My Guide to Buying Pre-loved Designer Bags – Top Tips To Avoid Being Scammed

guide to buying pre-loved designer bags and handbags

The only thing better than investing in a designer bag is finding one at a discount!  It’s a great idea in theory but the reality is that prices of designer bags increase year on year with some designer houses hiking up their prices two to three times a year (I’m looking at you, Chanel… something to do with price harmonisation?).  But, where there’s a will, there’s a way.  A solution?  Pre-loved.  I know, I know, it’s a bit daunting if you’ve never gone down this route before, but having purchased a pre-loved Celine bag in the past week and with a few pre-loved bags in my collection, I wanted to share with you my tips for buying pre-loved designer bags. 

The fear of being scammed is real – indeed some of the fakes are so good that even a trained pair of eyes can’t tell the difference from the real thing (ie. triple-A fakes).  It means you need to be a discernible shopper and arm yourself with a checklist of essentials so you don’t go in blind and risk disappointment further down the track.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen my newest #secondhandbutgrand purchase – my Celine Seau Sangle Bag.  The bag has been on my wishlist for months but after seeing Emma Hill nab her’s pre-loved in fantastic condition – the hunt was on.  Thankfully, I didn’t need to look for very long – a quick broadcast on my Instagram stories and many of you came back to me with pre-loved options.  It was the quickest turnaround – in less than 24 hours, I was the proud new owner of the bag that I scored from a local consignment store! It seems there are a fair few of us out there that don’t shy away from a secondhand purchase. I’ll be posting about the bag in a separate blog post soon (after all, it deserves its own time in the spotlight!), but for the purpose of today’s post, I’ll be sharing my tips for buying pre-loved designer bags to help you navigate your search for your dream bag.  

So let’s get crackin’.

#1 – Perform your due diligence

As with all spendy purchases, you need to do your homework. That means doing your research to get a lay of the land, comparing prices and getting a feel for the expected range based on condition and year of release and, if possible, popping into a retail store to try the item new so you can get a feel for the piece as well as the features that make it special. These days, there’s a wealth of knowledge available online with checklists of features that you need to look out for to work out whether the pre-loved designer bag you have your eye on is the real deal.

These can include:

  • the serial number (including its position, font and colour);
  • where the bag was made (sometimes a particular bag would have only ever been made in Italy and the label might say it was made in France);
  • the colour, font and position of the designer stamp on the exterior of the bag and the interior heat stamp;
  • particular features of the hardware;
  • the stitching.

Basic google searches will arm you with this information for a particular bag you’ve got your eye on, as well as trawling through forums such as The Purse Forum.

#2 – Ask for more photos

In order to assess authenticity, you’ll need to review good quality photos of the bag. Don’t be afraid to ask for more photos if you’re having trouble making your necessary assessments. I almost always ask for additional photos of the designer stamp on the exterior, close-ups of the hardware, as well as clear imagery of the corners on the base of the bag. Sellers will almost always accomodate these requests, and if they don’t – that’s a big red flag!

#3 – Buy from a reputed seller

I don’t consider myself a seasoned expert in the world of designer bags, so I tend to stick to the reputed sellers that offer authentication services and/or an authentication guarantee as part of the buying process. Vestiaire Collective is a store I’ve shopped from several times but there’s also Fashionphile and Farfetch. You’re looking for a seller that provides a ton of information and imagery and offers complete transparency about the bag. After all, they should have nothing to hide.

My most recent pre-loved designer bag purchase was via a Sydney-based consignment store, Trading In Style. They have their bags authenticated via Entrupy and each bag comes with a valid authentication certificate. Having never shopped from them before, the authentication provided me with the necessary level of comfort and it should be something that you seek if buying from similar consignment stores.

#4 – If in doubt – just don’t

And if you have any qualms – just don’t. It’s honestly not worth the trouble. More often than not, your instincts are probably right, and for the serious amount of money that designer bags command, whether pre-loved or not, it’s not worth spending your hard-earned cash to be potentially met with disappointment down the track.  While it used to be my go-to, I’m dubious of eBay now, and will generally avoid the free online listing sites like FB Marketplace – particularly for high-end items.  

I hope my guide was useful to any of you looking at buying pre-loved designer bags. Let me know if you’ve recently purchased a pre-loved bag recently and I’d love if you shared this with anyone who you think might find this handy!

Thanks again for stopping by.

P.S. My guide to buying a Gucci belt and my review of my Celine belt bag.

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