Should You Sell Your Bag Right Now?
Handbags are an inherently personal purchase, and the choice to sell bags is never easy. You surely remember the first time you invested in Chanel, or the thrill you felt when you found out your Dior Saddle was de rigueur again, or the satisfaction of saving up and finally scoring that Birkin… so how could you possibly say goodbye to them? On the other hand, once a new bag catches your eye, it can be nearly impossible to ignore the urge to get it. And while some have cavernous walk-in closets to store treasures, others are battling the confines of three-hundred-square-foot apartments and need to sell bags just to make room for new ones.
Whether you’re looking to pass on the pieces you never wear, paring back your collection or trying to earn a little shopping money to snag your next obsession, you might need help from someone who knows handbags inside and out. You can always schedule a valuation of your bags with a TRR expert, virtually or in person, but what if you need a little extra guidance before taking that final step?
We asked two of The RealReal’s trusted aficionados — Handbag Valuation Manager Kiara Cooper and Handbags, Shoes & Accessories Merchandise Manager Kelly McSweeney — what to hold onto, what to sell and how to make those tough calls. Use our guide below to answer the big “keep or consign” questions, then dig into all of the details so you can sell bags with confidence.
Classic Bags: Keep or Consign?
First things first — what constitutes a classic? “A classic bag is always simple, functional and of the time,” says Kiara Cooper. “We think of a classic bag as timeless, but it typically reflects the era it was released. Its design and practicality carry it throughout history and ultimately elevate it to icon status.” Bags like the Hermès Kelly, Chanel Classic Flap and Louis Vuitton Speedy have endured for these reasons, and are extremely sought-after in the secondary market.
When figuring out whether or not to sell your classic bag, first assess how often you wear it. If you’re never seen without it and can’t bear the thought of being apart, keep it. Don’t fret about that return-on-investment — the allure of classic bags is steady, as is the resale value. Classic bags hold about 70% of their original retail price on average, so you can always sell in the future.
If you haven’t worn your bag in awhile, though, consign it. Demand is up for bags from brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermès and Chanel, and resale value for both the Louis Vuitton Speedy and Chanel Classic Flap has risen 31% this year. The Hermès Kelly is also a top earner, on average selling at 22% above the retail price. “I’ve seen consignors earn a bit more for their investment bags recently, and recommend you consign your Speedy and Classic Flaps now,” says Cooper. “We’ve been able to list some Chanel Classic Flap Bags in pristine condition at or over the retail price. The most coveted color-style combination is black caviar, as most find it best suited to stand the test of time.”
It Bags: Keep or Consign?
The It bags of the moment seem ubiquitous on social media one minute and then passé the next. Many have the potential to become perennial favorites though, and the ones that stick around in the zeitgeist longer arguably have a touch of heritage appeal as well. “The Dior Montaigne bag debuted in Spring/Summer 2019, and entered the world with a bang via a huge influencer campaign,” says Cooper. “The Dior Montaigne is named for the original Dior Atelier address, 30 Avenue Montaigne. This was where Christian Dior himself held his very first presentation.” Demand for the Dior Montaigne is currently up 353%.
The buzziest bags typically hold consistent resale value for the first year or two after their release, and if you’re ready to level up to the newest bag du jour, consign your current It bag now. It’s definitely a smart time to sell Prada; Prada Re-Edition bags have recently seen a resurgence, with bags selling at 146% over their retail price. “As the name states, Prada Re-Edition bags were reissued to emulate iconic styles from the early 2000s,” says Cooper. “The Re-Edition collection, which dropped in 2019, features nylon bags that are reminiscent of the original Vela and Tessuto bags.” The Cult Gaia Mini Astraea is another popular style that’s still having a moment (and is leading shoppers to seek it out in the resale market).
If you aren’t quite ready to part with your It bag, keep it and avoid seller’s remorse. Some bags are worth having in your personal collection, and considering the fact that trends are cyclical, you’ll be grateful you held onto it when it comes back in style one day.
Vintage Bags: Keep or Consign?
What’s old is new again… or at least, what’s vintage is on-trend again. In the last few years, heritage brands like Gucci, Fendi, Celine and Dior have pulled inspiration from their archives and revamped everything from logos to silhouettes to hardware. They’ve also created an appetite for the originals in the process. Take the Gucci Jackie bag, for instance — the house just re-released an updated version for Fall 2020 as the Gucci Jackie 1961. “Resale value of vintage versions is up 49% to last year, and searches on The RealReal for the Gucci Jackie have risen 131% this quarter,” notes Kelly McSweeney.
