How to buy an investment bag on a budget

Saturday, 18 May 2013

I love a beautifully made bag and believe in it's transformative powers. I spend far too much time looking at gorgeous bags online ( and in stores when time allows) and have often found exceptional bargains. More recently, I went on a quest for a proper investment bag on a budget and was very happy with the outcome. Since then, I've been looking forward to sharing some of my tips on the blog. Whilst I am by no means the authority on designer bags, I have spent more time researching them recently than I have on my engineering CPD and so it is fair to say I have a few useful ideas.  Here is a snapshot of the 'what', 'where', 'how' and 'when' of investment bag hunting. I'm assuming that if you are reading this post, you have already convinced yourself of the 'why'?! :)

What?: Buying a designer item purely because of its label is wrong. You should only buy something you genuinely like. So whilst pondering the 'what', consider the styles, colours and materials that you like. Based on these choices, develop a specification for your ideal bag. I believe that if it is something you are hoping to invest in, it should be versatile, suit your personal style and durable. So, I'd steer away from snakeskins, for example, unless you were willing to take extremely good care and were prepared for some wear on the material.  Once you've developed the specification for your ideal bag, you should review what is available on the market. Typically, whilst talking investment bags, you are thinking Hermes, Chanel, Mulberry, Valentino, Balenciaga etc. However, more accessible brands like Fossil, Radley and Osprey etc are also good bets. Don't limit yourself to big labels although big labels do retain their value better. Even high street brands like Zara and Topshop often come up with some exceptionally good designs (often designer inspired). Review what is out there and home in on the brand of your choice. I chose a Mulberry Alexa because of its homegrown British feel, its youthfulness, top notch quality and practicality.

Where?: There are plenty of options for where to buy your bag including independent designer stores, factory outlets and designer villages like Bicester, shops like Harvey Nichols, online treasures like Net-a-Porter , Outnet, My Wardrobe etc. One of my favourites is TK Maxx; they stock Valentino, Gucci, Fendi etc at up to 80% off!! eBay, charity shops and vintage stores are also good bets. I'd recommend eBay buying guides to help eliminate fakes. Sites like Achica and Secret Sales also do great vintage sales where you can find Louis Vuitton, Chanel. Hermes etc at relatively bargain prices.

How?: Assuming you now have a sense of what style you want and what brands you like, it is good to go and have a play. Visit the stores that stock what you like and get a feel for bags first hand. Photos are sometimes deceptive and you also need to assess factors like craftsmanship, comfort and safety. Make notes of what you like for reference. For example, I went to a Chanel store to get a feel of the 2.55 but it not move me at all! I admit Chanel was a little beyond my budget but I wanted to see what the fuss was all about. On the other hand, I was completely smitten by a beautiful inky blue snakeskin Bayswater by Mulberry. I chose not to buy it purely because of the delicateness of the material. The bottom line is that you must be objective at all times in order to not regret your decision.

When?: Sale season d'oh! On a more serious note, you need to shortlist what you are after well in advance and confirm your sale stalking strategy. I find the post Christmas sales the best bet. If you choose to buy online, sites like Outnet and Net-a-Porter allow you to save your favourites and I'd recemmond doing that so you don't get lost in the sale jungle. From my personal experience, duty free shopping in the January sales are absolutely brilliant and will give you an extra 20% on top of any existing sale price. I haven't found a single place that has been able to match the price I paid for my Alexa, not even eBay!

Finally, don't get carried away by fads and celeb trends. Ask yourself if you really like your purchase and be brave enough to return something you do not like.

What do you think of my bag buying tips? Have I missed something that you would like to share with my readers? Happy bag hunting! Ann x

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