Our Christmas Collection is For Sale Online Now

a guide to vintage designer shopping online

Saturday, November 18, 2017

I love designer handbags. They are my weakness. But I’d also love a house in Ibiza one day, so I like to think I’m smart when it comes to buying designer. However it does come down to personal taste. If you prefer the new designer trendy handbags or if you prioritize the boutique experience, then this post is not for you. I get it, when my father bought me my Chanel in Paris for my 16th birthday, they offered us champagne and I remember thinking, wow this is how the rich people live. A secondhand bag isn’t for everyone. But I’m a woman who doesn’t mind a scratch or two for a fraction of the price, I am also shamefully sloppy with my bags. I brought my Louis Vuitton to the beach all summer for crying out loud. It’s November and there is still sand in it. I never feel drawn to designer trends. I prefer the classics and I’m all for an off-beat version of a designer bag from the 80s/90s. I’ve never spent more than 1000 euros on ANY of handbag and yes, that’s still a grand sum but a new Chanel is a whopping 5000 euros. I adore Chanel but there is no way I’d pay that much for something to carry my junk in.  I also am not, contrary to the forums, rich and entitled. If I were this post would be a feature on my 3-roomed walk in wardobe, complete with LV trunks, French windows and a corner dedicated to my Hermes collection. Nope, I’m just a hard-working woman with a modest amount of disposible income which I usually blow on handbags old ladies no longer want. So, you’d like an old designer handbag too, here’s my advice.

1. the time-consuming treasure hunt

Scoring good vintage deals online takes time. It requires patience and research. I’ve spent hours, usually when I should be asleep browsing and it rarely concludes with a purchase. I’d first suggest compiling a wish-list, perhaps 2-5 bags you covet most highly alongside with a maximum price you are willing to pay and then exclusively stick to searching for these. Searching more broadly will mean you’ll be overwhelmed with options. Also, it is terribly easy to get caught up in a bidding war and end up paying out for something you didn’t truly want. Just because a designer bag is a bargain doesn’t mean you should buy it. I’ve seen beautiful bags for shocking prices but I have to let them go because I know I’d never use them. A bargain is only a bargain if you truly want the piece, don’t get caught up in a low price-point. Don’t shy away from negotiating. I’ve actually bartered with sellers on etsy and vestaire collective down a few hundred euros before, especially if the item has been in my cart for months, which means they are probably more desperate to sell it. Designer vintage isn’t just a click and buy shopping experience, it’s a treasure hunt. So dig and then dig deeper.

2. how to ensure authenticity

This is a question I get asked a lot. With sites like Vestaire Collective, pieces are verified by in-house staff, so it’s guaranteed. However for sites like etsy and ebay, which I buy from far more frequently: it does get trickier. It’s a minefield, there are many liars and many replicas so do beware. I look for sellers who feature many, many photos of the item with close ups of the interior and all the logos, I study these photos. It is actually very easy to spot the fakes if you look closely enough and that information is always in the details. The interior of the bag, as well as interior logos and especially the zippers and hardware. I’ve also found this guide to be incredibly useful (click here). I will then read all their negative feedback to check if any buyers claim fraud. If they do, I won’t buy. I almost exclusively favour the Japanese professional sellers with thousands of feedback. Japan is world-renowned for their vintage designer re-sellers and I’ve never been dissapointed with the sellers I’ve bought from. They are honest, pay close attention to detail but also have grading systems within their product descriptions that indicate condition/wear and tear. Finally I will always opt for payment via paypal, as they always favour the consumer making it easy to claim a refund. I bought a Chanel belt earlier this year that never arrived, paypal refunded me without hesitation. It’s an added element of insurance, and no this isn’t sponsored by them, but hello? It should be.

3. forget shiny and new

This is important to take into consideration, typically the best bargains are the bags with slight wear. My monogrom dior bag was only 150 euros but the leather trim is scratched here and there. Now these little details don’t really bother me as I do beat up my handbags, and I actually like the aged patina that some of my bags have but it really is important to consider when it comes to the price but also how much wear you can tolerate. I’ve seen Chanel bags sell for 400 euros but they look filthy. I did take a risk with one of my Louis bags but it was like brand new after an hour with a sponge and some leather polish. Another one of my Louis had a broken strap, it was 300 euros, from the 70s – 15 euros at the leather repair shop and it’s better than new. Sometimes buying the really damaged ones is the best bargain and other times I wouldn’t advise it. Generally dappled leather is easier to clean and if it’s a dark colour, it’s even easier. A light leather Chanel or YSL will be a lot harder and in my opinion, not worth the risk. From personal experience, old Louis bags tend to go sticky in the interior, I have no idea why but it’s pretty gross; sellers will usually indicate stickiness in the product description so do look out for that. In fact, any reputable seller will highlight the bag’s flaws or damages in close-up photos, so be sure to take note of those and assess.

4. my favourite sellers

This is my most asked question, I’ve shared privately with many of you via instagram and you then shared your own vintage finds which I loved. So rather than write a list, I thought I’d give a brief summary with links. On etsy, my favourites are Sophia’s Shop and Lulu Fashion and Anna Dakus – I’ve purchased LV and YSL from them, they don’t add new stock very often but when they do it goes like gold. Obviously I have to mention Vestaire Collective, they are great ; I’ve bought a Chanel and another LV via the site. But my all time favourite? These two Japanese sellers on ebay, Brand JFA And Boom 2 Hanten. I realize there are many more but I keep returning to these two because I trust them. I bought my mini gucci, my dior, Chanel beach bag and a few other Chanels from them over the last few years. I adore them. They arrive within a week from Japan via courier. They are professionals with new stock almost daily and if you have the patience to trawl through, there are some serious bargains – and not just bags either ; earrings, sunglasses, I saw a pair of high-waisted Fendi monogram trousers a few months ago for 200 euros and I still regret not buying them. My only complaint with buying from Japan are the custom charges, which are unpredictably between 30 and 100 euros, I have no idea why the amount changes but it does and I don’t like it.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Find Out More