how to buy a vintage designer bag

In the past few months I have been looking into purchasing a new, smaller bag and trying to find something classic and somewhat affordable. My favourite cross body bags (Chanel boy bag and Celine Nano) were both several thousand dollars and therefore out of reach. At first I was set on getting something brand new but wasn’t too impressed with the selection here in my price range. Since the Canadian dollar sucks right now, ordering anything from the states wasn’t a good option either.

 I wasn’t actually looking at Chanel (because I thought for sure it was out of my price range) but I happened to see a vintage one online and realized there were some out there which were relatively reasonable. I actually came across quite a few vintage pieces that were $800-$1,000, but most were from American sellers or ebay where I was hesitant to trust their authenticity. 

Then I can across Onceagain Resale right here in Vancouver. They have a bunch of items listed on a website called “ShopHers” so I could check out inventory from home and then go buy in person. Also means I skipped out on the exchange rate and duty! 

When I saw this gorgeous structured bag in bordeaux under my budget, I knew it would probably be mine. That being said, there was a lot of selection out there of varying quality, reliability and price. So if you’re thinking about making a similar purchase I’ve put together a few tips from along the way to finding my vintage dream bag. 

Tips for buying Designer Vintage:

1) If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Designer bags usually retain quite a bit of their value through time unless they are very damaged. Regardless of dust bags and authenticity cards, too good of a bargain can be a sign it’s a fake. 

2) Check around for pricing! When I was shopping around I googled a description of each vintage bag I liked to see if anything similar was out there and at what price. Some websites show past sales too just to get an idea of what a bag is worth. I saw more than one seller claiming bags were worth X amount but my searches proved otherwise. Depending on how you are doing the purchasing, it could be worth a try asking a seller to discount something if it’s available for less elsewhere. 

3) If possible, scout choices online and buy in person. It’s cheaper (for Canadians!) and there’s less room for disappointment. For instance, the bag I ended up with actually needs a strap repair sometime soon – this was not written anywhere on the online description. Because I examined the bag in person I was able to talk the price down a bit where as if I had bought sight unseen I would have been a disgruntled customer. 

If that’s not an option, there are online sources (like ShopHers or Lovethatbag) that garuntee the authenticity of their products for your piece of mind. If you go the eBay route, make sure you read the sellers reviews and refer back to tip #1. 

If you buy from the U.S. (where so much second hand vintage seems to be) you will have to pay taxes and duty when the bag arrives. It’s based on how much you paid for an item, so for an expensive designer piece it could get pricey. 

4) Don’t be too impulsive! Before I bought this bag, there were about three other contenders. When I found the first one I wanted to jump on it right away so no one else would buy it but I made myself wait 24 hours. In that time I found the same bag in better condition for less on eBay. I also had time to calculate taxes, duty and shipping to see neither would have been as good of a deal as they seemed initially. 

5) Always be skeptical about items that don’t have a ton of photos, or that describe damage to the bag but don’t actually show it in detail. You can also ask for more photos, or more info about wear and tear. 

6) Measure to avoid disappointment. I even went so far as to draw out how big the bag would be on paper. For bigger purchases this is the best way to be absolutely sure you’re getting the bag you want if you can’t try it out. This includes the strap length as well as the dimensions of the bag. 

Has anyone else bought a vintage designer find? 

Dress: Value Village, similar from H&M, Shoes: Ecco, Bag: vintage Chanel via Once Again Resale

8 responses to “how to buy a vintage designer bag”

  1. Wow – the bag is beautiful (along with the outfit and your hair). This is the best how-to-buy-vintage post I’ve read in a long time. I just scored a 30-yr-old vintage LV bucket bag on Fashionphile. With duty and shipping, the bag still came in under budget. That exchange rate though….STINKS.

    • Thank you so much – in so glad you enjoyed the post. That sounds like a great find. I was looking at LV bucket bags too actually, they are so gorgeous. Should have bought from the U.S. awhile ago though. Oh well, sounds like we both did well regardless of the exchange rate sucking!

      • No kidding! I really hope the dollar picks up. I miss shopping at all my favourite US stores online! LOL! Yeah – thrilled with the LV bucket bag. It’s a little more understated than most of their monogram stuff.

  2. […] break the bank and thought for the cost of a slice of pizza it was worth a try. I don’t mind investing in a vintage designer bag, but a hat (which I might wear every few weeks) didn’t seem like a splurge worthy item to […]

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