It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why handbags are so important to a woman’s wardrobe. First and foremost, there’s functionality. What woman doesn’t lug around way too much stuff in her purse? Second, there’s the fashion factor. Each season creates of-the-moment ‘it’ bags that are coveted for a specific and unique color, style and desirability. And let’s face it: Designer handbags have become status symbols.
In today's difficult economical environment, spending money on the "it" bag may come across as indulgent. This is all the more reason why investing in a classic is a smart decision. But what about when you’re ready to purchase a piece that will last a lifetime–those to-die-for totes that will never go out of style? Look no further because Portero has put together a simple primer on how to buy an investment handbag.
Specific animal skins often used in the most high-end bags. More common examples are alligator, crocodile, ostrich, lizard and snakeskin. Less common are shark, eel, stingray and buffalo.
These are the metal accents on a bag, and can include handles, snaps, buckles, locks, clasps, grommets, frames and feet.
Bags produced in limited quantity that are typically available for a chosen period of time, and are more difficult to obtain as a result of demand for rare product.
Highly coveted seasonal bags that receive a flurry of media attention. Often carried by high-profile celebrities before they are even available in stores.
One-of-a-kind pieces commissioned by a customer.
Portero’s 4 Steps to finding & buying an Investment Bag:
Much of buying a handbag has to do with the owner’s personal style. But before you even consider whether you are more of a ‘hobo’ or ‘doctor’s bag’ type of gal, you need to first narrow down your list of Investment Handbags via our trusty 4-steps:
1) Choose from an established design house with known staying power such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel or Hermès. Buying solely for a brand name can seem tacky in some situations, but with handbags, you get what you pay for. These ultimate luxury brands put the most time, care and craftsmanship into their products and it shows. Bags are handmade with the best materials and will last for years to come.
2) Further narrow the field by zeroing in on the brand’s most enduring styles–ones that are sold season after season. If you are more worried about style than resale, go for the classics. These are bags that don’t lose their appeal because they are not based on fads or seasonal trends. See below for a list of Portero’s Ultimate Classic Investment Handbags.
3) Choose a long-lasting material that will not easily rip, fade or damage. Many of the most sought-after bags are made with exotic skins. These skins are often rare and thus more coveted and expensive. If properly taken care of, a bag made of crocodile or alligator in a classic style will remain a status symbol for years. Calfskin is one of the most beautiful and durable leathers and is often used by Hermès. Also, textured/embossed leathers tend to hold up very well, as they have a tendency to be more weather proof than other leathers and do not scratch as easily as a smooth polished leather.
4) Pick a neutral color that will lend itself well to resale or will match with most of your wardrobe. It’s no surprise that black, brown and neutral toned handbags are timeless and do better at resale than brightly colored bags (except for certain limited edition pieces or brands, more on that later). In addition, these neutral colors will work with virtually any outfit and in most seasons, depending on the material you choose.
Portero’s Ultimate Classic Investment Handbags:
** These bag models are often available on Portero at prices below retail.
The Rolls Royce of handbags, each is made entirely by hand and some models have waitlists of years. The most coveted styles are the Birkin and the Kelly. Birkin bags sell in Hermès stores starting at $8,500 and ranging upwards of $50,000. Price varies depending on the skin. Obviously a porosus crocodile (considered the finest crocodile skin in the world with the smallest scales) handbag is going to be more than five times the price of a calfskin (Clemence, Togo, Evergrain, Box Calf, etc.) or goat leather (Chevre) Birkin. Birkins are also made in Toile, which is considered the most durable and easy-to-clean woven canvas. Exotic skin Birkins that sell for over $50,000 tend to have special features such as diamond accented hardware.
Kelly bags have a greater dispersion in price range because of the volume of existing vintage Kellys, as they have been around much longer than Birkin bags. Vintage Kellys (depending on size and condition) at the very very low end can start around $2,200 in leather, and run much higher if exotic skin is involved. Newer leather Kelly’s typically start around $5,500. These price ranges are very broad as there are many sizes, colors, and styles of these bags. Prices vary depending on condition, rarity of color, skin or leather, hardware, etc.
