A handbag? Lady Bracknell may have been puzzled, but Posh Pawn Claudia star Claudia Valentin knows what they’re worth and how to get them.
A Handbag isn’t merely an accessory or even a basic. To most women, its an absolute necessity – an extension of herself, a central hub to her working day, or a statement piece when she’s out socialising.
Like shoes, a bag says a lot about it’s owner. A well-chosen one can get a woman through a lifetime of wardrobe crises, and for the savvy shopper, it can even offer a financial return when it’s time to say goodbye.
But, as anyone who has tried to buy an Hermès Birkin in-store will testify, unless you’re a Beckham, a Kardashian, or part of the Hollywood glitterati, trying to source some of the most in demand bags can be nigh on impossible. Cue Claudia Valentin, who’s made a career out of sourcing and restoring premium handbags.
With a collection of hundreds of bags from all over the world, she doesn’t have a walk-in wardrobe, she has what she describes as her own walk-in bagdrobe.
“I look at all my beautiful bags as works of art” she says. “Each has it’s own story, and while most are sentimentally priceless to me, I do have some that are purely investment pieces. “Handbags are serious collectors’ items that can fetch net investors tens of thousands of pounds”
As one of the world’s leading authorities on arm accessories, Claudia can boast an enviable celebrity clientele, but her own journey began with a bag presented to her at a very early age.
“I will always remember getting my first bag”, she says. I was only four years old and it was in tan leather with beautiful handpainted flowers on it.
“My Aunt bought it in Sicily, and as I can still recall its gorgeous leathery smell to this day! I loved that bag so much that I actually slept with it”. You could say the bag bug had well and truly bitten.
“The first bag I ever brought for myself was a Ted Baker which cost £80 from Fenwick’s. I was 14, working part-time at a hairdressers, and I remember feeling so proud and grown up that I earned that money. That bag made feel amazing, like Joan Collins from Dynasty, but without the shoulder pads. From there, I kept on saving, and by the time I was 18 I had more than £14,000. That’s when my handbag collecting really, kicked in. I still get the same buzz from buying or sourcing a rare handbag for myself, or for a client.”
Claudia is surrounded by dozens of highly collectable designer handbags that look like they belong in Kate Moss’s wardrobe. There’s classic Chanel, of course, as well as Prada, Gucci, and the aforementioned Holy Grail of bags, the Hermes Birkin.
“The huge demand for an original Hermès means it can be almost impossible to buy certain styles, colours and sizes in-store” says Claudia. “There’s often a waiting list of several years. The retail cost of the original can be as much as £65,000 but, with a few carefully placed calls, I have sourced rare bags for as little as £6500.
“Hermès are all handmade and can take one individual two to three weeks to make, so the quality is such that the bags will retain their value.”
Hermès isn’t the only bag manufacturer with a demand that outstrips supply.
“We have the same demand for the classic jumbo Chanel bag with a retail value of £4500. Chanel only releases so many bags on a weekly basis.These bags don’t lose their value, they become heirlooms, and because of how classic they are they become timeless pieces in a woman’s collection.”
While classic bags refuse to date, if you like yours more on trend, then fashion bags from Prada, YSL and Gucci can also be sound investments.
“The value isn’t quite as high, as they are more likely to date,” says Claudia. “But when they first come out they’re in high demand, so they’re a good choice for someone looking to recycle their collection quickly.”
She sounds a note of caution. “Once you’ve invested, feel free to show off your new purchase, but treat it with care if you want it to retain it’s value. The handbag needs to be in very good condition with all its original packaging. It should have no scuffs, still be in good shape, and the colour of the hardware must be intact.”
When it comes to colour, a handbag’s hue can make all the difference, “In my experience, the specific colours to avoid are fashion colours which can be seasonal. Always invest in black and classic colours as these will never date.
If you are wondering if the bag bubble will burst post-Brexit, Claudia says she has evidence to the contrary: some bags have increased in value more than gold over the past few years, but you have to get in quickly.
“The demand’s there and we feed it” she says. “Our online store was virtually crashing in the lead up to Christmas, and no sooner had we uploaded a bag it then sold in seconds. We expected things to slow down, but I’m just as busy.”
CLAUDIA’S TOP 5 HANDBAGS OF ALL TIME
Hermès Birkin -Estimated retail value (new) between £7500 and up to £100,00, depending on the size and skin quality.
Hermès Kelly – Named after Grace Kelly, and another absolute classic. Almost impossible to buy new, but with a retail value again between £7500 and £65,000 depending on the size and material.
Chanel Classic Jumbo 2.55 – This is the classic original style which is most sought-after with a rectangular clasp and single opening strap. The cost new is approximately £4,500.
Chanel Classics Timeless – Designed by Karl Lagerfield, this bag comes with a double flap and classic two C’s entwined with a leather and silver strap. The cost new is approximately £4,500.
Dior, Lady Dior – This bag, again is wanted by many. It comes in a range of materials including lambskin and python. This little shopper, as it’s known, also features little Dior charms. Depending on the size and material, can range from £3,500 to £15k.
Original Lux article available here: Link