May 3, 2011

Vintage Chanel Bags: Where to buy

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As most of you know, I love vintage bags as much as I love new and I get a lot of questions on where I buy my vintage bags and how do I know they are authentic.  (I currently have over 20 emails in my inbox about vintage bags alone so I know you guys love them as much as I do!)  My most recent vintage Chanel bags were purchases from a resale shop in Japan.  Japan and many parts of Asia have these really nice resale shops where they sell authentic, pre-owned bags in really great condition for less than retail.  Mind you, they are not "cheap" as in bags are still only about 10%-30% under retail (my guess at least) but still some savings.  Last time I was in Hong Kong I stopped in quite a few of them and wanted to buy so many but resisted.  When I heard that the prices for resale in Japan for Chanel was even better, I told my friend when I knew she was visiting so she could score some for herself (and luckily was kind enough to pick up a few for me too!)  Since then I've been addicted to vintage Chanel and so I've done some research on where to best buy online and thought I'd share with you guys what I've found.  A lot of these sites do sell other designer brands but since I'm mainly interested in Chanel, that's where I focused on. 

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:
 
MalleriesTaken 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.

Fashionphile (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.)  
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I hope my shopping tips have helped!  I really think vintage and pre-owned bags are just as fabulous as new and you can find different styles that you may never have seen.  I bought my vintage classic flap because I wanted a flap but didn't want the one that everyone and their mom has so I found the unusual size of a 10" flap that was more square than rectangle.  It was exactly what I wanted and for a bag that's 20+ years old, it's in great shape!  And it just goes to show that buying Chanel really does keep it's value as I've seen many bags that my mom owns that she bought in the 90's go for about the same as what she paid for.  Kind of crazy that a handbag can hold that kind of value!  Would love to hear any other tips from experienced vintage/resale shoppers.  Please share in the comments!

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.

    48 comments:

    1. Excellent post Tiffany, a lot of great information :)

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    2. Thank you so much for this post, Tiffany! I was sad to hear that Chanel raised their prices again. With this rate, I probably can't afford a new one. I don't mind vintage/preowned as long as they are authentic. I have no idea where to start looking for one. This post is very informative. Thanks again for sharing great tips :)

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    3. Great post! Awesome info.

      Thanks for sharing. I have 1 Chanel vintage bag that I got in Hong Kong at a resaler... I love it. Hope to be able to afford more one day :)

      xo
      http://artfashiontwentysomething.blogspot.com

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    4. Thank you so much for this post, Tiffany! This is the most comprehensive Chanel one stop shop information I have seen so far. Great tips!

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    5. Excellent guide, Tiffany. I get a lot of questions about Malleries and other resale sites, but I’ve never personally used any of them. Fashionphile is one of the oldest and most reputable resellers, so that may be why they jack resale prices up higher.

      Like you said, don’t be afraid to buy bags with slight blemishes or defects, but I would add to only do that if the price is really great. I would also recommend getting a quote from restoration places to get an idea of the costs to fix it (and if it’s even possible). I’ve considered several bags in slightly imperfect condition in the past, and the quotes I got from Lovin my Bags were pretty steep at $300-$500 to fix or “restore” the problem. I’m not sure if Chanel themselves charge higher or lower than that.

      Also, if possible I try to buy directly from the previous owner (if possible) to avoid the middleman reseller and get the best price, but of course you get lower variety to choose from that way. I also like to scour ebay for good deals. For two of my pre-owned bags, the owners were local so I asked to inspect the bags/box/cards in person before committing to buy. I think I would love these resale shops in Asia that you describe! I’ve heard about them in Japan, but never came across any while in HK.

      I also wanted to add you can find brand new bags online either on eBay or Bonanza (for not much less $ than retail, but there are colors and styles from previous seasons that you can’t find now in-stores) sold by resellers, who seem to buy and hold new bags, then sell them after Chanel’s price increases. I got my third bag this way. I saw the seller had many, many positive feedback from authentic listings in the past and was also listed on TPF as reputable, which gave me comfort to buy online.

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    6. I love TPF and have been a visitor for many years for many types of items (ladies there are great at authenticating Hermes scarves too). I've seen a lot of resellers in Singapore and Hong Kong but am still slightly weary. I bought my first vintage Chanel through the TPF MP.

