Investment Dressing: 7 Tips for Designer Shopping

So, you’re craving an iconic handbag but the price would murder you financially. Sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants. Sigh. If you must, read these expert tips before you splurge.

Swing for the fences: Big names, big returns.
“Chanel, Hermès, Louis Vuitton – the major luxury brands retain their value the most,” says Julie Yoo, owner of Miss You Vintage in Toronto, the go-to destination for Hollywood stylists. “That gorgeous dress you bought from a local designer in Italy? Without a familiar label, it will take longer to find a buyer who shares your taste and size.”

Liquid Lunch: How large is the market?
Jewellery, timepieces and handbags will fit most anyone who wants to buy them. The larger your market, the more liquidity you have, meaning you can probably sell your item more easily. For example, Kiara Cooper, Authentication & Brand Compliance Manager at TheRealReal.com, a luxury on-line re-seller says a Chanel wallet on chain can sell for up to 94 percent of its retail price.

Be a “Bag Lady”.
According to Louise Cooper, owner of The Cat’s Meow in Toronto, a fashion mecca for local and international socialites and vintage fashion lovers, buying a new Hermès Birkin or Kelly handbag requires first being accepted to the brand’s elite waitlist, followed by a long wait. A re-sale version allows the buyer to skip the queue. Instant gratification is a privilege worth paying for. “A Birkin or Kelly can actually resell for a higher price than what you would pay for a new one,” says Louise.

Mint Condition = Pristine profits.
Condition is the most important factor when it comes to getting top dollar, advises Louise. A mint-condition handbag commands double the price of one in merely good condition. And packaging matters. An Hermés scarf gets a price boost if it comes with the brand’s signature orange box. With Chanel, “Classic colours and caviar leather can be priced closer to retail if the condition is excellent or pristine,” according to Kiara.

“I’ll take mine rare.”
That Gucci Dionysus bag with all the trimmings commands a higher price, up to 80 percent of retail, according to Kiara. “Coveted seasonal editions of the Louis Vuitton Twist maintain the highest value,” she says (up to 86 percent of retail). According to Louise, the most prized bags in Toronto tend to be neutral shades, yet Hermés’ Birkins and Kellys remain the exception: “To get a new exotic skin is almost impossible and resale prices reflect that.”

Ask and you may receive.
Consignment fees eat into your profit, but they’re negotiable. Resale experts price items based on extensive research including market trends, past sales data, comments on consumer forums, auction catalogues, not to mention a deep client rolodex to generate fast sales. “Prices are not arbitrary,” says Julie. “There’s always a market for luxury items such as a Chanel 2.55 bag or a Cartier Tank Française watch.” Nevertheless, if your item is extra-special and generates social buzz, or you’re a steady client, it’s worth asking for lower commission fee.

The Golden Rule: “5 & 20”.
“To get the most return on your investment, you must sell the item within its first five years while the style is still relevant,” says Julie. “Otherwise, wait 20 years at which point the item gains vintage value. Too many sellers make the mistake of holding onto an item until it’s outdated, but not yet vintage, and at that point, no one wants it.”

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