The brand has substantially increased their handbag prices by at least 60% - signaling a shift toward the secondary auction market.
Chanel Classic Flap Bag
Perhaps the most visible fashion brand in the world, Coco Chanel’s eponymous luxury house, Chanel, has decided to up the ante (again). Since November 2019, Chanel has made a steady effort to increase the value of their most beloved handbags with classics such as the small flap - seeing a 60% price jump to $8,200 and the larger version known as the 2.55 to $9,500 (up from $7,400 in June) according to Bloomberg and data compiled by the Jefferies Group. The move is seen as a direct sashay to chase rival house Hermes, who tops the charts in terms of price and desirability with their iconic Birkin and Kelly bags existing comfortably as the pinnacle of handbag eminence. Chanel is now zipping up tight against their fears of ubiquity with a strict new approach. Not only will global shoppers be forking over more cash for classics, customers will also be limited to buying one bag at a time in Paris stores with each customer only allowed to purchase one of each of the handbags per year. New Yorkers are working around a monthly limit for certain designs while Hong Kong and Shanghai report no restrictions as of yet.
Even more intriguing is Chanel’s continued decision to hold out on digital availability. The brand is one of the few who elect a long-standing policy against selling any handbags or clothes online through their website. Since the start of the pandemic, online sales have seen a renaissance of retail growth, a trend that Chanel has undoubtedly missed out on. Bloomberg notes that Chanel saw a 18% decline in revenue and a 41% slump in operating profit in 2020.
Will scarcity drive desire for Chanel’s top consumers? Only time will tell how their fresh-to-market exclusives will fare - some influencers are already citing a disconnect with the brand while others, like devout celebrities, will likely remain in Chanel’s private club. I suppose all who "want in" can expect to follow Marion Cotillard to the surface of the moon in a cloudy puff of Chanel No.5 as the fantastical television commercial envisions we can.
The secondary market has always noted a consistent love affair for vintage and discontinued designs and the advent of Chanel’s recent price hikes have allowed for an even more favorable shift toward online auctions. Online handbag and jewelry auctions offer an attractive option for scoring luxury goods - especially with timeless staples from Chanel making moves to become appreciating investment pieces.
We assembled a list of Chanel’s most desirable classics with tips for online auction shopping as well as the best keywords to save in your Bidsquare profile to be alerted as soon as they pop up for sale:
First designed in the 1980s for Chanel by Karl Lagerfeld, the Chanel Classic Flap, also referred to as the 11.12 bag, is considered classic for a reason. The signature piece features points de bride stitches and quilting in lambskin leather. Special attention is given to the strap which flaunts an interwoven metal chain laced with leather (different from the 2.55 which is chain only). Based on the original 2.55 design, reimagined by Coco Chanel in 1955, the updated Lagerfeld version is iconic for the double 'c' logo lock that has global prowess as a sign of sophistication. If you see a celebrity wearing a Chanel bag, chances are it's the 11.12 classic.
Keep in mind that Chanel's Classic Flap comes in a range of sizes from mini to maxi - this is certainly something to look out for when searching upcoming auctions. Be sure to read the full description which usually includes measurements, comparable images and condition details.
Lot 693, Chanel Paris Double Flap Shoulder Bag, c. 1989. Estimate $4,000-$6,000. Coming up at auction January 22, 2022 on Bidsquare.
Buyers browsing on Bidsquare can also 'Inquire Now' to reach the auctioneer directly with any additional questions before purchasing through a Buy Now event or placing absentee or live bids during an auction - an added perk we recommend exercising.
Our suggested 'Saved Search Alert' Keywords: chanel, flap bag, double flap bag, chanel bag, quilted chanel, classic chanel, single flap bag
Named for the month and year (February, 1955) that Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel revisited her original 1929 design, the Chanel 2.55 bag still remains a household staple. Seen on famous influencers like Sarah Jessica Parker, the 2.55 was the first women's purse to include a shoulder strap - giving ladies the controversial freedom to make use of both hands when out in public.
Chanel Purple Quilted Distressed Patent Leather Jumbo Reissue Double Flap Bag with Gunmetal Hardware. Sold for $2,500 at Heritage Auctions (2015) on Bidsquare.