      Thanks for the resellers and like you said, always authenticate because all it takes is one fake bag!

      xoxo,
      Chic 'n Cheap Living

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    7. Think I might be working extra hours, I want a Chanel bag more than anything in the world, these sites will be very useful, gotta find the perfect one before I invest on it, but definitely want vintage!

      Cess O. <3
      The Outfit Diaries

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    8. good post! i do love my vintage chanel stuff!!

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    9. Excellent post Tiffany!!! I may be the only one but I just can't do the whole vintage thing unless it's from a family member...LOL

      I'm just weird that way- it has to be brand new, crisp- straight from the Chanel boutique/Bloomies/Neimen or else I freak out :)

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    10. Thanks so much for sharing. I have seen fashionphile before but I am going to check out the others ! I desperately want a vintage Chanel but like you said vintage does not mean they are "cheap" (not even close! ha) LOVE your bags!!

      xxLily
      goldandgray.com

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    11. one of the most informative post EVER. i'm gonna stop myself from browsing those websites because i have no self control once i see something i want lol...

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    12. Love love love this post! Thanks Tiffany, it was so informational.

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    13. Great post Tiffany! I'm always hesitant with purchasing Chanel online - and you do get what you pay for. It's an investment, but well worth it. What's that line from Sex & The City - " I like my money where I can see it, hanging in my closet."

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    14. Thanks for this post Tiffany - I'm bookmarking it! I'm on the hunt for a Chanel myself and can't wait to go through all those websites you posted :)

      xo, alison*elle

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    15. Thank you so much for this post! I've been dreaming of a Chanel bag for so long. Now I can work on the research :)

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    16. Great post, Tiffany! I'm saving up to buy my first Chanel, but it looks like it'll still be a long time away.. and then the new price hike. OUCH.

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    17. This was a really awesome post Tiffany! I've sold like 5 bags to fashionphile and I do agree with you their prices are a bit steep for purchasing but it's great when your the seller because you def get the most bang for your buck back! I actually got more money back for my gst then what L paid for it.

      I've been searching high and low for a vintage chanel piece ( ideally i would like one in an exotic leather but the prices for vintage exotic are still crazy) because I do agree with you as much as I love my new chanel babies the vintage ones def have more character.

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    18. Great post Tiffany! And very timely, considering the pending Chanel price increase that will send many ladies hunting for better priced vintage handbags. TPF is the best resource for any and all used handbag options, not to mention full of drool worthy reveal photos!

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    19. Tiffany- thanks for sharing your research with us, especially now that Chanel rose the prices yet again for their classic bags. Maybe after checking out these sites I could finally get my beloved Chanel. Great post!

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    20. Thank you so much for this post Tiffany! I was just having this conversation the other day actually and you've saved me hours of research!

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    21. Thanks so much for putting this together Tiffany!

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    22. Great advice Tiffany! Thanks for sharing all this information - it will definitely come in handy :)

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    23. Terrific post! The ladies over at TpF are really good a sniffing out the fakes. You look lovely, as always!

      www.cashmereandcandy.com

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    24. wow thanks so much for spending the time to write this post! its going to be my bible!

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    25. always such helpful posts :) btw hope you're feeling better from allergies!

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    26. Great post! I got my vintage Chanel purse in Hong Kong and I love it! The great thing about HK is that you can bargain:) My aunt knew the reseller so she was able to talk down the price!

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    27. Tiffany, Can you do a blog on how to clean & protect your chanel bags? Do you buy any leather bag cleaner & spray water resistant leather protector? Thanks!

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    28. I buy luxury items for people all over the world so if you ever need help finding a certain handbag email me Brooke651@yahoo.com I have been doing this for years and have connections to all of the very best people and stores. I always welcome new clients :)

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    29. You can also buy 100% authentic pre owned bags, shoes and clothing at www.stylesequel.com. The new destination for luxury pre owned fashion and acessories

      Emma

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    30. Hi the other day I found this cute little vintage store, and I saw this Channel bag, it seemed very real to me, its sand colour, the leather feells real, and there is no serial numer inside and it doesnt say chanel Also the logo on the outside lost a little bit the color so from gold it turns into silver a little bit , its a litle damage but its driving me crazy the owner told me that its real that in the 70s it disnt came with a number inside the so idk can u please help me thank u my email is dani05gsgmail.com

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    31. love the bag in your first picture! any idea how i could find that one?!

