Luxury rules

  • Opinion
  • Sunday, 28 Nov 2010

Pre-owned bags can fetch a hefty price, and are better buys than fakes, if they are of the right brand.

ANYTHING below Hermes and Chanel is rubbish.” I burst out laughing. I am in a well-known consignment/second-hand boutique and talking to the owner on whether gently-used/pre-owned handbags were doing well, and she comes out with that gem.

She adds that, no offence to the other brands, the fact remains that when it comes to resale value, if it’s an Hermes Birkin/Kelly or Chanel, whatever the item, you cannot mark it any less than what it’s worth. And you’ll probably get more than the marked price because it is all about branding, branding, branding.

How do these luxury brands do it?

Apart from the fact that they are synonymous with the word “luxury”, their attention to detail, craftsmanship and their fiercely-guarded “name” allow them (pardon the pun) the luxury of setting a price because there will always be a willing buyer.

When a luxury brand allows itself to be hijacked, mass-marketed and reduced to nothing more than a mere symbol, no one is going to bother paying top dollar for it, especially when it has been used.

You think your “limited edition” bag from whichever well-known luxury label will sell? Think again.

Limited editions appeal to a certain market segment, one that can obviously afford something like RM30K for an exotic skin, furry, prickly, whatever. This market segment does not shop for pre-owned goods unless – and here you have it – it’s a Birkin or Chanel in a hard-to-find colour, material or design.

The average shopper is not going to drop even RM15K on your limited edition piece.

Then there is something called knowledge and appreciation of a brand. In this part of the world – and most likely quite a number of other places – people only recognise certain brands, the ones you tend to see everywhere.

So you may have a unique or beautiful piece by a brand known for its amazing leather or craftsmanship, but if it doesn’t have some logo plastered front and centre, or is not recognised by the majority, it won’t sell either.

If bags are just bags to you, and you never want to sell them, this is not an issue. If, however, you start getting bored with your bags, and want to sell them so as to buy more bags or just for quick cash, it won’t be as easy as dropping them off at a consignment boutique and expecting a cheque within a month.

If you want something that appreciates and will always go up in value, Hermes and Chanel are your best options. Their prices keep going up and they never go on sale.

However, bear in mind that I am talking handbags here. Watches come under a completely different category.

Nowadays, you can find re-sale and consignment stores everywhere. And while not all of us can drop RM10K minimum for a used bag, there are plenty of other brands which you can pick up for a song.

I would advocate buying pre-worn/gently-used bags rather than fakes any time. I fail to see what value one gets from wearing imitation when you can spend the same amount, or even less, on a used item.

Some people may scoff at this, but seriously, it’s more contemptible wearing fake. You’re supporting child labour, slavery, human trafficking, Third World working conditions, terrorism, drugs, and God knows what else.

A little checklist if you’re going bargain hunting at these boutiques.

First, shop around. There are several of them and some may have better prices or choices. Familiarise yourself with the brand of your choice, and check the styles and prices in the namesake boutiques so you can make a comparison. If a bag you like is sold at the latter and marked higher outside, you might as well get it there.

Ask for certification. Luxury brands have little cards with serial numbers that match the numbers in the bag. This identifies the real deal from a knock-off.

Don’t listen to anyone’s opinion but your own when it comes to buying because if you were to regret an expensive purchase, it had better be because you wanted it and not because someone else said you should buy it.

Where to shop? Popular boutiques include Luxury Vintage (Jalan Maarof, Bangsar, and Great Eastern Mall, Kuala Lumpur), Attic and Scoop (both in Plaza Damas, KL).

There are probably several more, but it just happens that I like these three because I’ve actually sold my bags to them and gotten a crash course in buying, selling and identifiying the real thing. Dzireena Mahadzir was not given any bags or hefty discounts for this column and is not hinting for any, either.

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