You may be wondering how to determine if your handbag is vintage or not. A lot of us have old handbags that we have an excess of, or maybe even just hoping one day the bag reaches a point where it’s considered vintage in order to sell for a profit. ‘
The general rule used to be that a handbag would become vintage after 20 years, but less than 100. However, the rules of handbag evaluation have changed, and now a handbag only needs to be 10 years old to be considered vintage. In order for a vintage purse to be valuable, the item should showcase the best qualities from the era it was produced.
In this article, you’ll learn that there are some variances in what is classified as vintage. We’ll cover the age more in-depth below and also go over some of the best handbags that many would classify as vintage. Remember, used doesn’t mean vintage. Read on to learn the qualifying factors.
How Old Does a Handbag Have Be to Be Considered Vintage?
As stated above, it used to be any handbag over 20 years old. However, the market has shifted towards classifying anything over 10 years fall into the category of vintage.
Handbags differ in the sense that a lot of items don’t become sought after until 20 to 40 years after they were manufactured. So, go looking through your closest (or your mom’s) and see if you have any old hidden handbags that could be worth a large sum of money.
Anything over 100 years old is no longer vintage but is considered an antique instead. However, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about that because many of the sought-after designers began their journeys in the early to mid-1900s. So, we are still quite a way out from hitting that threshold.
How Can You Tell If a Purse Is Vintage?
Quality – Overall, the quality should be incredibly high-end. The seams need to be even and not irregular; none of the fabrics should be frayed or torn. The biggest brands strive for excellent quality control, which means the bag should reflect that. If it’s in poor condition, it may technically be vintage, but it will not be desirable, or it could indicate a knock-off or some NewChic review handbag. Here are some of the best handbags to invest in that you know will one day become vintage.
- Interior Lining – Many vintage handbags will use high-quality silk or other desirable materials, not suede or other rougher fabrics for the interior. It should not have any discoloration, irregularity or roughness; it should be smooth and even.
- Real Leather – They should have real vintage leather, not imposter fabrics. A big indicator of genuine leather is the fact it will have a strong scent. You can also tell authenticity by the condition of the edges. It should be intact with almost no rips or tears because leather is a very durable fabric.
- Brand – Big-name designers will have logos somewhere on the bag; the brand depends on the location of this. If you can find the brand name, you’ll have an easier time determining what collection it comes from. This makes the search easier much easier to dig for information on if the bag is vintage.
- Designers Website – The best way to be certain is to go through catalogs of past purses made by the designer. This will allow you to make some easy comparisons. A lot of new handbags can resemble older ones, so it’s important to study the finer details and determine if you have the same item or something newer.
Determining if a bag is vintage is more than just the age the seller tells you. There are some indicators from the bags themselves. While older, poor conditioned bags may not meet all these standards, it’s a very good stepping stone, especially for ones that are of good to excellent quality.
These are wonderful things to know when teaching my child to be a fashion designer.
What Makes a Handbag Classic?
Deciding on what classifies a handbag as classic is incredibly objective in the fashion industry. Tastes vary from person to person and from year to year. Classic to many people would be something that remains relevant throughout the years or something that became an icon.
Some characteristics of a classic handbag include:
- Clean, simplistic design – Something that is wearable – and complements – a wide range of fashion styles.
- Timeless – Again, something that can pair with contemporary fashion, vintage, or nouveau.
- Well-built and holds its value – Classic handbags stand the test of time, both in terms of what fashions they pair with and how long they last.
- Evergreen style – While a classic bag can certainly belong in a specific season, some of the best can be worn any time of year.
In short, a classic bag doesn’t go out of style from year to year. You won’t see it in the discount bin after a season. Sometimes, a classic bag becomes a classic from a particular time, era, or personality. For instance: Hermès bag, The Kelly, made famous by Grace Kelly, an American actress turned Princess of Monaco. Princess Grace concealed the early signs of her pregnancy by holding a Kelly bag over her bump. It became an instant sensation and, like Grace Kelly herself, a timeless classic.
Below I’ll list the top three best vintage handbags. Each one is highly desirable and was either an original icon of the designer or made famous by a celebrity. They are all considered classics in the eyes of the fashion industry.
What Are the Best Vintage Handbags Out There Right Now?
There are enormous amounts of desired vintage handbags. However, some are more notable and sought after than others. We’ll cover a few of them below, including the cost of each one in this day and age.
