- Most sought-after handbags have matched performance from shares.
- Chanel bag that cost £1,000 in 2004 now worth £3,000.
- Bags from Hermes, Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton have doubled in value.
- Novice buyers warned market is awash with fakes.
A vintage handbag is more than a luxurious accessory to swing on the arm.
It can also prove an attractive investment. Over the past decade the value of the most sought-after handbags has risen by an average of 8 per cent a year – matching the annualised returns of the FTSE All-Share Index.
Top performers include the ‘Medium Classic Flap Bag’ from designer label Chanel. This is now worth £3,000 but cost less than £1,000 in 2004.
Other handbags that have seen prices rise more than twofold include those by Hermes, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Fendi and Emilio Pucci.
Even less well-known names – such as Renaud Pellegrino and Halston – whose bags could have been bought a decade ago for as little as £30 can now fetch double this price.
Reetu Rai, 34, from Windsor in Berkshire, loves luxury handbags and has a collection of a dozen designer names.
The data analyst and designer enjoys them so much she has even started designing and making her own under the label Cataleya London.
Reetu says: ‘The elegance and feel of a top handbag speaks out. You can really feel the detail and level of craftsmanship.
‘Handbags play a vital role in fashion and vintage bags with timeless appeal will always be in demand – and so be valuable.’
Among Reetu’s modern favourites is a Kate Spade handbag recently bought for £300, a Louis Vuitton for £600 and a Michael Kors for £350. She does not know how much they might rise in value, but believes they will at least hold their price.
Reetu adds: ‘I buy handbags because I love them. This should be the driving force rather than the prospect of an investment return. But because they are issued in limited numbers, demand tends to outstrip supply and values of well-looked after bags will always remain strong.’
Although the modern handbag is associated with women’s fashion, the accessory was most common as a ‘man bag’ until the 20th Century – when fashion did away with pockets for dresses.
Over the past few years there has been growing recognition of the importance of the most iconic bags – particularly those from the 1960s onwards.
Yet with a rise in both demand and prices for the most sought-after handbags, the market is awash with fakes.
Novice buyers should stay clear of internet auction sites when looking for an authentic bag.
Most fakes are made of poor quality leather or are synthetic. Stitching is another sign of a phoney as designers pride themselves on faultless work.
Reetu says: ‘If the bag is cheap – and it looks too good to be true – then it probably is.
‘You are better off dealing with small specialist boutiques or auction houses than trusting to luck on the internet.
I want a Christian Dior ‘Lady Dior’ bag, but cannot afford the £1,500 price tag. With high-end fashion it is often not possible to buy what you want, but this is part of the love affair and appeal of the handbags.’
Auction houses such as Sotheby’s hold occasional vintage handbag sales, as does American-based auctioneer Heritage Auctions.
If you want to see your accessory rise in value then you should never take it out on the town – no matter how special the occasion – as investment quality handbags must be kept in pristine condition.
Bristol-based alternative investment trader Paul Fraser Collectibles has set up the Picollecta Rare Handbag Index showing how the value of the 20 most sought-after designer name handbags has grown over ten years.
Not all have made money.
A 1960s Gucci handbag made of crocodile skin or a 1960s alligator skin by Nicholas Reich have not risen in value over the past decade – partly due to changing tastes as regards reptile hides.
Perhaps the most affordable high-climber in recent years has been the 1970s black leather and velvet Emilio Pucci handbag – up from £130 to £360 in a decade.
The most valuable handbag included in the Picollecta Rare Handbag Index is £6,500 for a 1990s Hermes Cognac bag.
Adrian Roose, a spokesman for Paul Fraser Collectibles, says: ‘Top fashion houses produce only a limited number of bags each year. Demand far outstrips supply, so prices rise. Never underestimate the fanaticism of collectors. Rare handbags are an important status symbol – a statement of style and sophistication.’