The insider's guide to buying vintage Chanel bags

March 09, 2017

The insider's guide to buying vintage Chanel bags

Stick to the classics

If you are thinking of buying a vintage Chanel bag as an investment and are unsure about which styles will appreciate in value, a safe bet is to stick to the classics. Take a look at the chart below to see how much the price of a 2.55 medium flap has increased since 1955.

Chanel 2.55 bag price increase chart(pic credits:

Which classic designs? The styles we think are worth investing in are the Chanel 2.55 Medium flap, Chanel Jumbo flap, Chanel mini flap and Chanel wallet on chain. These styles have been around for a long time and have steadily increased in value due to price inflation.

What about colours and materials? Go for the common colours such as black or beige. Red and pink are rare back in the days, so you'll find the price higher. Choose lambskin, caviar or even exotic leathers instead of materials like satin, velvet or patent leather as they do not age well. It may be tempting to pick those with fancy colours, beads, prints, tweeds and even the special edition bags. Bear in mind that these will appeal to a smaller group of people which means it could be more difficult to sell on. 

     Know your leathers 

It goes without saying that vintage bags are not brand new. Have reasonable expectations because they are aged 10 years or more so there will be signs of age, wear and imperfections. Some say that it adds character to the bag but we'd recommend buying the bag in the best condition for your budget.

What to look out for? Examine the pictures and descriptions clearly. It is very common for these bags to have signs of wear, especially on the corners and straps. Look out for scuffed corners, dryness, peeling, darkening, colour transfer and deflation.

Lambskin or Calfskin: Chanel lambskin bags are soft and buttery in texture, but they scratch easily and is prone to deflation. These are especially true for larger bags like the jumbo flap. Calfskin leather, on the other hand, is very hardwearing and forgiving.

Texture: Also note that re-coloured bags will lose the original soft buttery texture, so be sure to check with the seller if you think that the texture of the leather feels rough.

Spot the accessories 

chanel jersey bag

Hologram sticker: The serial number on the hologram sticker should match the number on the authenticity card. The font and style on the hologram sticker should represent the year accordingly (more information on how to spot this in our previous blog post).

Authenticity card: The numbers and border of the authenticity cards should be stamped in gold foil. The counterfeits tend to show a rainbow effect under light. Chanel also started inserting a grey circle logo stamp on the top right of some of the cards from 5xxxxxx digits onwards.

Dust-bags: There are some variations to dust bags over the years. Dust bags from the early 1980’s to early 1990’s were made in soft fleece material in either black with gold CC/Chanel printing or white in black CC/Chanel printing. In the late 1990’s, these were made in black cotton drawstring with a white Chanel print.

An original brand new Chanel bag should include; a hologram sticker, authenticity card, booklet, original dust bag and box. Due to age and wear on vintage bags, some of these accessories may be worn or lost so you will have to rely on the assessment of other aspects of the bag. If all of these seem too daunting, you could also get help from online third-party authenticators.


Leather should always have a rather pleasant smell of leather. When owners store their bags for a long period of time in damp conditions, mould could start building up inside the bag, which smells rather unpleasant. Therefore, it is worth checking for signs of mould and anything strong such as perfume, cigarettes or even paint (this indicates the bag has been recently re-coloured).


Chanel vintage hardware

All vintage hardware are plated in 24k gold which is is one of the main reasons why we think they’re so special. This is indicated by the tiny embossed mark on the gold CC lock. Pay attention to faded or chipped hardware. Chipped hardware should be avoided as they will have to be replaced. Also, check the zippers and locks if they're still functioning.

Price vs condition 

The price of the bag will reflect the condition of the bag. And if the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Bags that are out of shape, deflated and scuffed, tend to sell at a considerable discount. Although it could be an affordable way to own your first Chanel, these bags will be much harder to sell on in future and may not appreciate much in value. With that in mind, we would always recommend paying a bit more for a bag in better condition, rather than the other way round.


Buy from reputable sellers 

It can be very daunting to buy an expensive bag online. Therefore, there is no doubt you should only buy from reputable sellers with a good track record. This affords you the peace mind that the bags are authentic and you will receive good customer service. Never be afraid to ask questions or for more pictures to put yourself at ease. Sellers who are hesitant to answer questions and provide more pictures on request do not deserve your custom.

So let’s recap!

What you need to know before buying a Vintage Chanel bag:
1.     Stick to the classics if you’re also buying it as an investment
2.     Have reasonable expectations
3.     Pay attention to the accessories, the more the better
4.     Smell it - avoid strong or bad smells
5.     Avoid chipped hard-ware
6.     Pay more for a bag in better condition than the other way round
7.     Buy from reputable sellers
Just so you know, we look out for these things too when we source our bags! If you’re now ready to purchase your first vintage Chanel bag, why not give us a try at Vintage District. If you have any more tips to add, do share them with us below! 

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