Pre-Loved Handbags & Fashion Accessories – What to Look For

Admit it. You’ve been tempted. How could you not be? When £2K seems to the going rate for an everyday work tote or the school-run cross body, it’s no wonder companies like Vestiaire Collective are so popular. Besides the fact that they do have an amazing selection of vintage bags available of course.

But how do you know what condition its really in, if the seller has been transparent about the wear and tear and what’s fixable versus hopeless? And unless you’re eating and breathing this everyday like us, how would you ever find out?

We thought it might be helpful to give you a few short tips to help take out some of the guess work.

Top three tips:

1.     Black leather will always be the safest option. It can be dyed or painted, smoothed or re-grained, holes can be filled and scratches buffed. It’s the most restorable material and colour there is. Having said that, you might be able to find a gorgeous light hued Chanel bag for a better price and we could transform it to black for you! How, you say? Have a look at our case study Re-colouring a Chanel Don’t shy away from vibrant colours as long as the leather looks well cared for – our leather specialists are able to mix and match colours to dye leather. 

2.     Pay attention to shape. Many designer bags aren’t meant to stand up to the myriad of things we put those bags through and one of the key things is excess weight. Tempted to load that large Givenchy Antigona? Think again. Generally, a bag bent, collapsed or stretched from improper storage or carrying too much will struggle to regain their shape. Look closely for small signs (e.g. collapsing corners, strange folds) that inevitably indicate larger damage. At The Restory, we always try to stay a few steps ahead so we have developed new techniques in restoring collapsed bags like Celine Luggage Totes and depending of the construction of the bag, we might be able to provide a solution. 

3.     Always ask the seller questions and for more pictures. They may put up the best photos to obfuscate damage and if you have concerns, the more you ask for, the truer state of the item will emerge. In particular, ask for up-close photos of the corners, the bottom, the handles (discolouration for hand oils, make up etc) and the lining. Also ask the seller what the “story” is behind the bags. “What was it used for and for how long” is a good all-encompassing question. “What am I going to be surprised about when this bag arrives” is another.  With a few pictures we would be able to provide you with a rough quotation for the services the item might require. This will also give you a better understanding of the condition of the bag and help keep any unexpected surprises to a minimum. 

While there are many more pointers we could coach you through – like why to avoid patent leather – we hope this is a good starter-for-ten.  If you are considering a pre-loved purchase, please feel free to get in touch and we’ll give you our thoughts.