Yes you CAN buy a Birkin: Star of Posh Pawn reveals how any woman can get her hands on the most elusive – and expensive – of designer bags fora bargain price.
- Claudia Valentin, handbag expert from Channel 4 show, sells Birkin bags
- Says buying second hand allows anyone to access exclusive club
- Pre-loved bags are often unused and still in original boxes
- Downside is they may not be any cheaper than brand new £6,500 bag
They come with a price tag of more than £6,000, they’re so exclusive you can’t walk into a store and buy one – and those who ask to join a waiting list are usually given a short shrift.
But Claudia Valentin, handbag expert from Ch4’s Posh Pawn, says that there is a way the average person on the street can get their hands on a Hermès Birkin – without being friends with Victoria Beckham, who has a collection worth more than £1 million
Claudia, of Prestige Pawnbrokers, says that buying a second hand bag online is your key to joining the exclusive club.
Recently, four FEMAIL writers tried and failed to purchase the elusive arm candy by visiting Hermès stores and concessions, but search online and you may find one that’s not even been used for a bargain price.
Claudia Valentin, handbag expert from Ch4’s Posh Pawn, says that there is a way the average person on the street can get their hands on a Hermès Birkin – without being friends with Victoria Beckham
‘It’s a lot easier to get a Birkin second hand,’ Claudia revealed. ‘I’ve got second-hand bags in that haven’t even been used that are still in the box with their dust covers on.
‘You would literally think they have come out of the shop.’
Although it’s hard to imagine anyone parting with an item that’s so hard to get in the first place, Claudia said it’s extremely common.
‘Fashions change, things become last season. There’s a new colour. ‘Fashion victims that have bags as status symbols want to update as and when a new one comes out,’ she explained.
Victori Beckham with a £24,740 Hermès Birkin burgundy bag. The singer turned designer has a collection worth over £1 million
Tamara Ecclestone has more than 30 Birkins in every colour available
Also, maybe people need the money or they have received the bag as a gift and don’t use it or don’t like the colour or don’t want it.
Those lucky enough to be wealthy enough to snap one up, or know someone rich enough to buy them one don’t place the same value on them.
‘A lot of people aren’t aware of the exclusivity of a Hermès bag,’ Claudia explained. ‘They don’t realise they are impossible to get hold of.
‘I’ve dealt with lots of people who come in and don’t realise the value of them. They’re not actually aware of the second hand value.’
This is good news for anyone without the budget to splash out upwards of £6,500 on a piece of arm candy.
Model Miranda Kerr totes her Birkin bag while out and about in New York
Padma Lakshmi Women in the World Summit, New York last month brandishing her black Hermès Birkin
Have a look online and see what kind of bids they’re fetching at auction. You can get a Hermès bag very reasonably priced if the person is not expecting too much.
‘Sometimes I ask people how much they’re expecting and they say: “I’d like to get £1,500 for it”.’
One way to get a bargain is to opt for one of the less fashionable sizes.
‘The 40cm size has gone down in price because of the desirability,’ she explained. At the moment the 30 and 35cm bags are more desirable.
CLAUDIA’S TOP TIPS FOR BUYING A HERMES BIRKIN
Buy second hand: Check out online auction sites and high end pawnbrokers.
Research the market: Look online to see what prices bags are going for at auction. Sometimes people don’t realise the value of the bags and will be pricing them at the £1,500 mark.
Seek guarantees: It’s very hard to spot a fake so make sure you buy from a reputable site and ask for a guarantee in writing from the seller that you will get a full refund if the bag proves not to be genuine.
Seek out less popular sizes: The smaller bags are less desirable than the 40cm Birkin at the moment so you may find it easier to get your hands on one.
Be prepared to pay the price: Hermès bags hold their value so buying a second hand Birkin might not be any cheaper than purchasing one brand new.
Forge contacts: There are no guarantees and it will take time but you can try to build a relationship with staff in store and hope they will let you know when bags are available.
Accept imperfections: You may be able to save money by buying a second hand bag in need of repair, but be aware that you could be waiting a year for refurbishments.
‘The price you pay all depends on the size and the colour and skin. There are hundreds of different styles and that all makes a difference to the value.’
Another factor that might knock down the price is the condition of the bag. If it’s need of repair or missing a lock or key, you will get it cheaper.
‘Some people don’t mind because they’re so desperate to get one,’ she said. ‘It’s still worth doing, but there’s still a big waiting list for repairs.
‘Currently it’s taking up to a year for refurbishments. It’s a lot of money to invest in something that you won’t be able to use for a long time and you can’t sell for more until you have it all in good condition.’
However, it’s all a matter of getting lucky when it comes to getting a bargain.
‘With the 40cm, if you buy from Hermès it’s £6,500,’ Claudia said. ‘But then you have to be able to get one. There could be a two to three year wait.
‘I have a second-hand one in brown at the moment. I can still sell it at full retail price.’
That, is seems, is the bad news for anyone looking to buy a pre-loved Birkin.
Buying a second-hand bag may be more accessible, but the difficulty of getting one means you might not find one that’s affordable.
However, if you do splash out it’s very likely you will recoup you’re investment if you decide to sell it in the future.
‘It’s an heirloom,’ Claudia agreed. ‘It doesn’t lose value. I had a 1969 baby crocodile 28cm Kelly bag that was purchased new for £10,000.
