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Hey Ladies, was that Purse an Investment?

Updated: May 23, 2020

What a strange question, you may think. But no…not really. There are so many things that one often buys without ever thinking, was that a good investment. I get it, and most often, they’re not. But if you are into designer things, don’t just think last season’s or decade’s purse, clutch or handbag is worthless. I am here to tell you; these might have been the best investment of the bunch. Okay, husbands, do not shoot the messenger. I do not write this to cause a run on the malls in a few weeks. Although, I am sure some will be stimulating of the market with that $1200. If you have that luxury. Fact: Most art gallery purchases are worth about 20 percent when you walk out the door. The same goes for jewelry from most major retailers. Most know what happens to the value of a car once you drive it off the lot. And the list goes on, but we see a strange trend in designer handbags and the like. The good ones can hold some or most of their value especially in relation to the “good investments.” And yet, it’s something most of my past appraisal clients rarely see any value in and have been pleasantly surprised to learn.

I can’t tell you how many times a client has said, “I donated all my mom’s clothing and handbags.” And mom was a shopper. This makes me sad and crazy at the same time. The values of some of these vintage purses at recent auction may surprise you. In fact, March 5th of this year, an auction in Greenwich sold a crocodile Hermès Birkin bag for $170,000. Now I don’t expect that in your closet but, I suggest making sure.

Fashion is big business at auction, and lately I see more excitement over a vintage purse and designer accessories than I do for fine art. Collectors get very serious about a slightly-used, upscale brand-named bag that is in good condition. And it’s a phenomenon that is worldwide. Almost 5 years ago, Glamour Magazine reported that a pair of shoes sells every two seconds on eBay and a purse every five seconds; and on mobile, the numbers are seven and 11 seconds, respectively. Imagine what that number is today.

Over the years, I’ve seen near-new designer purses and bags do very well locally at auction. A Chanel Small Flap Hobo Bag Shoulder Bag realized $1,675 in May of 2019. A Louis Vuitton Keepall Travel Bag, $580 in that same sale. My favorite surprise was a Scottsdale native’s used orange Birkin bag that brought in $3,000. The best part was the consignor’s astonishment that we were even interested in auctioning it. It was a gift to her, and she never even took it out in public. It was headed to the local thrift store.

There are many things like this in your home. These are the items that people believe to have little or no value because they are “used.” Yet, most feel their art, antiques or collectibles have done nothing but appreciate with age. Supply and demand always reign supreme and for some reason unbeknownst me, a good designer purse has demand, and therefore, value. The short moral to this story, in grand picture is, do not donate anything until you contact a professional appraiser. You may be donating an orange Birkin or a Marc Jacobs Carolyn bag that could be worth hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars.


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