View All Hermes Birkins & Kellys
The brand’s unmistakable quilted appearance has been in vogue for more than half-a-century. Choose a classic Chanel Quilted Single or Double Flap Bag to make the most of your purchase. These typically come in Caviar Leather (textured with small pebbles and highly durable), Lambskin (soft and smooth), and Patent. These bags range anywhere from $1,900 to upwards of $3,500 depending on size, color, rarity, etc.
View All Chanel
A repeating logo has never looked so sophisticated. This company’s timeless and unforgettable monogram automatically puts you in fashion’s elite; choose a Speedy that will hold all of your essentials. Both monogram and epi leathers are great investments. In the Louis Vuitton store, monogram and epi leather Speedys typically sell for anywhere between $700-$1,400 depending on size.
View All Louis Vuitton
A piece from this collection allows you to go high-fashion without following trends. There’s a little bit of downtown chic in styles like the ever-popular Motorcycle. The designer pumps these bags out every season without fail, changing styles or adding to the classic existing ones. The Arena City Classic bag is always a safe bet. These bags sell in stores from about $1,400 - $3,000. When factoring in exotic skins such as crocodile, these bags can be over $17,000.
View All Balenciaga
Elegant and decidedly luxe, these bags use top-of-the-line leathers and are known for exceptional quality. The signature Marissa satchel has socialite written all over it. Depending on the leather, these bags typically start at $1,000 for basic leather styles. When they are special edition or exotic, they start around $5,000 and can go upwards of $10,000.
View All Ferragamo
The Italian design house is known for its soft and beautifully woven (intrecatto) nappa leather bags that are as durable as they are beautiful. The classic Veneta Hobo is the perfect functional and fashionable daytime accessory. These bags typically sell in stores from $2,000 for the smallest, up to around $3,500. This hobo bag is also periodically made in exotic skins, which obviously hikes the price significantly.
View All Bottega Veneta
Selleria bags are a classic staple made from Selleria leather and crafted using ancient Roman saddle-making techniques with signature equestrian topstitching. These bags come in many different styles from hobos to totes to doctor bags. Selleria bags usually sell in stores from around $1,500 and past $3,000. But, don’t forget the popularity of the Baguette (Sex and the City, anyone?) for an evening out on the town. These usually run from $1,000 up to $2,500 depending on size and leather, and obviously a much higher price for exotic skins
View All Fendi
All hail the queen of crystals. Leiber’s gorgeous Austrian crystal studded bags defy categorization because they are all so wonderfully unique. In this instance, snagging one of her limited edition clutches is the way to go. In stores Judith’s crystal bags usually sell between $3,000 and $6,000.
View All Judith Leiber
As explained above, some bags are worth more because of their exclusivity. Limited editions often gain value immediately after they are discontinued for the sheer hard-to-get factor. Also, certain brands are coveted for their unique colors. For example, Balenciaga releases its standard bags in unusual colors each season. These small batches are coveted because there are fewer in existence. Also, Hermès bags such as Birkins and Kellys are extremely hard to get in general; let alone getting the exact color, leather, and style you want. The waiting list on a Birkin is two years, and that is if you even get on the waiting list. Typically you have to have a good relationship with a Sales Associate to be able to order one of these beauties.
Top Tips for Handbag Care:
– When not in use, store in the protective dust bag that it came with. When storing it, make sure it has ample room to breathe away from your other handbags so the shape of the bag stays intact. Also put your handbags in the same dust bag when you pack it in a suitcase for travel.
– Handle it with clean hands and keep away from lotions, perfumes and creams.
– Water is the enemy! Try to resist the urge to throw bottled water in your most special bags; otherwise, make sure the top is screwed on tight. Also avoid carrying investment bags in rainstorms and placing them on the floor at bars or restaurants.
– Pen marks can drastically reduce a bag’s value, even when just on the inner lining. Store writing instruments in a plastic zip container to transport in your bag.
– Consider purchasing a bag liner. These inexpensive fabric pouches can move from handbag to handbag, saving time and the possibility of lining stains.