Have you ever drooled over a handbag, only to see that it’s price was about the same as the national debt? Have you ever window shopped at Louis Vuitton, Chanel or Hermes? Yes, these are iconic bags, the Kelly, the Birkin, the Speedy and the 2.55. All have been around for many years and been carried by most women of fashion and coveted by many more. But, if you crave a bag from a high fashion line, is it smart to buy it new, buy it resale or buy a knockoff?
Buying a big ticket handbag new is beyond many of our incomes and can cost up to $25,000. Yup, you read that right. (Read about the White Crocodile Himalaya or that Shiny Black Porosus above!) So when do you chuck your accessories budget for 5 years and buy one? As a personal stylist, my answer is easy. You buy one when you crave it, study it, go back to the store to visit it so often that the security guards know your name. You save for years. And when you finally give in, blow your budget to kingdom come, and buy it, it gives you joy.
But for those of us who do not wish to spend $5000 on a single bag, there is resale. These bags are investment pieces which keep much of their value if they’re treated gently. So, from a seller’s point of view, you can recoup very close to the purchase price, even when the bag is 20 years old. As a buyer, you can troll Ebay, The RealReal and many other second chance sites to find good prices on pre-loved handbags. Again, but. Beware of the deals that look too good to be true because they probably are. To buy resale, you’d need to do your research and use a trustworthy site. Of course, you can sometimes find Gucci, Louis Vuitton and even Dolce and Gabbana in secondhand stores.
So many places to find that dream bag!
To determine if it’s original, there must be an authenticity card inside and ideally the bag should come in the original packing. If it doesn’t, don’t pay original prices. For those who recoil at paying original prices, there are KNOCKOFFS.
The term knockoff makes the bag sound like a cheap plastic copy. Not the case. While shysters used to sell “designer bags” out of the trunks of their cars, the knockoff can be a good or great copy and some have even fooled experts. Yes, there are some that pirate a designer’s look but change the monogram or the type of material. But this can be a fabulous way to find a bag in your price range. Lots of these knockoffs come from China and the details may be so perfect that no one but you need ever know that you spent $700 and not $7000.
A word about knockoffs versus counterfeit. A “knockoff” is a bag that attempts to copy most of the detail of the original but changes important ones like the logo, the color or the hardware. These bags are fake but not trying to fool you, since on closer inspection it’s obvious that they aren’t the real deal. A “counterfeit” bag does attempt to exactly replicate the original. “Counterfeit” means stealing-the makers pass a fake off as the real thing and pocket the profit; nothing is paid to the designer. Counterfeiting handbags is an enormous business but it is ILLEGAL. Here I am arguing for knockoffs and against counterfeits, or copies
While Louis Vuitton remains the most copied line, you will find Kate Spade, Michael Kors and Coach bags as well. Take a look at Ebay and Poshmark and check out the prices. Since I became a personal shopper I have found several of these faux designer handbags for clients, and they carry them them happily, secure in the knowledge that almost no one can tell the difference.
Real versus copy is a personal decision. Some only want to carry the real thing and others want to look as if they are. It’s wonderful that there are now bags available for either. Just be informed! You get what you pay for, in details like the color of the hardware, the stitching or the lining. And the next time you see a woman carrying one of the iconic bags, you can wonder, is it fine or faux? Just remember, “trend” is today but “style” is forever!
Extra Style Credit
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