COVID Chanel and Hermès Handbag Madness… Is it Time to Look Elsewhere?

It’s been well reported that coveted Hermès and Chanel handbags have become even more scarce since the start of COVID. Prices have gone up, production is down due to lockdowns in Europe, and there’s unprecedented pent-up demand from consumers. Getting ahold of popular bags, such as Chanel’s classic flap as well as Hermès Kelly and Birkin bags is harder than ever.

Alternatives to Chanel and Hermes "It Bags" Graphic

Sky High Prices for Chanel Bags on the Pre-Loved Market

Prices for popular bags on pre-loved resale platforms are at all time highs. A classic Chanel medium double flap currently retails for 5,500 GBP. A quick scan on pre-loved resale platform Vestiaire Collective shows the same model in popular colours such as the beige clair or mega-hit colours like soft pink classic flaps selling for above retail.

Here’s an example of a classic Chanel medium flap in beige clair that sold for 4,600 GBP on 18 March 2021. That’s for a bag without a “full set,” and no authenticity card. 4,600 is also the price before shipping, authentication fees, and VAT of around 20% (if the buyer was in a different country than the seller).

A classic small flap in beige clair caviar leather sold for 4,788.23 GBP on 28 Feb 2021. The retail price is currently 5,040 GBP, a measly 5% discount. Another medium beige clair with silver hardware and caviar leather sold for 5,153.09 on 21 April 2021, and here’s yet another beige clair that sold for 5,218.92 on 17 February 2021.

Luxury Shoppers Return to Stores Feeling Super Spendy

London finally opened non-essential stores on 12 April 2021 and weeks later there are still long queues outside every Chanel and Hermès boutique and concession in town. There have also been reports of issues, or let’s just say, drama amongst impatient shoppers waiting in long lines to buy their luxury goods.

This begs the question, is this worth it, is this insanity part of owning a luxury handbag? Some SA’s are arranging private appointments so you’re not stuck waiting on the sidewalk, but this mad environment – in terms of prices, demand and limited stock, do I want to be part of this?

My answer – NO. I’m looking elsewhere until things “normalise.” Perhaps I’m making a mistake, but I prefer to shop with a bit of dignity and calm.

Alternative Bags to Chanel and Hermès

Mark Cross

If you’re seeking rich colours, high-quality leather, and heritage design, look at Mark Cross. This brand is often referred to the Hermès of America. Their bags are well-crafted and there are deals to be found on the pre-loved market. Their most iconic style is the Grace box bag, but I also love the Benchley as well as their rattan basket bags for summer.

While Mark Cross doesn’t have the same hype as Hermès, they’re worth considering if you’re after a specific colour but don’t want to splash out or spend the time tracking down a “unicorn” Chanel bag. You can find a mint condition pre-loved Mark Cross for well under 800 GBP rather than spend 4,000-6,000 on a flap bag. Save your money for that special day when you’re offered a Kelly 25. I think Mark Cross is a highly under-rated brand and somewhat secretly hope it will stay that way.

Shop New and Pre-Loved Mark Cross Bags

Pre-Loved Chanel Bags

Below is my selection of classic pre-loved Chanel bags all listed below 3,000 GBP. My advice is to think carefully and negotiate tactfully. Realise if you buy a seasonal bag or something in a non-leather fabric, you likely won’t get a premium value if you choose to sell the bag down the line. Keep in mind that a new rectangular mini currently retails for 3,210 GBP. Try and stay at least 50% below retail when buying pre-loved. Also remember that depending on the location of the seller you may have to pay import VAT, which isn’t added until checkout.

Shop Classic Chanel Bags Under 3,000 GBP

Seasonal Chanel Bags with Classic Silhouettes

Some of Chanel’s seasonal bags have silhouettes that are quite similar to the classic flap bags and don’t come with the super premium price tag. This opinion is debatable, as you won’t get the price appreciation that you see with classic flaps, but hear me out. If you’re looking bag to love and use, aren’t as concerned with resale potential and want to save a bit, check them out. I personally like the Filigree and the Chevron Statement Flap Bag.

Larger Chanel Bags

The Chanel jumbo, now referred to as the “Large Flap” bag on Chanel’s website is no longer the size du juor as the market is still mad for minis. If you need a bag that can you can use during the day and still take out to *some* more casual nighttime occassions, take a look at jumbos on the resale market.

Chanel Bags in Alternative Fabrics and Leathers

You can find great deals on Chanel classic flaps in patent leather and non leather fabrics like tweed and velvet. If you’re looking for a special occassion bag, or perhaps a specific colour that will only be used with limited outfits, it that doesn’t need to be hard-wearing. Have a look at tweed, velvet, and beaded bags.

Shop Seasonal and Non-Classic Flap Chanel Bags Under 3,000 GBP

Hermès Garden Party

This understated tote bag is easier to find new and can be purchased below retail pre-loved. It’s minimal but low-key quite elegant for day-to-day. In my opinion, it is limited to casual and daytime use. That’s why I prefer the Garden Party 36 so I’m no constantly wondering why I have Garden Party 30 rather than a Birkin 30 or a Kelly 28, which convert to both day and night. That said, I’ve seen some amazing photos of Instagram of Garden Party 30s out for a lady’s lunch.

Shop Pre-Loved Hermès Garden Party Bags

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