As mentioned previously, this bag had international fame, thanks to Grace Kelly. While the bag’s surge in popularity was certainly due, in part, to Princess Grace, this bag is also sought after today for the classic design itself.
Hermès had already been a fashion icon before the late 1950s. The bag is not just a simple fashion accessory but a piece of art and history. Some characteristics of the bag are:
- Size: The bag comes in six different sizes; 25cm, 28cm, 32cm, 35cm, 40cm, and 50cm.
- Shape: It’s got a lovely trapezoid shape
- Features: Two triangle-shaped gussets, one handle, two straps, and a stylish cutout flap.
- Colors: You can find vintage Kelly bags in various fun colors.
If you are looking into a vintage Kelly bag, make sure you know what year it was produced – or have an expert age it – because the style has remained relatively the same since its inception. Depending on the year it was produced, the bag will have a stamp on its handle.
As for estimated pricing, this timeless classic bag will run a minimum of $2000 for fair condition. Excellent condition recent vintages can run you in the tens of thousands like this black leather 2010 one at a whopping $35000. Hermes is known for its luxury, so it stands to reason all the vintage bags from them will come with a luxury price tag.
This magnificent bag premiered in 1955 – as the first women’s handbag with a strap – and has changed through the years, but only slightly. This classic handbag is highly sought after by collectors.
Characteristics of a Chanel 2.55:
- Size: Various sizes are available, but the original size was 6.4″ x 9.4″ x 2.9″.
- Shape: The 2.55 is rectangular and has remained that way since its creation; although some variations are out there, they are less desired. The classic look is the one that gets people excited.
- Features: A metal-only chain link strap, diamond quilt stitched pattern. Seven functional pockets. Simple “mademoiselle” turn-lock closure.
- Colors: Several colors are available; the classic interior is burgundy leather.
Chanel is known as a huge luxury brand, and this bag showcases that. It has excellent quality and craftsmanship. It was actually designed in the 1920s by Coco Chanel because she grew tired of having to carry her bag in her arms. She drew the idea from the straps on soldier’s bags.
The bag is named from when she made her comeback in the fashion industry and rereleased it. The date being February 1955. And in 2005, they released an exact copy of the original one in honor of the 50th anniversary under the name Reissue 2.55. This incredible bag has withstood the dramatic changes in the fashion industry.
The prices for these vintage bags are significantly lower than some of the other luxury brands. You can find decent condition bags as low as $1500. The older they are, and the better condition will make the price increase dramatically. The cheaper ones are a good buy if you don’t plan on reselling them and use them as a personal fashion statement instead.
Louis Vuitton Speedy 30
No list would be complete without a Louis Vuitton bag. This incredible bag was created in 1930. They engineered this bag to be the first in their lineup made specifically for daily use. This bag has an iconic look that’s held its own through the years.
- Size: The bag’s original size was 30 x 21 x 17 cm, but in the year 1959, Audrey Hepburn wanted something smaller. So, they create one in size 25cm. When people think of classic Louis Vuitton bags, this is usually the bag that comes to mind.
- Shape: The iconic doctor’s bag style shape.
- Features: The LV brand stamp/monogram on canvas with leather trim, two cow-hide handles, and gold-tone zipper and hardware.
- Colors: The classic brown coated canvas with LV monogram.
The price point for these gorgeous handbags is more affordable than Chanel, depending on the exact look you want. A quick search through eBay and other online resellers has many authentic ones for under $1000! Of course, you will find older versions to be higher up on the price, but not normally as expensive as the other two listed above.
If you plan on purchasing bags for reselling, a good option is the 2016 models. Though not quite vintage yet, when they hit that mark, the prices will increase. There is also a wide variety of colors and styles in the newer ones. You really can’t beat the iconic look from the original style, though!
If you have any of these in your closet, you may be able to make some cash. In fact, you may want some tips on organizing your closet so you can find any vintage bags that you may have.
As you can see, the world of vintage handbags can seem quite intimidating, especially if you aren’t even sure where to begin. This article is a good stepping stone in determining if your bag or one you want (or have in the attic!) is genuinely vintage. We’ve also given a pretty good start for some of the most iconic bags.
Remember, counterfeiting is a huge problem for designer bags. While you can search through eBay, it’s recommended you go through reseller websites that are specifically made for authentic vintage fashion items, such as Redbag or Vestiaire Collective. You can even try local resellers; being able to examine in person may be easier for you to determine authenticity.
So, have fun going through your closet and finding all those unused handbags. You never know what hidden treasures may have been under your nose this entire time!