First a few things: I did most of my research through The Purse Forum which is a fantastic resource for anyone that is interested in purses. The ladies on there are super knowledgeable and I totally trust their opinions and guarantees about authenticity. All of the below have been confirmed authentic resalers from The Purse Forum and either I've had experience with them or I've had friends that have had good experiences with them. For a great list of online authentic resellers, see this thread here. My caveat is even if it's from one of these resellers, to be 100% sure you can have the ladies on TPF authenticate it on this thread before buying anything.
I think that my experience so far when telling people that my handbags are vintage, they automatically think "cheap" or "affordable". While they are more affordable than new bags, vintage Chanel bags will still run you about $1,000+. I've yet to see any classic flaps go for less than that no matter how old unless it's the mini size ones. Some of the bags are still pretty much the price of retail depending on how popular or rare the style/color/size is. So buying vintage does not necessarily mean that you are going to save a lot of money but it does mean that you'll often get a bag that not a whole lot of people are carrying which is why I love my vintage bags.
Now, onto the stores:
Malleries: Taken from the website: Malleries is a online mall for the "Luxury Addict" and Luxury Resellers alike. You'll find a wide selection of designer clothing, handbags and accessories from premiere luxury brands such as Hermes, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Bottega Veneta.. Valentino, Emilio Pucci, Alexander McQueen and more
Because there are many different sellers on Malleries, (you can think of it like an Etsy for designer goods - lots of sellers for the same type of items) there is a lot of selection from newer season bags to the popular classics to the truly vintage bags. Each seller on Malleries has a different return policy and some do let you return so read the return policy found on each item page before you buy. Photos are generally okay but I find that most don't do modeling photos so sizing wise it may be hard to see how it would look on you so really take note of the measurements given. A lot of times pictures make the purse look a lot bigger than it really is.
Yoogi's Closet: The selection here is not as extensive as Malleries but they are all sold by Yoogi's closet instead of individual sellers so there is less worry about getting a fake bag from a bad seller. (Malleries has a good reputation and I don't know of that happening to anyone but just saying it could happen since it's based on individual sellers) I also love the 30 day return policy and before they send the bag to you it's been professionally cleaned and rejuvanated by them which is a great perk. They always have good photos of the bag and I love that they show it modeled on a mannequin to see the size.
ebay and online store): This is one of the few ebay sellers that I trust. They actually have two retail stores that you can go to in Beverly Hills and San Francisco. I have yet to go to either but definitely will try and visit next time I'm in SF. It may just be me but I feel like their prices are a little bit higher but maybe they are pickier about what they take in and since they have actual stores they have more overhead than the other sites. I do like them a lot though because they have a good selection and always have really great pictures of the items and shipping is often free.
There are a lot more resalers out there but those are the 3 that I've had experience with and would recommend.
Before you buy here are a few things to do:
- Shop around at a few other sites (here is the confirmed authentic resalers list from TPF and even ebay will still be a good comparison) to find similar type bags and note the prices. Most bags should be in or around the same price point. If you find one that is $100-$200 lower than other similar bags, you may have just found one for a great price! If you find one that is $500+ lower than other similar ones, well you might just want to step away or get it authenticated before you buy as the price difference even between used/vintage is not going to be that big. (Unless, the bag is damaged which that might account for the big difference.)
- Note what the bag comes with. All Chanel bags should come with the authenticity card and have the hologram sticker and both should have matching numbers. (Unless it's an older bag, which correct me if I'm wrong here but I've heard that the Chanel bags before the early-mid 80's did not have holograms in the bag.) Some come with the dust bags, some may come with the boxes. Obviously it depends on what the previous owner kept but the price may be affected higher/lower depending on if it comes with these items and if they are important for you to have than make sure to ask the seller if it's not stated on the product page. It's pretty hard to get the dustbag and the box with vintage bags but the authenticity card should always be included.
- Ask for clearer pictures if needed. If you care if the stitches on the corner are coming apart or if the straps have any markings/loose stitches, ask for better pictures of each section and be specific as to what you want to see. A lot of sellers will state where there are loose stitches or marks on the leather but some may just forget and if you don't ask, they won't tell you either. A good seller will be happy to send you closer photos because they will understand about buying a pre-owned bag.
- Don't be afraid to buy a damaged bag if you know for sure it's authentic. You will be able to take your bag to the "Chanel Spa" and they will do everything from re-dyeing your bag to restitching or even adding new hardware. Just go to any Chanel boutique, even the ones in Nordstrom and they will send it off for you to get fixed. Of course it's going to cost you but from some of the results I've seen, they do an amazing job. It's a long process (I've heard it can take up to 3 months to get your bag back from the spa) so if you just have a loose stitch or maybe a small mark on the leather, a lot of shoe repair shops also do handbag repairs and they can take care of the smaller less Chanel specific fixes (like dyeing the bag or adding new hardware).
- Fake bags do have hologram stickers and authenticity cards but one trick is to google the serial number that is given (all good sellers will have a picture of the serial number within the bag). A lot of the counterfeit bags use the same number and the search results will pretty much tell you it's fake as there are many well known fake serial numbers that are being used. If even just one other bag shows up in your search with that same number, you will know it's fake. (just do a google search of "Chanel bag 7244764" and see what pops up.)
P.S. I get a lot of emails from readers who stumble upon sites that sell designer items for great prices and they ask me if I've heard of them. I don't buy my designer shoes and handbags from any place other than well known stores - Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks, Barneys and Net-a-porter or on the actual designers website (like miumiu.com or ysl.com). Bluefly.com is the only site that I know for sure that sells authentic discount designer items. Obviously this post is for vintage or resale so the sites mentioned above are the only ones that I have experience with. Any other ones I have not heard of and my best suggestion for you is to just google the name of the website and add "fake" or "authentic" to the end of the search term and usually you'll get search results which will give you the answer.
UPDATE: I do not have recommendations on shops in Asia to buy vintage bags. Like I stated earlier, a friend brought mine back from me from Japan and she does not recall the name of the shop. She actually just asked the shop girls that worked at the boutiques and they recommended a few shops for her. In Hong Kong and Taiwan, I just stumbled upon them while out shopping and browsed but did not buy.
Also, I can not help you out on the best place to sell your vintage bags. I've only bought before, never sold so I don't have experience with that. Your best bet is to ask a designer resale shop in your area or to do a bit of research on the Purse Forum and ask the girls there, they all seem very knowledgeable!
Thank you for all of the kind readers who have pointed me to the blogger who has copied this post basically word for word. She takes credit for it even though I did all the research and have experience with all of the sellers/sites that I have mentioned. I have asked her repeatedly to take it down and she'll take it down for a day and then put it right back up. I just ask that if you come across her post to not trust any other advice she gives about buying vintage Chanel as she obviously does not have experience if she has to resort to copying somebody else's post! I take buying vintage authentic pieces very seriously and would never take advice from someone who hasn't done her research.