Illustration by Briana Murphy for The Market Herald

The Best Designer Handbags To Invest In

Adding a leather handbag to your investment portfolio could be a better long-term decision than investing in art or stocks. The characteristic of luxury goods as a long-lasting status item is making them highly attractive to buyers in a secondhand market

According to Deloitte’s Global Powers of Luxury Goods 2020 Report, the secondary luxury market is forecast to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.5 per cent, from US$16.2 billion in 2018 to US$68.5 billion in 2026.

We know leather goods such as handbags are extremely popular, as they are an aspirational product for first-time buyers, easy to buy online, and yet relatively scarce in the traditional offline retail channel. But what makes a Hermès Birkin or a Chanel 2.55 handbag worth investing in? And which styles should you buy to get the best return, if you decide to sell? We did some digging, and this is what we found.

In 2020, research compiled by the Knight Frank City Luxury Investment Index revealed that luxury handbags gained a 13 per cent increase in value compared to art, which only saw a 5 per cent return.

Source: Knight Frank Data | Illustration by Briana Murphy for The Market Herald

Luxury goods create status that is resistant to the passing of time; and this makes luxury goods, handbags and watches in particular attractive to personal collectors and a secondhand market.

Deloitte, Global Powers of Luxury Goods 2020

Here is a comprehensive list of the best luxury handbags to invest in.

1. The Hermès Birkin

In 2017, the lauded Hermes Birkin bag fetched a record HK$2.9 million (approximately A$524,896) in Hong Kong. 

If you are paying a premium price, you want exclusivity and The Hermes Birkin Togo handbag offers just that. A handbag fancied by many, but almost impossible to buy.

Source: 1st Dibs. Available to purchase pre-owned for A$34,911.73

Designed for its ‘practicality,’ and inspired by British actress Jane Birkin during a business trip from London to Paris in 1984, ‘The Birikin’ is a supple and spacious rectangular holdall handbag with a burnished flap and saddle stitching. A leather handbag designed for women to carry their “things” in.

In 2017, a study conducted by luxury online retail platform Baghunter found that the value of a Hermes Birkin Bag increased by 500 per cent over the last 35 years — an increase of 14.2 per cent year on year. 

Style | Leather | Hardware

The Hermes Birkin Togo is lined with the signature Hermes saddle stitching developed in the 1800s. Each handbag is hand-sewn, buffed, polished and painted with leather sought from several suppliers across France. First produced in cowhide, ostrich leather and calfskin, the bag has three silhouette dimensions to choose from 30, 35 and 40 centimetres.

An artisan prepares leather pieces to be made into a handbag | Source: Courtesy Hermès
An artisan prepares leather pieces to be made into a handbag | Source: Courtesy Hermès

A black or tanned Hermes Birkin Togo in the 35-centimetre size, and finished polished calfskin is the style you should invest in. Choosing a leather handbag with a classic colour — which pays homage to the luxury brand’s iconic range — is a good bet to make.

In times of uncertainty luxury collectibles are considered a secure longer-term investment.

Deloitte, Global Powers of Luxury Goods 2020

Online luxury eCommerce platform Farfetch retails a pre-owned 2002 Hermes Birkin Togo 35 tote for A$16,762, with the price of a pre-owned 2014 Birkin 35 tote reaching A$48,655. 

Luxury consignment store The Real Real retail the Birkin handbag at a starting price of roughly A$9383, while crocodile iterations sell for upwards of A$50,000. 

Source: FarFetch *Prices above are for pre-owned luxury items*

2. The Chanel 2.55 Handbag

Resale values are boosted by “artificially engineered scarcity,” limited edition releases and unique pieces designed around a luxury brand’s heritage.

For The House of Chanel – the 2.55 Handbag was the bag that started it all. 

Gabrielle Chanel designed a handbag that she needed herself, an accessory that freed up her hands. Designed as part of an Haute Couture Collection back in 1955, this is the handbag that Gabrielle Chanel wore and carried around on her days and nights out with Boy Capelle. 

Gabrielle Chanel designed the 2.55 handbag in classic quilted, black lamb leather with a signature gold chain – made from rows of flat metal links.