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    32. Hello Tiffany,
      Thank you so much for mentioning Malleries.com on your post. If you do not mind, I would like to add a note about Malleries. Yes, we do have different sellers from all over the world but Malleries vets the sellers before the seller can open a shop on Malleries. We turn down many applicants so customers can know they are buying authentic. All shops must agree to have an authenticity guarantee. So I hope you do not mind my saying, we do not just let anyone open on Malleries. Being from all over the world, allows us to have a great selection.

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    33. Hi Tiffany,
      My sister is living in Hong Kong & I'm in search of another vintage Chanel bag. Do you have a name or address of the resale shops or individuals?
      Thank you.

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    34. @Alex George I'm sorry, I do not. I just walked around and stumbled upon stores or I asked other shop owners if they knew of any. But I don't remember store names or anything since it was last year. Sorry! But there are quite a few shops, I'm sure you can find some! :)

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    35. Hi,just notice this lade had a same post on her blog as yours:http://viktorialove.com/2011/05/07/a-fashionistas-guide-where-to-buy-vintage-chanel-bags/

      Thought you may like to know.

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    36. @ellen i appreciate you letting me know! I have notified her to take the post down.

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    37. hi ! can i know how much you bought yr 2 featured chanel vintage bags so that i can have a feel of how much i should be looking at?

      thanks much!

      alicilera@gmail.com

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    38. Great post!
      Keep up the excellent work.


      Max
      Consignment Director at Malleries

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    39. its odd but i think i saw this one other post that sounds and looks alot like yours....and it was posted after your post...just a heads up. maybe you already know :)

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    40. This is odd but i just came across your post and then immediately read another post that was the same. maybe you already know about it, but this is just a heads up anyways :)
      http://viktorialove.com/2011/05/07/a-fashionistas-guide-where-to-buy-vintage-chanel-bags/

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      1. Hi! I appreciate you alerting me. I had asked her to take it down back in December which she did, but it looks like she put it back up. Grrr... I will be contacting her again. Thank you!

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    41. Love your post!! I'm also a fan of Vintage Chanel handbags :) One of the reasons is because their a little bit cheaper than retail and second reason is because you can find some really unique vintage Chanel bags out there, who doesn't want that! And I love one of a kind pieces too .... So I know/like Malleries and Yogi closet, they have really good deal.But I did come across another site recently that was similar when I was looking for a maxi Chanel (hehe I don't really like big bags but I really want a big Chanel bag ...school) so anyways I came across the site it was called .... theluxurycloset.com ok OMG they have so many xl real Chanel bags I don't know where to begin lol Btw love you 10" Chanel!! Lucky you it's beautiful!

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    42. Love your post!! I'm also a fan of Vintage Chanel handbags :) One of the reasons is because their a little bit cheaper than retail and second reason is because you can find some really unique vintage Chanel bags out there, who doesn't want that! And I love one of a kind pieces too .... So I know/like Malleries and Yogi closet, they have really good deal.But I did come across another site recently that was similar when I was looking for a maxi Chanel (hehe I don't really like big bags but I really want a big Chanel bag ...school) so anyways I came across the site it was called .... theluxurycloset.com ok OMG they have so many xl real Chanel bags I don't know where to begin lol Btw love you 10" Chanel!! Lucky you it's beautiful!

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    43. Hi! If you believe it I just bought a Chanel bag from a vintage shop in Tokyo and it is exactly the one that you have in your first picture-- with quilted lambskin and a double CC charm on the zipper :)
      Do you know the name and number on the bag? I am looking for it online and can't find it!
      For other readers, Tokyo is an AWESOME place to buy designer bags and some trusted resellers (all in the Shinjuku area) are: Daikokuya, Brandoff Tokyo, Ginzo, and Komehyo. You will salivate just from walking inside! :)

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    44. HI, thanks so much for your post. Very helpful as I begin my quest in search of my own vintage chanel.

      FYI, not sure if it's already been mentioned but your article has been copied and pasted (without reference) on another site. I guess you should be flattered!
      http://viktorialove.com/2011/05/07/a-fashionistas-guide-where-to-buy-vintage-chanel-bags/#comment-63582

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      Replies
      1. Thanks Mama Bear. I have repeatedly asked her to take that copied post down but I'm sure it's one of her more popular posts so she takes it down for a day and then puts it back up. Thank you for letting me know though!

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