Beauty Fashion

The Secret Is Out: Here’s How to Find the Best Vintage Chanel Bags

Ever since I was young, I’ve had a serious knack for shopping. My affinity for shopping extends beyond hitting the mall, though. There’s something magical about digging through secondhand stores and vintage shops until you’ve unearthed a hidden gem (like a vintage Chanel bag or vintage jewelry). Shopping secondhand is not only the easiest way to cut your closet’s carbon footprint, but it’s also the most affordable way to begin to collect designer pieces. 

Of course, there’s a specific art to finding the best vintage Chanel bags. You have to know where to look and what to look for, which is why we reached out to Tracy DiNunzio, CEO and founder of Tradesy, along with Emily Erkel, CMO co-founder of LePrix, and Kesha Linder, a merchandiser at ThredUp, to have them share their vintage shopping tips.

Whether you’re new to shopping vintage or unsure how to score the best vintage online, ahead, you’ll discover tips and tricks for finding the best vintage Chanel bags online. That’s right—the secret to securing your perfect bag is just a few scrolls away.

When did you first get into shopping vintage and second hand?  I’ve always been a vintage and thrift shopper, since high school, when my friends and I would take the train to New York City and shop for $5 peacoats at Screaming Mimi’s and Reminiscence. After college, I had a very fancy roommate who gifted me a few pieces from her closet, including a beautiful Prada dress and bag. That’s how I got hooked on luxury. I transformed in that outfit—the quality and style made me feel like I could take on the world.  I founded Tradesy in 2009 because I realized that there was tons of high-quality fashion globally but a lot of it was sitting dormant in closets and being underutilized. Meanwhile, the overproduction of disposable fashion was crushing the environment and the workers creating it. I felt strongly that the traditional retail model of buy, consume, and dispose of was broken and that the world needed smarter and more sustainable ways to fall in love with fashion. I set out to make online resale simple, safe, and stylish so that everyone could participate.

Why do you think people are apprehensive about shopping secondhand and vintage online? What advice would you give to someone afraid to take the plunge? What we hear most often is that shoppers have concerns about authenticity when buying secondhand. That’s why we developed Tradesy’s zero-tolerance policy for fakes, authentication systems, and flexible return policies before we even launched the site. It’s essential to shop from a truster reseller, and there are lots of places that do authentication well now. So I would advise someone afraid to take the plunge that they should stick with large, established resale sites that offer money-back authenticity guarantees.  It’s also good to keep in mind that shopping resale lets you access a wider variety of styles at low prices, so you can take risks and get creative. Vintage pieces can be tailored to be updated to your liking. Shoes can be resoled; bags can be updated with new chains; sleeves on garments can be added or removed. I like to approach resale as a way to have fun expressing my unique sense of style. 

What’s one of the biggest misconceptions you think people have about secondhand and vintage Chanel handbags?  Chanel bags can be sensitive to staining and wear, so shoppers may hesitate to buy a bag if there’s even a small blemish. But a lot of the minor wear-and-tear on vintage Chanel leather can be restored and repaired. It’s pretty easy to get the chain polished, leather re-dyed and conditioned, or an oil mark steamed out. And if there are still imperfections, embrace them. Chanel bags are heirloom pieces made with exceptional craftsmanship and materials, and they’re meant to last a lifetime. They age with grace and don’t need to be perfect to be beautiful. (Coincidentally, this applies to the Chanel bags and the people carrying them!)

Where is your favorite place to shop for vintage Chanel bags online? Well, it’s Tradesy, of course! I have a saved search alert for certain rare styles like this vintage surf bag. Whenever one gets listed, I get an alert, and if the price is right, I get it for my collection! 

Do you have any tips for finding the best vintage Chanel bags? Setting up saved searches on Tradesy is a great hack, especially if you have a specific style in mind. If you’re looking for a bag to carry often, I recommend sticking with caviar leather in darker colors; it’s the most durable and won’t require as much upkeep as the lighter suede or patent materials. Can you share a few tips you abide by when shopping for vintage online with our readers? Tip #1: Check back often and save your searches. Marketplaces like Tradesy get thousands of new items daily, and the best stuff sells pretty much instantly. So if you are on the hunt for something very specific, it’s important to set an alert for new arrivals. 

Tip #2: Always read descriptions carefully, zoom in on photos, and don’t hesitate to ask the seller many questions, so there are no surprises when your purchase arrives. I once bought a Chanel micro bag that I thought was much larger because I wasn’t paying attention to the details! Tip #3: Sell things from your closet to finance new purchases. There’s no reason to overextend and overspend when you can trade in what you’re not wearing for cash to buy something you want. I’m constantly buying and selling, so I spend almost nothing on replenishing my wardrobe. And it’s healthy to let go of yesterday’s fashion to welcome in a new look!

