luxury handbag
Image Credit: Unsplash/Luthfi Ali Qodri

Dubai: From a quilted black Chanel purse to her mini Lady Dior bag, UAE-based French expatriate Marie-Claire DuPont treasures her luxury bags.

The 32-year-old real estate professional, has four designer bags now and is saving up for her fifth – an Hermes Kelly bag. But, for her, buying a luxury bag doesn’t mean breaking the bank. Even though DuPont invests in luxury bags, they are all pre-loved.

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"It’s like finding a treasure. It is top quality, often unique, and a fraction of the price. I make it a point every month to set aside some money for my designer bag purchase and look for bags that are in excellent condition, so they look as good as new,” she told Gulf News.

Luxury handbags have long been a coveted status symbol, but a shift in the fashion landscape is making preloved pieces more popular than ever for many like Dupont.

For many customers of luxury handbags, this trend transcends mere affordability; it's about embracing unique finds, timeless design, and sustainable practices, along with investment.

“Giving a pre-loved bag a new life feels way more sustainable than the alternative. It’s a win-win!" Dupont added.

In her free time, DuPont said she scrolls through the websites of the stores she shops from, so she doesn’t miss a deal.

“There are three stores I have found that offer excellent prices, so I keep their websites open on a tab, and regularly check them. Once, I found a barely used Prada bag for just Dh2,400,” she added.

We dove into the world of preloved luxury bags in the UAE, exploring the reasons behind their surge in popularity.

The Luxury Closet
Preloved Hermes bags on display at The Luxury Closet in Dubai. Image Credit: Supplied

Why preloved is the new chic

Treasure hunting: Preloved stores are a haven for unique finds. You might unearth a vintage Chanel flap bag or a limited-edition piece from Hermès that never made it to your local boutique. Preloved shopping is all about discovering one-of-a-kind pieces steeped in history.

Sustainable style: Luxury handbags are often crafted with exquisite materials and built to last. By giving a preloved bag a new life, you're reducing your environmental footprint and extending the lifespan of a beautiful piece.

Savvy investment: Certain preloved luxury bags, particularly those from iconic brands like Hermès and Chanel, can hold their value or even appreciate over time. Consider it acquiring a timeless piece with the potential for future returns.

Also read:

Preloved pros

Indian expatriate Anshu Yeshwant, who has bought several secondhand luxury bags, said: “I’ve bought a Chanel, Prada, a Birkin, and other bags. Sometimes we want to own a luxurious bag, but not spend as much. This is where pre-owned designer bags come in. You get designer brands sometimes at a fraction of the price or bags in excellent condition at 10 to 20 percent less.”

“There are quite a few shops in the UAE that offer excellent prices on bags. The cost of these bags is based on the usage condition and make of the bag,” the 20-year-old added.

Filipino expat Olga Barcelona, partner and head of operations at an advertising agency in Dubai, preloved bags collector, offered some valuable insights into how purchasing preloved luxury brands is an investment.

Barcelona said: “Preloved luxury bags are popular and a good investment because they are cheaper and you can resell these branded bags like Chanel bags at even a higher price or the same price as new even when they become vintage. I fancy preloved branded bags because of their classic appeal just like the caviar Chanel bags that are so much better than the new ones.”

Olga barcelona bags collection
Olga Barcelona's luxury bags collection from Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Celine and more. Image Credit: Supplied

Another Filipino luxury bag collector, Kim Barrameda, founder and managing director, of an events company in Dubai, invests in Birkin bags from Hermès, and the limited collections from Chanel and Louis Vuitton.

Barrameda said: “Preloved luxury bags are becoming popular because well-known Hollywood celebrities and famous influencers have acknowledged and become open to the public that they are using vintage and preloved bags. Fancy bags are a good investment, more than the luxury and joy it brings to a person. It becomes a status symbol for celebrities and influencers. I usually buy the rare pieces or the limited collection due to the value it holds in the future.”

Luxury bags are known to be a good investment due to its top-notch quality, rarity and elegant style, Barrameda pointed out.

“It will always and forever be, the value and appraisal from the top luxury brands keep increasing every year from the classic collections, seasonal bags and runway pieces. The resale value of certain brands becomes double or triple from the original price when it’s out of the market. Birkin and Kelly from Hermès are known to be a good investment, these are the famous models/collections that will stay in the market for the next generation to come. Their prices will never depreciate and will forever hold their value or even go higher in coming years,” she said.

Kim Barrameda
Kim Barrameda invests in Birkin bags from Hermès, and the limited collections from Chanel and Louis Vuitton. Image Credit: Supplied

Barrameda also noticed that certain brands give her a higher resale value.

“I only buy and collect rare pieces with a good resale value, as this becomes my investment. I bought quite a few from preloved shops like Hermès and Chanel with prices ranging from Dh10,000 to Dh100,000. I have a variety of collections from rare finds to runway pieces that become limited edition. So, I have more than 50 plus luxury bags in my treasure trove.”