Photo: Gabrielle Chanel wears the 2.55 Iconic Handbag. Source: Chanel

This exclusive item was not available to purchase at Chanel boutiques or online until 2005 when Karl Lagerfeld, Creative Director of Chanel opted to reissue this timeless piece.

Since then, the House of Chanel has reimagined this classic style in various seasonal colours and added tweed fabrics for a more “on-trend” look and feel.

Photo: The 2.55 Handbag is available to purchase at Chanel boutiques from A$10,800*

Style | Leather | Hardware

Currently, the black 2.55 medium-sized calfskin with the gold-tone metal hardware handbag is valued at A$10,800. In 2020, the same luxury item could be purchased for around A$8760 and in 2019, the 2.55 was worth approximately A$6720 — that’s an increase of 20 per cent year on year.

Source: Chanel Online boutique*

According to the luxury online retail platform Bag Hunter, the price of a 2.55 Chanel handbag has increased by a huge 70 per cent in the past six years.

Illustration by Briana Murphy for The Market Herald

3Christian Dior’s Lady Dior 

The Lady Dior handbag remains one of Dior’s perennial designs. A signature piece of the French fashion house and a knowing nod to its founding couturier. The first time the Lady Dior bag appeared was on the arm of Lady Diana, Princess of Wales, on a trip to Paris. Before that moment, this Dior bag did not have a name – so Dior named the handbag after Diana. Since then, this piece has gained momentum pulling this luxury item through decades to come. 

Photo: Princess Diana wearing the Lady Dior Bag.

Today, this leather handbag has been re-worked, reimagined and reinvented with modern shades like matte blacks, pastel blues and embossed runway prints.

Source: Dior *Prices above are as per online*

Style | Leather | Hardware

From 2019 to 2021, the Lady Dior Handbag has increased in value by around 16 per cent. In 2021, the House of Dior increased the value of its luxury handbags by 10 per cent, with an increase of 6.1 per cent applied to all Lady Dior items.

Source: Dior

A medium-sized, black lambskin Lady Dior handbag enhanced with Dior’s iconic ‘Cannage’ stitching is currently valued at $6,677.

4. The Hermès Kelly

In the late 1950s, legend has it that Grace Kelly, a Hollywood star turned Princess of Monaco, was photographed holding the bag over her stomach to conceal the early signs of her pregnancy. The Hermes Kelly Handbag shot to international fame and was renamed the Kelly.

Photo: The photograph and bag that made the Hermès Kelly bag famous. Source: AP

The younger sister of The Hermes Birkin is the Hermes Kelly Handbag. Notorious for its simple yet structured silhouette, the Hermes Kelly is the other leather item that has experienced significant growth and popularity in the primary and secondary luxury markets.

Source: FarFetch *Prices above are for pre-owned items*

Shares in the luxury House of Hermes have continued to rise in value — over the past five years, they’ve increased by over 187 per cent.

At the time of writing shares in Hermes International were trading for 879.60 EUR | Source: Google

In 2016, one share in the luxury retailer was worth A$518. Today, one Hermes share will cost you A$1,489. Both the Hermes Birkin and the Hermes Kelly are becoming rarer to find as there are plenty of limited edition designs that today just aren’t made anymore — meaning there are only a select few in the world that you can get your hands on.

Source: Hermes. The Kelly Bag.

Style | Leather | Hardware

The Hermes Kelly is available in a few leather options with Clemence as the most popular and most durable option. This leather is completely scratch resistant due to its grainy, flat, and matted texture finish.

5. The Louis Vuitton Alma

The House of Louis Vuitton is notorious for its iconic monogram handbags. The Alma Neo handbag is a much-loved design that is bound to stand the test of time. The Alma Handbag was first designed for Gabrielle Chanel as a special order for personal use back in 1925 and was later retailed and distributed in 1934.

Photo: Iconic Leather / Monogram Options to choose from at Louis Vuitton.

Louis Vuitton first entered the luxury leather market with his exceptional travel leather goods, with the travel trunk one of the most well-established pieces in the House of LV.

