With the prices of new designer bags rising all the time, Bagsy offers a unique way for UK bag lovers to enjoy multiple styles and supplement their own collection of handbags and try out new brands.
The other way to save money on your bag habit is to buy pre-loved or second-hand bags. There are thousands of nearly-new bags on the market and you often have to be quick off the mark to get the latest styles but it is possible. If you are in the market for a pre-loved bag, how do you avoid buying a fake or paying too much?
Know the return policy
Find out whether there is an authenticity guarantee in place and check the refund policy. Also, think about how much practical recourse you have with the authenticity guarantee: do you have complete discretion to return an item if you think it is counterfeit? If you have to prove an item is fake, how are you expected to do that and is it achievable?
Buy from a reputable vendor and site
Vestiaire Collective have in-house authenticators who claim to be able to sniff out a fake. As with all authenticators, the process is only as reliable as the authenticator you get but this is likely a much safer road to take than purchasing from sites with no quality control. Furthermore, you can ask the seller questions, such as whether they can produce a receipt and an authenticity card. There are also sellers with a "Trusted Profile" golden ribbon who have a good track record in that they have repeatedly passed VC's sniff test and respond to buyers quickly. These elements can give you a lot of comfort when buying a pre-loved bag.
eBay also have a huge number of designer bags on sale but there is no authentication process or quality control. We would only recommend using eBay if you are a fairly experienced buyer (both with eBay and buying designer bags). Even if the seller guarantees authenticity and you find that the item is fake, getting compensated for this can be difficult in practice. eBay allows you to open a dispute but you will have to obtain proof that the item is fake, which might mean going to the designer directly and asking for written confirmation of this. This is hardly feasible - we can't see Chanel drafting a note to confirm your bargain eBay purchase is fake. In fact, they might seize your counterfeit item on the spot and then you will have no proof at all. There are authentication services out there who will look at the bag for a price before you buy but it is hard to say how good they are. Some sellers have been known to post pictures of a genuine item on their listing but then send out a poor quality counterfeit. We would recommend only going the eBay route if you have a lot of confidence in the seller and have done your research on them and the item you are buying.
Other reselling platforms include The Luxury Closet, Portero and Christie's. As none of these are located in the UK, it is worth investigating the price of international shipping and other hidden costs before you buy.
Know the bag's condition
If you're buying online and can't examine the bag in real life, find out as much as you can about its condition. Ask the seller to disclose any faults, for example, marks and scratches on the hardware, leather or main body of the bag and the interior. Check with them that all the zips and buckles are working. It also helps to see pictures of the corners of the bag as these often show signs of wear. Also ask if you can see high resolution photos of the bag and all the faults so you can judge for yourself whether you are willing to accept it in its current condition.
Know the retail price of your item
Check the price of buying your item new to avoid paying too much for a second-hand bag. There is no hard and fast rule for how much you should be paying for a pre-loved bag as it depends on the condition and rarity. Do your research on various sites to get a sense of what the bag is worth on the open market. Some pre-loved bags go for more than they retailed for because they are scarce. Once you have done your homework, decide how much you would be willing to pay for a given bag.
Buy from a bricks and mortar consignment store
Buy in person from a consignment store. It helps to be able to see the actual bag you are buying so you can see its real condition.
Get to know designer bags for yourself
We would recommend only buying pre-loved bags once you own a couple of real designer bags bought from directly from the designer if at all possible. Often, it is easier to detect a fake once you are used to the feel, smell and quality of an authentic designer bag. It doesn't even need to be a bag in the same style or by the same designer and it means that with some fakes, you will be able to tell straight away that a bag is not real. It is more difficult if you have never owned and held a designer bag.
We hope that we have offered you some helpful tips on how to purchase pre-loved second-hand designer bags. If all this seems a little too stressful, always buy brand new or borrow from Bagsy where authenticity is guaranteed. All our current items are purchased brand new direct from retailers.