For those on the hunt for a bargain, stay open to more stylized options like alternative colors, limited edition fabrics or anything that might make the bag more niche. Can you rock a purple patent leather 2.55? Totally!
Our suggested 'Saved Search Alert' Keywords: chanel, 2.55 chanel bag, double flap bag, chanel bag, quilted chanel, classic chanel, single flap bag, 2.55 bag
Image Source: Getty / Edward Berthelot
Debuted in Chanel's 2011 Fall/Winter collection, the Boy bag was immediately embraced by the fashion world as a forever design. If you're shopping around for your first ever Chanel bag, this investment piece won't disappoint. The price increases we've seen recently certainly applies to this boxy beauty and bloggers predict they will only continue to rise.
Lot 62, Chanel Medium Checkerboard Boy Shoulder Bag, c. 2014. Sold for $4,063 at Cresent City Auction Gallery (2021) on Bidsquare.
Seen as a more edgy choice, the Boy blurs the masculine with feminine, giving off cool, confident vibes. It has been spotted on the red carpet and rocked by vibrant personalities such as Miley Cyrus.
Our suggested 'Saved Search Alert' Keywords: chanel, flap bag, double flap bag, chanel bag, quilted chanel, boy chanel, single flap bag, boy bag, chanel boy bag
Christopher Peterson/Getty Images. Ashely Olsen with a Chanel GST
You don't have to worry about fitting weekend warrior supplies in this spacious design. The Chanel Grand Shopping Tote doesn't look like a hulking bag but it's an urban favorite and guarantees a comfortable day out. Known as the GST for short, the style was discounted in 2015, which only made it more desirable. It tops our online auction list for this specific reason - simply walking into a store to buy it just isn't an option anymore.
Lot 96, Chanel Caviar Quilted Grand Shopping Tote GST Bag. Included in Consigned Designs Buy Now sale (2021) on Bidsquare.
Our suggested 'Saved Search Alert' Keywords: chanel, chanel bag, quilted chanel, caviar quilted, chanel gst, chanel tote, chanel grand tote
Soren Jepsen for Vogue Street Style
If you're looking to invest in an everyday piece, Chanel bucket and drawstring backpacks are easily on the top of the list for helping pull together even the most casual clothing choices for a more elevated appearance. We're talking pajama milk runs and athleisure chic.
Lot 121, Chanel Green Caviar Leather Bucket Handbag. Sold for $1,080 at Auctions at Showplace (2021) on Bidsquare.
Our suggested 'Saved Search Alert' Keywords: chanel, chanel bag, caviar chanel, chanel bucket, chanel bucket bag, chanel drawstring, chanel backpack
Getty Images. Bella Hadid wearing a Chanel waist bag
We've now entered the playful category of vintage classics, which, despite going in and out of trend, are still considered a worthy investment due to their spunky individualism and rarity. Seen recently on the likes of Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, Ariana Grande - 90s waist bags come in a variety of formats and can be worn belted or tight across the body.
Lot 470, Chanel White Quilted Leather Waist Pack. Offered in Austin Auction Gallery (2017) Estimate $700-$1,200
Our suggested 'Saved Search Alert' Keywords: chanel, chanel waist bag, chanel belt bag, chanel fanny pack
Kristy Sparrow for Vouge France, golden cage clutch
Online handbag auctions are definitely the right place to look for unique pieces. Finding collectable styles that enter the world through abstract, haute couture fashion shows can be tricky - especially because collectors like to hold on to them. Limited edition, novelty designs by Chanel are a valid form of "classic" as they are always appreciated for their cool factor and symbolism.
Lot 4, Chanel Ltd Edition Egg Carton Jewelry Box Clutch. Sold for $3,000 at Auctions at Showplace (2020) on Bidsquare.
Our suggested 'Saved Search Alert' Keywords: chanel, chanel limited edition, chanel clutch, chanel limited, chanel rare, chanel rare bag
Purchasing a Chanel bag is a big deal - whether it's brand new or bought at auction in the secondary market. Many consumers who buy a Chanel bag intend to keep it as a forever investment and choosing which design to go with can feel overwhelming. However, the majority of design consultants and editors would agree that it's worth it - especially now, given the new extremes that Chanel is willing to go to rarefy its products.
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Jessica Helen Weinberg | Senior Content Editor at Bidsquare