In 2018, the most expensive Louis Vuitton leather trunk sold at an auction for A$293,400. There are only two existing models of this suitcase in the world and one is on display at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris. 

After Louis Vuitton stepped away from solely manufacturing travel luggage, the Alma Handbag was one of the first handbags he designed. Since then, this classic piece has been reimagined and reworked in countless leather selections and colours.

Source: Louis Vuitton

Style | Leather | Hardware

The Louis Vuitton Neo Alma PM, embossed with the LV monogram, has a modern twist to a classic design — a silhouette bound to stand the test of time. Its simple, streamlined shape and great functionality make this luxury leather piece an incredible option for an everyday handbag.

Image: Louis Vuitton. *Available to purchase at Louis Vuitton online*

Today, the Alma Neo handbag is priced at A$3750. An average price increase was applied to this particular design in 2020.

Louis Vuitton is known for its price hikes and dominates the luxury primary market alongside Chanel and Hermes as key luxury brands which determine and increase the price of their luxury goods.

Hikes have generally been applied globally, but the strategy works best in markets like China, where luxury consumption is recovering, demand is high and consumers are unable to travel to international markets where products may be cheaper. 

According to Bain and Company, China’s affair with the luxury goods market nearly doubled in 2020 and is expected to become the biggest market by 2025.

Source: Bain & Company | Illustration by Briana Murphy for The Market Herald

6. The Horsebit 1955 Gucci

Kering’s leading luxury brand, Gucci, accounted for 63 per cent of Kering’s revenue in FY19. It has more than doubled its sales between 2016 and 2019, achieving revenue of over US$10 billion for the first time in FY2019.

Deloitte, Global Powers of Luxury Goods 2020
Source: FarFetch *Prices above are for pre-owned items*

Gucci continues to be one of our most in-demand brands, and their handbags, in general, retain very high resale value — some of the highest in the market.

Sasha Skoda, Women’s Category Director at Gucci

Style | Leather | Hardware

The Horsebit 1955 Handbag was introduced by Gucci for its Cruise 2020 Collection — a design from the 1955 archive. This leather handbag pays tribute to the luxury brands heritage, combining the design of original hardware — the double ring and bar design — with a clean, modern silhouette.

Source: Gucci Horsbit 1955 Handbag

According to a Jefferies analysis, Gucci raised prices between May and June 2020 in Italy, U.K. and China with an approximate 9 per cent price hike on some leather goods. Classic styles like the 1955 Horsebit were included in the raise. 

7. The Classic Chanel 

Created by Karl Lagerfeld in 1983, the 11.12 handbag reinterprets the iconic 2.55 handbag.

Source: Chanel Online Boutique*

The 2.55 design combines the original Mademoiselle turn-lock introduced by Gabrielle Chanel (left). Lagerfeld redesigned the handbag by adding the ‘double cc’ Chanel clasp for a more modern look.

Lagerfeld introduced the ‘Iconic Chain’ A gold and silver chain interlaced with leather– a distinct look recognised by millions as the Classic Chanel bag. 

Source: Chanel Online Boutique*

Style | Leather | Hardware

This handbag has become a symbol of the House of Chanel and is today seen as one of the best investments in the primary and secondary luxury markets.

A metallic gold, lambskin Classic Chanel handbag is today valued at A$11,190. This is a seasonal colour and not part of Chanel’s classic collection range. On Farfetch, a Classic Chanel handbag in black lambskin or caviar leather fetches anywhere from $12,000 to over $17,000 pre-owned.

Source: Chanel Online boutique*
Source: Clair Report by Rebag | Illustration by Briana Murphy for The Market Herald

In May 2020, Chanel increased the prices of its handbags and some small leather goods worldwide to reflect higher raw materials costs because of the supply chain disruption following the coronavirus crisis.

8. The Dior Saddle

Designed in 1999, Dior’s Saddle Handbag first debuted on the runway in John Galliano’s Spring/Summer 2000 collection — and the rest is history. The Saddle Handbag quickly became the most talked-about accessory after being seen under the arm of Sex and The City’s Carrie Bradshaw.