As an avid buyer of luxury bags, Barrameda now can easily spot a genuine secondhand luxury bag. “If you happen to find a preloved bag that is barely used and looks like brand new, then it’s a great deal. I can spot genuine luxury bags based on detailed stitching, zipper serial numbers, logo placement, the authenticity card matches the serial codes in the bags and so on. Some of the major players in the market like Louis Vuitton have installed microchips in their luxury bags. Also, I am very particular as to where I purchase my preloved bags – only from a licensed company, guaranteeing their bags are authentic. If they sell fake bags, buyers can sue them and can claim 100 per cent cash back along with legal damages.”

Seasoned collectors reiterate the need to purchase preloved luxury bags from reputable sellers who authenticate their items.

“Look for authentication certificates like Entrupy, to make sure that your preloved luxury bags are genuine. I purchase preloved branded bags from La Luxurious here in Dubai and My Vintage Attire in Milan, as they are trusted sellers of preloved luxury bags.” Barcelona added.

What makes secondhand luxury bags popular?

Maya Azzi, chief brand officer, The Luxury Closet (TLC), shared insights as a seller in the market: “Secondhand luxury bags are popular for their high quality and amazing pricing. Additionally, the retail cycle for luxury bags is short, making it difficult to find certain items launched, after a few months. This scarcity drives people to the secondhand market to find those elusive pieces.”

Meanwhile Rosalie Valdezco, chief executive officer, La Luxurious Store, explained: “Secondhand luxury bags are popular since they enable sustainable fashion at good prices. It attracts everyone who dreamed to own a luxury bag or elevates the people who collect certain types of bags, which will only be available in secondhand luxury stores.”

Both industry experts think secondhand luxury bags make for a sensible investment option.

“Designer bags, especially from brands like Chanel and Hermès, are excellent investments. They appreciate in value, sometimes even outperforming gold and the stock market. Their timeless appeal and limited availability ensure a steady demand,” Azzi said.

“As time passed, the prices of the designer bags gradually increases more than gold,” Valdezco added.

Talking about brands with the best resale value, Azzi said : “The bags with the best resale value are undoubtedly from Hermès. Their limited quantities and quota system creates high demand, allowing buyers to skip waitlists and find incredible preloved pieces.”

"Designer bags, especially from brands like Chanel and Hermès, are excellent investments. They appreciate in value, sometimes even outperforming gold and the stock market. Their timeless appeal and limited availability ensure a steady demand.”

- Maya Azzi

Valdezco added that other than Hermes, Chanel and Louis Vuitton also give excellent resalue. “They are the most sought after brands. Given that these brands show very high profitability, as the prices are increasing and considered high commodity prices without decreasing.”

Sia of La Luxurios
Rosalie Valdezco's daughter Sia, model of La Luxurious Store in Dubai, carrying Chanel bag. Image Credit: Supplied

Snag a steal, skip the fake!

Preloved luxury bags are having a moment, the exciting trend comes the worry of ending up with a fake. Fear not, fashionistas! This guide, based on the wisdom of Dubai's preloved luxury experts, will equip you to spot the real deal and avoid counterfeits.

How do you detect original bags from fakes? Azzi said that authentic stores dealing with secondhand luxury goods are very careful about genuine items. “Authenticity is our top priority at The Luxury Closet. We have an extensive in-house authenticity team dedicated to ensuring every item is genuine.”

“If your eye is untrained, always buy from a trusted source. Some tips include examining the stitching, the quality of the leather, and any errors in the logo,” Azzi explained.

Valdezco added: “We use an authentication device provided by Entrupy, which is also used by the Department of Economic Development of the Emirate of Dubai (DED) to combat counterfeit items.

“Tips for customer to spot genuine from fake is to always look for leather quality, stitchings, brand stamps and serial codes in case available. To be more precise, ask for authentication of the item before purchasing and only buy from a well-known company that sells genuine products.”

Valdezco added that for anyone who has doubts about a secondhand luxury bag purchase they have made, they authenticate it for a fee. “We authenticate bags from the general public with a price range of Dh150 that includes the certification.”

What is the priciest bag that they have sold?

Azzi said: “The priciest bag we've sold at The Luxury Closet is a preloved Hermès Rouge Braise Porosus Crocodile Birkin 35, encrusted with 18k white gold and diamonds amounting to Dh229,000. Our collection is unparalleled, boasting hundreds of bags and thus, offering a uniquely extensive selection.”

And, Valdezco added: “The priciest bag that has been sold recently in our store is Chanel classic flap amounting to Dh18,000.”

Most-sought after brands

According to Azzi sought-after brands can vary by month depending on hot trends. “Recently, we've seen a surge in popularity for Balenciaga and Miu Miu, while classics like Prada, and Chanel always remain in demand. The year started with high interest in brands like The Row and Jacquemus.”

“The most sought-after branded bags sold in La Luxurious store are Louis Vuitton and Chanel,” adds Valdezco.

Why should one buy a preloved designer bags?

“Buying preloved designer bags is a sustainable choice, giving items a second life. In Dubai, one person's closet can offer over 300 items, making it possible to find spectacular treasures. Additionally, there's a growing appreciation for vintage pieces, with many seeking unique designs from the 1990s. Shopping preloved isn't just about the discount; it's about finding special, one-of-a-kind items,” said Azzi.

It can also help you find a limited, sold out, or vintage classic edition if you are a collector. “Preloved goods stores will always have limited pieces and mostly phased out from brick and mortar stores,” explained Valdezco.