the potential for financial gain. Taking good care of your bag is a must, in order to guarantee interest if you decide to sell it.
By focusing on essential factors such as brand reputation, timeless design, quality materials and resale value, you can make informed decisions when selecting handbags to add to your collection or investment portfolio. Iconic examples like the Chanel Classic Flap highlight the potential for appreciation and enduring popularity in the world of handbag investments.
We encourage you to take into account the suggestions provided in this article, but remember that doing your own research and staying informed about market trends, historical price data and resale potential is crucial for making well-informed purchasing decisions. With the right knowledge, you can build a collection of luxurious handbags that elevates your style and offers promising returns on your investment.
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