When did you first get into shopping vintage and secondhand? I started shopping for vintage and secondhand in my teens. My sister/co-founder Elise Whang and I would spend weekends thrifting at the local consignment stores, hunting for gems. We had a love of designer vintage early-on, and it is the reason we started LePrix. As we began to travel the world, we realized there was no one place to shop the best vintage and consignment stores for pre-owned luxury. We thought, how cool would it be to shop some of the best vintage stores in NY, L.A., or Paris, right from the comfort of your couch? We launched LePrix, the only place to shop for the best vintage and consignment stores online for pre-owned luxury.

Why do you think people are apprehensive about shopping secondhand and vintage online? And what advice would you give to someone afraid to take the plunge? I understand why people may be apprehensive about shopping pre-owned and vintage online. Given how large the fake industry is, how do consumers know where to shop and who to trust? The first thing is to ensure that where you buy vintage and secondhand, authenticity is always guaranteed. If the store policy isn’t clear, steer away. The second thing you can do is request a Certificate of Authenticity from a seller from a reputable authenticator. At LePrix.com, we vet every single store that sells on our platform to ensure the strictest of authentication processes are followed. Stores also use the newest technology such as Entrupy to authenticate, including hyper microscopic image recognition to review hardware, stitching, serial number, etc. This is how we can provide authenticity guaranteed. Always.

What’s one of the biggest misconceptions you think people have about secondhand and vintage Chanel handbags?  For those new to vintage, especially Chanel, some assume that vintage Chanel may not hold up as well as the latest editions. This is a misconception. In fact, vintage Chanel bags are made of even better quality materials than today. For example, if you’re looking for a Chanel bag with gold hardware, look to bags pre-2008. Before the 2008/09 Cruise collection, vintage Chanel bags were made with real 24-karat gold hardware. After 2008, Chanel stopped making bags with 24-karat gold and now has gold-tone hardware.

Where is your favorite place to shop for vintage Chanel bags online? LePrix, of course! We have the most extensive collection online of authentic Chanel handbags. Since we source from the best vintage and consignment stores globally, you’ll find everything from classic Chanel flaps to rare, limited-edition collector pieces.

Do you have any tips for finding the best vintage Chanel bags? Shop around and see what styles are out there. It’ll help you narrow down the exact bag you want and what you can afford. Also, think about your lifestyle. What bag do you use the most? If you find you’re always on the go and prefer to be hands-free, then a crossbody like a Chanel Wallet on Chain (aka WOC) might be your best choice. Or if you tend to carry around everything and the kitchen sink, then maybe a larger tote like a Chanel Deauville Tote would be a good fit. Or if you’re like me and into classics with high-resale value, you can’t go wrong with a classic flap.  Once you decide on a style, then it’s time to do your research. Visit reputable resale sites like LePrix to see what color, leather, and condition you most want. With so many variations of a certain style, it’ll give you a good feel for the price range as well. Wherever you end up buying your “new” vintage bag, ensure that the business guarantees authenticity.

Can you share a few tips you abide by when shopping for vintage online with our readers? Tip #1: Read the fine print. Make sure you read the details of the item carefully, especially the condition. Unless you plan on rehabilitating a bag, you may want an item that is in better shape. For Chanel, things to look for are corner rubbing, any fraying on the chain strap, and if the item was repainted, this should be clearly stated. Tip #2: Ask questions. It’s so important to find out everything you can about the bag you’re about to purchase. Every reputable seller will share details about the bag. A few questions to ask: Does it come with a certificate of authenticity? Is a dust bag or box included? Also, if you need additional pictures, make sure you ask for them as well. You could even see if the seller is open to offers. On LePrix, most of our stores that sell on our platform accept bids. It doesn’t hurt to ask! Tip #3: If you find the one you love, move fast. The perfect vintage Chanel bag or Max Mara coat from a reputable seller will go fast. This rings all the more true for one-of-a-kind pieces or high in-demand pieces. I will always regret that time I saw vintage Celine Edge sunglasses on LePrix and decided to “sleep on it.” By morning, it was gone. It indeed was the one that got away.

When did you first get into shopping vintage and secondhand? I’ve always worn secondhand clothing, whether it was clothes my siblings didn’t want anymore or swapping clothes with friends in high school. My first trip to a thrift store was after I returned home from the military. I craved for my identity back after years of wearing nothing but a uniform. A friend suggested that we go thrifting, and I’ve been obsessed ever since.

