We all have heard that the Hermès Birkin is an “investment bag” because it behaves like real estate, appreciating over time. Many designer handbags, most of which are far more accessibly-priced than the Birkin, do the same thing. The Chanel Classic Flap, Dior Saddle Bag, Louis Vuitton Pochette Métis, and Hermès Kelly all sell quickly and often above retail.
These handbags aren’t just accessories, they’re investments, and today there’s an added cache associated with an impressive vintage piece. What makes these bags so special?
Luxury brands like Cartier, Hermès and Louis Vuitton were founded to serve the French royal court in the 18th and 19th centuries. Later, fashion icons of the 20th century like Grace Kelly, Jane Birkin, and Jacqueline Onassis breathed modern glamour into these fashion houses’ royal reputation.
Take the Lady Dior. Bernadette Chirac, who was then First Lady of France, gave one to Princess Diana during her first visit to Paris in 1995. At that time, it was an unnamed, brand-new design. In response to Princess Diana’s obvious love for the present, the fashion house christened it Lady Dior in her honor.
While pedigree helps, the enduring popularity of these pieces also comes from their craftsmanship and style.
Designer handbags are considered lifelong companions, and often family heirlooms, because of the time and raw materials required to make them. The leather and exotic skins used in designer bags are so prized that fashion houses have been discretely buying tanneries in France, Italy, and even Nigeria for years to corner the market on the finite number of quality hides. Palladium hardware and titanium zippers that never stick ensure these pieces last forever. Only the most skilled craftspeople are involved in the production process because of the risks of destroying these ultra-rare materials. With this level of perfection, it takes a single artisan more than 40 hours to craft an Hermès Birkin from start to finish. And the stitch on which the brand’s reputation is based — the saddle — cannot be replicated by a machine and is impossible to unravel. Seriously.
Unlike trendy handbags that are abandoned after a season or two, the classic luxury handbags are timeless, ready to be worn year after year and with almost any outfit.
One of the most recognizable handbags in the world—Chanel’s Flap Bag—was introduced in 1955, looks remarkably the same, and is still extremely sought after, despite its ever-increasing price tag.
The Louis Vuitton Noe bag was first created in the 1932 and is the second oldest Louis Vuitton bag in existence. While it’s a popular everyday bag today, it was originally made for a champagne maker, who asked the fashion house to design a sturdy, stylish bag that could transport five bottles of bubbly, four upright, and one in the middle upside down.
The Hermès Birkin was famously created for singer Jane Birkin in 1981 by Hermès’ creative director, Jean-Louis Duman, after a chance meeting on an international flight where he sketched her ideal design on the back of an airsickness bag.
This took the fashion world by storm when it debuted in 2001, at a time when the brand's parent company viewed it skeptically, only to be convinced of its worth once the brand’s models fell in love with it.
Imagine wearing a dress you purchased in 1932, 1955, or even 2001! Never.
But these timeless handbags have an outward appearance that is deceptively simple, with clean lines and materials that patina and actually improve with age.
These handbags also give back. A study by Baghunter revealed that a Chanel bag is a better investment than a house. And Birkin bags are now a wiser investment than gold or silver. The scarcity of the bags and their long production time means collectors can spend years searching for favorite models. Annual price increases suggest that their values only grow with age, making the choice to purchase one as an investment more and more justifiable.
If you’re interested, shop for bags, along with other must-haves you’ll always love at The Revury.