How To Buy Vintage Handbags


I love vintage handbags.
A great vintage bag, in a style you can no longer find, can be the most chic alternative to any season’s “It” bag.
I often find them in village markets in Italy, taken from old estates that have changed hands. They don’t have second hand stores in Italy, nor do they have Goodwill, so local markets are an amazing resource for finding incredible old furniture, collectibles and on a good day, vintage handbags.

Vintage-Chanel-HandbagOne time at an arts market in my Italian home town of 
San Gimignano I found a lady selling a cache of  Louis Vuitton bags from the 70’s. The bags were well worn but still in enviable condition. I pored over them, looking for every conceivable sign of a fake, but they were indeed the real deal.

If you are a lover of vintage handbags, or if you are seeking out a second hand Louis Vuitton, Chanel or any other major designer handbag, it is important to know how to spot a fake and how to identify an authentic bag.

Here in the USA everywhere you look there are girls sporting fake Louis’. I don’t think people realize how disgusting the trade in fake designer bags really is. It funds terrorism, involves child labor and human trafficking – it is deplorable. Before you even think about buying a knock off Louis or Hermes (or any other designer) make sure you read this article from Harpers Bazaar magazine about 
The Fight Against Fakes
One of the paragraphs that has haunted me for years, and that comes to mind every single time I see a girl cruising along with her counterfeit Louis is this:

Then I read the following passage from my book, Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster. “‘I remember walking into an assembly plant in Thailand a couple of years ago and seeing six or seven little children, all under 10 years old, sitting on the floor assembling counterfeit leather handbags,’ an investigator told me… ‘The owners had broken the children’s legs and tied the lower leg to the thigh so the bones wouldn’t mend. [They] did it because the children said they wanted to go outside and play.'”

It’s barbaric.

So now that we are clear on why we should never, ever buy counterfeit handbags, lets look at an article I found on The Zoe Report on how to buy an authentic vintage designer handbag.

How To Buy Vintage Handbags


Red Flags To Look For

“Luxury brands will always use quality leather, so expect an even and consistent skin. Red flags include crooked stitching or lettering and gold flaking off the hardware. Dust bags, boxes, and authenticity cards aren’t always included, but this doesn’t mean the bag is a fake. A few examples of other authenticity markers are Chanel always has a hologram sticker listing the serial number, and for Hermès Birkin bags there is a special stamp embossed into the leather strap.”


Coveted Styles Will Get Top Dollar

“The rarest and most coveted bags are the Hermès Kelly and Birkin. For Birkin bags, styles made of exotic skins are the most sought after, while Kelly bags from the 1970s are also constantly in demand.”


Only Consider Bags In Good, Excellent or Mint Condition

“Most reputable vintage dealers are highly selective. For example, at Resurrection we only carry bags that are in excellent-to-mint condition. When shopping, we recommend following our standard checklist: Make sure the bag has no stains, tears or rips; that the lining is unstained and intact; and that the hardware has no scratches or tarnishing. The corners can sometimes have slight wear, but that can always be easily fixed.”


Beware Of Deals That Are TOO Good

“Always buy from a reputable source and do your research to make sure the seller has an authenticity guarantee. A common mistake is someone buying a bag online for a price that is too good to be true. Usually, it turns out the deal was too good to be true. Most vintage bags will go for around the same price across the board. If you see a Chanel bag for $200, and it is in perfect condition, be wary.”

All Images courtesy of The Zoe Report

Before purchasing a vintage designer handbag you can also google how to spot a fake for that brand.

If you are in Europe and are thinking about buying a knock off handbag from a street vendor (or anyone else) make sure you are aware of the penalties for doing so. They do look out for counterfeits at the airports.

A few years ago an acquaintence told me she was stopped at JFK

because traces of cocaine were found on her counterfeit Gucci handbag. She had a hard time explaining that she knowingly bought a counterfeit handbag from a street vendor in Florence, and found herself in a world of trouble.