Source: Scene from Sex and The City*

Style | Leather | Hardware

Dior’s recent fall 2018 runway saw the resurrection of the Saddle Bag, iconic for its oblong shape and unexpected prints. This time, the style was reworked in patchwork and beads.

Source: Dior *Prices above as per online*

Dior and Bottega Veneta handbags are the hottest items on the luxury secondary market, according to Rebag, a retailer and expert on buying and selling luxury goods. 

According to its Comprehensive Luxury Appraisal Index for Resale, the Dior Saddle handbag has a retention value of 92 per cent and is one of the safest bets to make in the secondary luxury market. 

Image: Dior *Available to purchase at Dior online boutique*
Source: Clair Report by Rebag | Illustration by Briana Murphy for The Market Herald

9. The Bottega Veneta Jodie Hobo 

In 2018, Creative Director, Daniel Lee joined Bottega Veneta and placed the fashion house in the spotlight when he designed the Pouch clutch bag, which became the fastest-selling bag in the history of the brand. 

Daniel Lee’s handbag collection is minimalist in design, yet rich in quality. Today, Bottega Veneta leather handbags are one of the most sought after leather pieces in the secondary luxury market.

Image: Bottega Veneta*

Style | Leather | Hardware

The classic style of the Jodie Hobo handbag is made using the fashion house’s signature Intrecciato technique. Created by weaving together thin strips of leather, a finished Intrecciato handbag appears simple and luxurious.

Source: FarFetch *Prices above are for pre-owned items*

The Jodie Hobo handbag didn’t have a name when first released, but adopted the title in response to a press photo of Jodie Foster using her Bottega bag as a shield from an unprompted photo-op.

Image: Jodie Foster shields herself with her Bottega Veneta handbag from the paparazzi. Source: Unknown.

According to the Clair Report, the average resale value of a Bottega Venta leather handbag is between 70 to 95 per cent, with the Jodie Hobo ranking the highest at 95 per cent value retention. On Farfetch, a pre-owned Jodi Hobo leather handbag will cost you anywhere from $4600. 

Source: Clair Report by Rebag | Illustration by Briana Murphy for The Market Herald

10. The Louis Vuitton OnTheGo 

Reminiscent of the famous Louis Vuitton Sac Plat, an iconic shape initially launched in 1968, the OnTheGo also draws its inspiration from Maison’s shopping bags.

Louis Vuitton’s OnTheGo Tote was reimagined and introduced in 2020 and has surged in popularity due to its large, accommodating size, limited availability and numerous variations in different prints and colourways, with Reverse Monogram being the most in-demand.

Image: Louis Vuitton. *Available to purchase at Louis Vuitton online*

Style | Leather | Hardware

First introduced in the Monogram Reverse canvas as an oversized model, the bag now comes in a medium-size, as well as a Monogram Empreinte iteration. With the Giant Monogram canvas on one side and Monogram Reverse on the other, it is virtually two bags in one.

Currently priced at A$3750, this luxury item has seen an 8.47 per cent price increase applied to this particular model in 2020 alone. The OnTheGo Tote is hard to purchase at the retail level, making it an excellent model to shop in the resale market.

Recent price increases have been pretty aggressive … In normal years a typical raise would be five or six per cent.

Katherin Parker, Analyst at Jefferies

LVMH’s chief financial officer Jean-Jacques Guiony said the Luxury House could afford to raise prices in 2020 because it was restrained in the previous four years.

In 2020, the LVMH recorded a decrease in organic revenue of only 3 per cent in an environment marked by the closure of stores over a period of several months.

Online distribution has accelerated the growth of the secondhand market. So, it’s no surprise Hermès, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton have not wavered from the upper echelons of brand value – Hermès handbags maintaining, on average, 80 per cent of their value, while Chanel and LV held 63 per cent.

The secondhand luxury goods market is augmenting the demand for products in the primary market.

Deloitte, Global Powers of Luxury Goods 2020

If one thing is for sure, it’s that – in times of uncertainty luxury collectibles are considered a secure longer-term investment.

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