Investing in a designer handbag is no small undertaking. The decision requires a lot of thought, savings and of course, research. Though don't fret, as the fashion experts here at Marie Claire, we have the inside knowledge of the best designer handbags available.
From Chanel to Fendi, Prada and more, luxury design houses have been creating coveted carry-alls for generations—for example, did you know Chanel's iconic flap bag was originally released back in 1955? And the Hermès Birkin bag first debuted in 1984?
In the years since their launch, these bags have not only gone on to become instantly-recognisable classics, but they have also increased in value, proving that spending on a timeless designer bag can be a lifelong investment.
In fact, Laura Fletcher, the Brand Director at Open for Vintage and all-around luxury handbag expert says Chanel's flap bag is one of the styles that makes the best investment. "The Classic Flap Bag from Chanel is a handbag that keeps its value very well," Fletched told Marie Claire. "The price of a Classic Flap rises by about 16% every year so it's a great style to buy as an investment piece."
As a trusted luxury resale marketplace, Open For Vintage has a wealth of knowledge on the kind of bags which are sure to retain not only their value but their relevance and popularity too. "Our consistent, most popular handbags are classic, iconic models from brands such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Gucci and Prada," Fletcher explained.
"We're seeing current spikes in sales for the 1980s-1990s Chanel Classic Flap Bags and Diana Flap Bags, as well as Gucci Bamboo Bags and Horsebit Bags, particularly models with the GG canvas."
If you're looking to invest in a classic handbag, that will never go out of style, the aforementioned brands are a great place to start. Afterall, there are several styles which have retained their popularity for decades. Fendi's Baguette bag is a perfect example, having recently celebrated its 25th year.
While the price tag on a new designer handbag can often be eye-wateringly high, Fletches says it can be useful to look to reputable resale sites and vintage sellers as a more cost-effective solution. "The amazing thing about resale is that you can buy vintage versions at approx. 40% less than new, making it an even more savvy purchase," she explains.
The best classic designer handbags:
Looking to invest in a classic designer handbag that you can keep for years to come? Keep scrolling for 10 timeless bags we believe are worth the investment.
1. Chanel Flap Bag
Originally debuted in 1955, the Chanel classic flap bag (also known as the 2.55) has retained its popularity for well over half a decade. The bag is undoubtedly an investment piece, which rises in price by about 16% a year.
If you're looking to invest in the style at a more affordable price point, our advice would be to check out reputable resale sites first. You can find great pre-loved options around at places like Open For Vintage or Sellier Knightsbridge for example.
2. Fendi Baguette Bag
Ever since Carrie Bradshaw uttered the words, "it's not a bag, it's a baguette," the Fendi Baguette bag has been immortalised in pop-culture (and in our hearts).
This year, Fendi celebrated 25 years of the iconic silhouette with a dedicated runway show in New York, heralding the item that's managed to retain its popularity for over two decades. The bag is popular on resale sites, so if you're looking for a pre-loved iteration make sure to check Vestiare Collective or Farfetch pre-owned.
3. Dior Saddle Bag
While it was originally released as a part of Dior's Spring/Summer 2000 collection, the saddle bag has experienced a resurgence of late thanks to its revival on the Autumn/Winter 2018 runway. Under Maria Grazia Chiuri's guidance, the saddle bag was reimagined for a new age in leather iterations as well as Dior's classic monogrammed canvas.
4. Gucci Jackie Bag
Originally released in the 1950s under a different name, the Jackie bag a rebranded twenty years later when first lady Jackie Kennedy was seen sporting the iconic item in the 1970s.
Gucci's former Creative director Alessandro Michele re-released the item as a part of the brand's Autumn/Winter 2020 collection, further solidifying its status as a timeless classic.
5. Hermes Birkin
According to Hermès, the idea for the Birkin bag was developed after actress Jane Birkin complained to former Hermès Executive Chairman Jean-Louis Dumas about not being able to find a bag big enough to fit all her belongings as a mother.
The item has since then become one of the most famous and coveted handbags in history. It is rumoured the waiting list for the iconic item can be up to six years.
6. Prada Cleo
Prada is undeniably a purveyor of incredible handbags. Over the years the luxury brand has released many memorable styles. While the rectangle Galleria Saffiano tote is a classic favourite, the Prada Cleo is an icon for the modern era.
Available in a number of shades and sizes, there is an iteration for everyone. Though the classic black or beige shades will make the most timeless investments.
7. Valentino Vlogo
As one of the newer bags on this list, in recent years the popularity of Valentino's VLogo range has eclipsed its previously popular rockstud.
The beauty of the VLogo range is that is it far less trend-led than the rockstud collection, meaning you can keep these classics bags for years to come without ever worrying that they'll go out of style.
8. Saint Laurent Le 5 à 7
Released in 2021, the Saint Laurent Le 5 à 7 is another newer kid on the block. While the bag has not been around for very long, its clean lines and sleek aesthetic have the timeless staying power of an instant classic.
We don't think this bag will ever go out of style.
9. Loewe Puzzle Bag
Released in 2015, under Jonathan Anderson's guidance, the Loewe puzzle bag has since become one of the brand's best-selling styles. Comprised of intricately assembled pieces, the puzzle bag has a very distinct aesthetic, which has come to be one of Loewe's signatures.
10. Bottega Veneta Cassette
Under Daniel Lee's reign, Bottega Veneta reinvented its signature intrecciato weave, playing with proportions to create supersized versions of the house's iconic style. And so the Padded Cassette bag was born.
Seen on everyone from Rosie Huntington-Whiteley to Victoria Beckham and Rihanna, the bag has been extremely popular over the last few years, solidifying its entry to the handbag hall of fame.
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Zoe Anastasiou is a Fashion Editor with over eight years of experience working across digital publications in New York, London and Australia. She has contributed to publications including Harper’s BAZAAR and ELLE Australia, and was the Fashion and Social Media Editor at Who What Wear UK before joining Marie Claire.
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