‘Admittedly that was quite a lot of money at the time, but it sold for £40,000.’
While there aren’t quite the same barriers when it comes to buying second hand, you still have to be quick off the mark.
‘We do get a lot of people in looking for Birkins and Kellys,’ Claudia said. ‘They can sell before we even get a chance to photograph them and put them up on the site.
Actress Kate Upton strides through the airport in LA toting her sought-after handbag
‘We had an Australian woman come over to buy one. I’ve had a lady come from LA because she could not get her hands on one there.’
If you are looking to buy online, Claudia sounds a note of caution.
‘There are a lot very, very good replicas that come with the box and the dust cover. I had a customer come in with two Birkins in boxes and had a receipt, apparently from Hermès in Prague.
‘He was trying to get £3,500 for both of them. I had to tell him I couldn’t help him as I knew they were fake.’
For the average person though, spotting one that’s not real can be tricky.
Every bag is hand stitched so whereas imperfections in the stitching would be a giveaway for another designer brand, it doesn’t tell you anything about a Birkin.
‘I’ve been lucky,’ Claudia said. ‘I’ve had hundreds pass through my hands and you get a feel for them.
HERMES BIRKIN IS A BETTER INVESTMENT THAN GOLD
A study by luxury handbag platform BagHunter compared the investment opportunities presented by the S&P 500, gold, and Hermès Birkin bags over 35 years.
They found that on average, people will get a better return on their investment from Birkins than stocks or gold – and there is also a lot less risk involved.
For the study, BagHunter compared the value of each of those investments over a 35-year period, from 1980 to 2015.
During those years, the S&P 500 showed a real return average of 8.65 per cent. That’s certainly not bad – but it’s also just the average over three decades.
That number doesn’t reflect the fact that those returns majorly fluctuated over the years, and investors sometimes saw losses – as low as negative 36.55 per cent in 2008.
Gold’s overall returns were worse. Investing in the precious metal saw average real returns of negative 1.5 per cent over the 30-year period. Like the S&P 500, though, prices rose and fell a lot over the years and were hardly consistent.
But that’s not the case for Birkins. Though the bags have experienced some fluctuations in value, it has only been positive – meaning, sometimes a person could make a lot of money by reselling one, and sometimes they could only make a little money.
Birkins always returned a profit, with an average of 14.2 per cent and the lowest returns still hitting 2.1 percent.
This all means that investing in stocks and gold is much more of a guessing game, while Birkins are more of a sure thing. If you sell stocks or gold at the right time, you profit, but if you sell at the wrong time, you don’t. Birkins, on the other hand, could be sold at any time for at least some profit.
‘And it’s all about the locks and keys, the weight and how it feels and smells. ‘You can spot little differences in the size of the boxes and the dust covers.
‘On the strap on the right hand side as you look at the bag straight on there is a tiny date stamp.’
However, Claudia concedes it will be tough for the untrained eye to spot a fake. Depending on how it’s stamped you can see if it’s real.
‘There’s also a serial number on the lock and the key and I know the ones that are in circulation that aren’t real.
‘Of course, it could be a coincidence and it’s a genuine bag with the serial number of one of the fakes, but normally it’s not the case.
‘Even a few years ago I would not have been able to tell the difference.
‘But now I have had handled thousands of designer handbags through pleasure as I love them and obviously my career has taken it to a very professional level as well as one of my hobbies.
‘Since working with Prestige Pawn, I’ve seen huge volumes of bags on a daily basis I’ve enhanced my skills and consider myself to now being a designer handbag connoisseur.’
Claudia advises that if in doubt about a bag, the best thing to do is to bring it to a Hermès store and ask if they can help verify it.
‘The best thing to do is go to the shop and ask if they can help – if they’re willing to have a discussion about it,’ she said.
‘Everything is done very discreetly and they don’t generally discuss anything about the bags.’
So where does this leave anyone who wants to buy a bag online?
‘Make sure the seller gives you a guarantee in writing in your correspondence that this is a genuine item and that you will be offered a full refund if that turns out not to be the case,’ Claudia advised.
‘Then you have a leg to stand on. And I know eBay has got a lot better now and if they believe something isn’t genuine they will take it down.’
Claudia has one Birkin but admits she actually prefers Chanel bags.
‘I don’t particularly like them,’ she revealed. ‘I think they can be quite clunky.
‘Chanel is an heirloom. Other brands are for the fashion victims. If you want to spend your money wisely, stick with the classics.’
If you feel wary about buying second hand and have your heart set on a new bag, what are the chances of actually getting one?
When four different FEMAIL attempted to buy one recently, they were told none were in stock.
But Claudia said it’s highly likely the retailers would have had the bags, but there’s no point showing them to people as they’re already earmarked for wealthy clients.
‘Paris head office will call all the stores and let them know how many they can sell in that week or month.
‘If you’re allowed to sell eight in that month you pick and choose who to sell them to.
‘If you’re a “somebody” you can get one. Or if you have contacts or friends who work in the store you might be lucky.
‘I’ve become friendly with people who work at Hermès because I go in and out to the shop. I’ve brought bags in for repair and they’ve become familiar with me.
‘They can do you a favour, but it’s up to them.’
Original Daily Mail article available here:link