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The Ultimate Guide to Buying Pre-Loved Handbags

Looking to add a pre-loved designer handbag to your wardrobe? Whether you’re replacing your everyday handbag or simply looking for an investment piece, buying a secondhand designer handbag is always an exciting time.

If you still need persuading that a pre-loved handbag is the best choice for you, check out 6 reasons why you should choose a pre-loved designer handbag. But before you start scrolling for the perfect bag, here are some useful tips to help you make the best possible decision.

Girl with pink trousers sat on white bed sheets with an apple laptop on her lap and a coffee in her right hand.
Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

The Search: Buying pre-loved handbags online

Many people start their search on auction sites like eBay, but it can be difficult to decipher which sellers are genuine and which individuals are selling counterfeit bags. In 2008, eBay was instructed to pay $63 million worth of damages to Louis Vuitton because of the number of counterfeit sellers on eBay that were selling fake Louis Vuitton bags.

Instead, it’s recommended to find a dedicated website that specialises in selling pre-loved designer items and that has knowledge of the industry — plus clear and helpful customer service. It’s important that sellers are knowledgeable of all authentication techniques, and that they keep up to date with any updates to brand authentication, like updated serial numbers or new styles of heat stamping. For more information on what authentication teams lookout for, check out our guide to authenticating Louis Vuitton.

Authenticity: How to choose the right handbag seller

One of the most important aspects to get right when buying pre-loved handbags is whether you are buying the real deal. When you’re committing a high amount of money to a secondhand item, you’re also placing a high level of trust in the seller. You’re trusting that their claim of the origin of the bag is correct, and is, for example, an authentic Chanel, Hermès or Prada, etc.

Close up photo of two leather stamps. The first reads, "LOUIS VUITTON, PARIS, made in France". The second reads, "SR2172".
Stamp and date code on a Louis Vuitton bag.

Whether you’re finally buying your dream bag, adding to your collection or simply hoping to choose an investment piece — if the handbag isn’t actually authentic, you risk losing thousands.

Any online seller of secondhand designer handbags should clearly display an authenticity guarantee, but other critical points to look for when choosing a company to buy from include…

  • Easy to locate contact details
  • A clear returns or exchange policy
  • Positive customer reviews on sites like Trust Pilot
  • A clear social presence on sites like Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

If a website does not have these important details in place, it is best to avoid them and keep your money safe.

Condition: What are the Grade Ratings of Designer Handbags?

Like all other secondhand, pre-loved or vintage items, it’s important to look at the grade rating of the handbag that you’re looking to purchase. Sometimes the bag interior will have signs of heavy use or ink stains, but the exterior is immaculate.

These are the usual grades used for pre-loved designer handbags…

  • As New or Unused: The handbag will be in a pristine or immaculate condition with no signs of wear.
  • Excellent: Very minimal signs of use.
  • Very Good: Signs of light use, there may be minor scratches on hardware, or scuffing on bag corners.
  • Good: General signs of use, for example, scuffing, scratches, etc.
  • Fair: The handbag may have more noticeable imperfections, such as exterior marks, tears or larger stains.
Understanding the condition grading is important when buying Pre-Loved Handbags. The gold turn-lock on this Birkin bag has very light scratching.
A Hermès Birkin Bag with ‘Very Good’ condition grading. Note the very minor scratches on the hardware.

The condition of the bag will reflect on the price, so if you’re happy to accept a few tiny ink stains on the interior lining, you could expect to receive a sizeable price reduction on some very covetable handbags.

Need more photos? Just ask! Any reputable seller will be more than happy to provide you with any further photos or detailed shots to give you peace of mind before making a purchase.

Future Value: Buying Pre-loved Handbags as an Investment

The most expensive designer handbag brands have a number of bags that have become very collectable and highly covetable. Because bags like the Hermès Birkin or Chanel Double Flap are so highly sought after, their value remains high and it can even increase year on year.

Featured Image | Photo by Jess @ Harper Sunday on Unsplash

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