Bags: What are the best investment pieces?

The Hermès Birkin has long been a classic choice for bag fashionistas to invest in.
The Hermès Birkin has long been a classic choice for bag fashionistas to invest in.
Mat Szwajkos/Getty Images

Ah, women and handbags. Some of us stockpile them, snapping up the latest styles straight off the runway, and some of us are still dragging around the same tired tote bag we had in college. But, whether you have two or 200 purses, there will probably come a point in your life when you feel compelled to kick things up a notch. Yes, it's time for an investment bag.

To the uninitiated, this might sound a little scary. But "investment" doesn't necessarily mean you have to break the bank. If you don't have $35,000 lying around for a Hermès Birkin bag (or even $700 for a Coach hobo), we'll show you how to invest in a stylish yet classic bag that will last you for years to come.

 

What should my investment bag look like?

We all have different styles, tastes and budgets, so there aren't too many hard-and-fast rules when it comes to investment bags. But we will lay down the law on this one (with apologies to all the vegans out there): It's gotta be leather. Investment bags are not made of canvas or nylon. Crocodile and python are great for those who have the means, of course, but the rest of us should stick with high-quality, sturdy leather. Shape, color and hardware are all up to you. Black or brown shades are best for versatility and longevity, but if you're dying for eggplant or fire-engine red, who are we to stop you?

Does it have to be designer?

Well, yes. We hate to be snobby, but "investment bag" pretty much implies "designer." Of course, there are many, many designers out there, so you don't have to lay out thousands of dollars to get something special. You do want your bag to be stylish and well-made, but don't worry about following the latest fads -- and skip the flashy logos, unless you want your bag to be screaming "2010" several years down the road. Hard-core "bag ladies," with their limited-edition Gucci satchels, might look down their noses at your oh-so-pedestrian Coach purse, but don't worry about them -- if you love it, and it fits your budget, go for it.

Should I buy an "it" bag?

When you're looking for a bag, you might be tempted to go for the latest fad -- the "it" bag, if you will. And that's fine, if you already have a closetful of investment bags. But -- we'll say it again -- if this is going to be your one major bag, ignore the trends and go for a classic. If you have the funds, you can't go wrong with one of these iconic handbags:

  • Hermès Birkin
  • Hermès Kelly
  • Louis Vuitton Speedy
  • Gucci Jackie
  • Lady Dior
  • Chanel 2.55
  • Tod's D Bag

Is it really an investment?

The word "investment" might lead you to believe that you'll automatically make good money off your Fendi tote if you sell it in 10 years. But let's face it -- most handbags don't increase in value, especially if you use them every day. Sure, if you snag a vintage Chanel 2.55 bag for $15 at a thrift store and then unload it on eBay, you're going to make a pretty penny. You'll also see a hefty profit on a limited-edition Balenciaga motorcycle bag that has a months-long waiting list. In most cases, though, maybe it's best to think of the "investment" as more of a lifestyle lift (or reputation booster) than a moneymaking proposition.

Should I use my bag every day?

If you're truly using a bag as an investment, relegate it to special-occasion status. But if this is your one big splurge, definitely buy a bag that you're going to use all the time -- what's the point, otherwise? So, you probably shouldn't go for a tiny, bejeweled clutch -- you want to look fabulous, of course, but you also need to consider function. Think long and hard about what you want this bag to look like and what it'll be hauling on an everyday basis. Do you want it to fit tightly over your shoulder, or do you like a longer strap? Do you want lots of pockets or a more streamlined look? Slouchy or structured? All these are important things to consider when you're shelling out for a bag that could last for 20 years.

Related Articles

More Great Links

Sources

  • Cox, Caroline. "Bags of Class: Why do Women Love Handbags So Much?" Oct. 7. 2007. (Accessed July 15, 2010)http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-486265/Bags-class--women-love-handbags-much.html
  • Gordon, Daphne. "Money Bags." Nov. 24, 2006. (Accessed July 15, 2010)http://www.thestar.com/living/shopping/article/114485--money-bags
  • Hudson, Kate Davidson. "Classic Handbags Re-Created for Fall," June 30, 2010. (Accessed July 15, 2010)http://www.elle.com/Fashion/Fashion-Spotlight/Classic-Handbags-Re-Created-for-Fall/%28imageIndex%29/1/%28play%29/false
  • HuffingtonPost.com. "Hermès Birkin Bag No Longer Has a Wait List." April 26, 2010. (Accessed July 16, 2010)http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/26/Hermès-birkin-bag-no-long_n_552031.html
  • Martha Stewart.com. "Investment Handbags." (Accessed July 15, 2010)http://www.marthastewart.com/photogallery/investment-handbags?lnc=&rsc=lpg&lpgview=thumb&showComments=true
  • Sherman, Lauren. "Most Expensive Handbags." Forbes, May 24, 2006. (Accessed July 15, 2010)http://www.forbes.com/2006/05/23/luxury-handbags-fashion_cx_ls_0524feat_ls.html