If you’re a vintage connoisseur, dive into your collection and assess the amount of wear and tear your bags have endured over the years. Is your vintage bag in top resale condition — as flawless as the day you first bought it, and perhaps with its original box and dust bag? Consign it. The better the condition, the higher the resale price… and the faster it’ll sell. “In general, women’s bags in pristine condition (with tags and packaging, no signs of wear) and in excellent condition (without tags, no signs of wear) sell 15% faster than bags in very good or good condition,” notes McSweeney. “They’re also priced up to 25% higher. Handbag resale value for many leading heritage brands has risen this year, and we’re seeing a halo effect with prices of vintage bags also rising. It’s a great time to consign vintage.”
Has your vintage bag seen better days? Care, then consign. By giving your vintage leather bag a little TLC first, you’ll be able to reap the rewards later. Canvas and coated canvas bags are also incredibly popular in the secondary market; the resale value of Louis Vuitton Multicolore pieces continues to rise, and these bags are now selling for up to 2.8x retail, while vintage Fendi Zucca Chef bags’ resale value is up 25% this year. “Louis Vuitton Multicolore is made of a sturdy coated canvas, but still requires a bit of maintenance,” says Cooper. “Similar to leather items, try to avoid extreme temperatures. It is easy to spot-clean with a cloth, but do not use soap. In order to preserve the shape of a LV Multicolore bag, be sure to stuff it before storing it away in its dust bag. For vintage Fendi Zucca jacquard canvas bags, spot-clean small stains with a cloth that will not leave its fibers behind on the fabric when wet. And don’t forget to avoid the leather trim when cleaning.”
Hobo Bags: Keep or Consign?
A certain amount of slouch has been present in wardrobes lately… but we’re not talking about loungewear. Soft, crescent-shaped hobo bags have been making a comeback, with brands like Bottega Veneta, Rejina Pyo, By Far and Brandon Maxwell refreshing the style for Fall 2020. “Hobo bags gained popularity with fashion it-crowds in the early 2000s, when large bags were in,” says Cooper. “We slowly started to see another increase in popularity around 2015/2016, and then hobo bags started to gain traction again after Daniel Lee reinvented Bottega Veneta’s iconic hobo as the Jodie.”
The hype for hobo bags is real — their resale value overall has risen 30% this year. If your hobo is more pared down and on the larger side, consign it to cash out quickly. “Hobo bags’ newfound popularity is also coinciding with the shoulder bag trend,” notes Cooper. “The hobo really appeals to shoppers who love the shoulder bag, but need more room for their necessities.” Searches for the Bottega Veneta Jodie hobo bag grew 126% over the third quarter of the year; meanwhile, the Louis Vuitton Graceful bag’s resale value has risen 22% yearly. If your hobo skews more boho than streamlined, however, keep it. Clean, updated styles will likely sell faster and earn you more.
Bottega Veneta Bags: Keep or Consign?
Ever since Daniel Lee assumed the design reins at Bottega Veneta, members of the fashion elite have been enchanted by all things Pouch, padded and intrecciato. The Pouch immediately sparked a desire for clutches — the bag’s resale value is holding currently at 97% — but Lee, always one step ahead of the curve, soon followed up with the Cassette, Sponge, Arco and BV Jodie. There is also, of course, The Chain Pouch, a subtle update of The Pouch that features a chunky, shimmering chain shoulder strap; since its release earlier this year, searches for the bag have already increased 144%.
If you’ve been with Bottega Veneta from the beginning and have always identified with the “When your own initials are enough” motto, you likely possess an intrecciato bag… and now’s the time to consign it. Both Lee’s classic takes and supersized interpretations of the intrecciato weave led to a popularity surge for new and old Bottega, which shows no signs of slowing down; Bottega intrecciato searches were up 29% last quarter alone, with resale value for new and older intrecciato styles remaining strong. “I recommend consigning intrecciato bags like the Nodini, a.k.a. the Intrecciato Messenger, or the Olimpia,” says Cooper. In general, you can’t go wrong with consigning your Bottega — overall, the resale value of the house’s bags is up 55% this year.
Are you a Daniel Lee-obsessed Pouch-owner who is constantly dazzled by the brand’s latest offerings? Bottega Veneta’s Fall 2020 styles — the BV Twist, BV Snap and BV Crisscross — might just prove to be the next big wave of It bags, so you should definitely consider consigning to make room for the newcomers. “The Pouch is still very coveted a year after its debut, which is not always the case with some It bags,” notes Cooper. “Bottega bags in neutrals — black, Fondant (dark chocolate) and Cammello (tan) — are in high demand, and are the most reminiscent of pre-Lee styles like the Veneta Hobo. If you’re looking to capitalize on your recent investment, I also suggest you sell your Arco or Cassette.”