Why do you think people are apprehensive about shopping secondhand and vintage online? And what advice would you give to someone afraid to take the plunge? At ThredUp, we’ve witnessed the stigma around secondhand fade over the past decade. Consumers are thinking about the eco-impact of their purchases, particularly Gen Z, who are looking for trend-forward fashion without the waste. With constant new arrivals, online resale also offers an entertaining way to shop right from your couch. My advice for someone new to thrift would be to try a thredUP Goody Box! Our Goody Boxes offer ten like-new items handpicked by our stylists that fit your size, style, and budget. All you have to do is pay for what you keep and send back the rest.  It’s the perfect way to try out thrift if you’re new.

What’s one of the largest misconceptions you think people have about secondhand and vintage Chanel handbags?  Shopping secondhand is my favorite way to score coveted designer items (like a Chanel bag!) at attainable prices. A common misconception many have about shopping secondhand for designer bags because the items aren’t in good condition, so they think it’s better to splurge on a brand new bag fully. This isn’t the case because many things in the resale market are durable enough to go from closet to closet with minimal wear and tear. Many people resell items they only wore once or twice, making many thrifted items just as fresh as a brand new item. This makes shopping used a no-brainer! 

Where is your favorite place to shop for vintage Chanel bags online? ThredUp is my favorite, of course! We have a wide range of Chanel styles, including the classic black flap bag and more novel styles like the red belt bag above. 

Do you have any tips for finding the best vintage Chanel bags? According to ThredUp’s 2020 Resale Report, Chanel is one of the top 10 luxury brands with the best resale value, meaning your Chanel purchase is an investment that will last and hold its value. Having chosen an excellent resale brand to start, my number one tip for finding the best Chanel bag is to think about how it will match the rest of your wardrobe. Can you picture yourself wearing the bag for multiple occasions and getting a lot of use out of it? Make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck by choosing a versatile bag that complements your closet. My second tip would be to buy from a trusted resale site, where the work of vetting the items is done for you. Finally, be sure to take advantage of signing up for product arrival alerts, so you can be the first to know when new Chanel bags arrive. Can you share a few tips you abide by when shopping for vintage online with our readers? Tip #1: Filter the site by your size: The first thing you should do when you hit an online thrift store is filter it by your size to find one of a kind gems that work for you. You can also filter by “new with tags” and “like new” to find items in near-perfect condition. 

Tip #2: Set up alerts for your favorite brands and styles: If you’re on the hunt for one thing, in particular, thredUP can send you an email the moment the item you’re looking for hits the site in your size. Tip #3. Never hit snooze on an item you love: Each item is truly one-of-a-kind when you’re shopping vintage. If you love the item, buy it when you see it before someone else grabs it! The great thing about resale sites like ThredUp is you can always sell the item back and make some quick cash.  Tip #4: Auto-Buy. If you find an item you love, but it’s in someone else’s cart, click Auto-Buy, and the item will be yours the second it becomes available!

Fashionphile is another e-commerce retailer where you can find the best vintage Chanel handbags. Founded in 2006, the retailer curates secondhand luxury pieces and is an exclusive e-commerce partner of Neiman Marcus.

Talk about a statement bag. 

Um, who wouldn’t want to scoop up this cute Chanel coin purse belt bag from Fashionphile?

If you’re looking to unearth a hidden gem, then you’ll want to scour the luxury reseller Rebag’s e-commerce site. Founded in New York City in 2014, the brand uses over 100+ experts to ensure authenticity.

Not sure what color Chanel bag you want? Meet this two-tone quilted shoulder bag. 

Chanel is a French fashion house, so why not buy your vintage piece from the French-founded e-commerce reseller platform Versatile Collective? Founded in 2009, the retailer has community members submit listings. Their team of experts then approves, curates, and proves authenticity for each listing, making it a unique global curation of secondhand pieces.

This pearl Chanel handbag is a rare find if we don’t say so ourselves.

This Chanel clutch is living rent-free in our minds.

Your next hidden gem may also be found at the online boutique, The Luxury Closet. Founded in 2011 and based out of Dubai, this online commerce platform offers various luxury consignment pieces that would be the perfect addition to any collection.

The wooden handle on this Chanel bag is oh so tempting to touch. 

Investing in a Chanel bag you can wear daily is a must. This one is up for the job.

What Goes Around Comes Around started as a boutique in Soho and now is a globally known luxury reseller both IRL and on the internet. If you’re looking for some of the best vintage Chanel bags, you’ll be sure to find them here.

Patchwork fans, you’ve met your match. 

This bag will solve any Chanel deficiency.

Sneakerheads may know of StockX as one of the best places to secure the latest drops, but did you know that you can also secure some of the best vintage Chanel bags on the platform? The great thing about Stockx is that it will let you place a bid on the bag you’re eying and give you updates about the value of the piece.

A Chanel bag that’s the epitome of cozy-chic.

What’s more iconic than Chanel perfume? This bag, of course. 

Next: The Best Designer Handbags Worth the Investment

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