When actress Jane Birkin’s own Hermès Birkin bag went under the hammer, it sold for an eye-watering £119,000, almost six times the estimate.
The fact that it showed signs of use by its original owner – autographed in Tipp-Ex on the inside and with her cat’s bite marks on the handle – only made it more desirable.1
Handbags tell a story. And, as collectors worldwide will know, they can be worth much more than their original retail value, depending on the bag, designer, and owner.
Here we look at some of the world's most expensive bags, the best ones to hold their value and why the price of these designer items is increasing.
The most sought-after handbags
Some record-smashing sales of designer handbags have taken place at auctions in London, Paris, Hong Kong and online. Bonhams, Sotheby's and Christie's have all sold some of the world's most exclusive bags.
The Chanel Collection – The single-owner collection of 200 lots was a highlight for Bonham's online buyers. A red python Boy bag sold for £8,925, and a blue leather Boy bag with Swarovski crystals fetched £4,462.501
Karl Lagerfeld's Chanel bag – Lagerfeld's personal Chanel croc-embossed lambskin tote went for €94,500 at Sotheby's in Paris. It became the most expensive Chanel handbag ever to be sold at auction. An amazing sale during the three-part auction series dedicated to the late artistic director's estate.2
Hermès diamond Himalaya Birkin – The Birkin is said to be the ultimate bag among collectors. A rare 2010 Hermès, matte Himalaya Niloticus crocodile Birkin, with 18k white gold and diamond hardware, sold for £236,750 at Christie's London in December 2018.3
Designer bags that hold their value
Investing in the best designer bags like Chanel, Louis Vuitton bags, and Hermès can be a wise choice as they hold their value well in the resale market. The Birkin bag, for example, is expected to double in value in the next decade.6 So, as well as investing in a style you love, choosing a classic that will hold its value and never go out of fashion is also important.
This selection of the best designer bags includes a mix of new, trendy styles and classic, timeless pieces that are synonymous with luxury and elegance. These bags are made with high-quality materials and hardware, and have been chosen based on the reputation of the designer brand and the bag's likelihood to remain popular and in-demand.
Many of these bags are also not associated with a specific season, making them a great cost-per-wear investment. Add to that their iconic status and it's no wonder they not only hold their value, but become worthy investments.
77 handbags that hold their value:
- Alexander McQueen Jewel Knuckleduster Crossbody Bag
- Balenciaga Classic City Small Black Leather Top Handle Bag
- Bottega Veneta Cassette Bag
- Bottega Veneta Jodie Mini Knotted Intrecciato Leather Tote
- Bottega Veneta Sardine
- Brandon Blackwood Kendrick Trunk
- Burberry Lola Shoulder Bag
- Burberry Lola Sequinned Bag
- Burberry Medium Vintage Check Tile Tote Bag
- Burberry TB Leather Shoulder Bag
- Celine C Box Bag
- Celine Teen Triomphe Bag
- Celine Trio Bag
- Chanel 2.55 Bag
- Chanel Classic Mini Flap Bag
- Chanel Boy Bag
- Chloe Alphabet Bag
- Chloe Edith Bag
- Chloe Faye Bag
- Chloe Kiss Bag
- Chloe Marcie Bag
- Chloe Mini Leather Marcie Saddle
- Chloe Penelope Bag
- Chloe Sense Bag
- Chloe Tess Bag
- Chloe Woody Tote
- Coach Pillow Tabby 26 Leather Shoulder Bag
- Coperni Swipe Bag
- Delvaux Pin Swing Taurillon Soft
- Dior Book Tote Large
- Dior Daniel Arsham Double Zip Crossbody Pouch
- Dior Lady Dior Bag
- Dior Saddle Bag
- Dolce & Gabbana Medium Sicily Bag in dauphine calfskin
- Faure Le Page Tote
- Fendi Baguette Bag
- Fendi Peekaboo Bag
- Givenchy Antigona Tote Bag
- Givenchy GV3 Small Leather Shoulder Bag
- Givenchy Sequin Charm Bag
- Goyard Plumet Cross Body Bag
- Gucci Attache Bag
- Gucci Dionysus Shoulder Bag
- Gucci GG Marmont Small Leather Shoulder Bag
- Gucci Jackie 1961 Small Shoulder Bag
- Gucci Ophidia Small GG Tote Bag
- Gucci Soho Cross Body Bag
- Hermes Birkin Bag
- Hermes Kelly Bag
- Jacquemus Le Chiquito Noeud Leather Shoulder Bag
- Loewe Large Basket Bag in palm leaf and calfskin
- Luar Ana Bag
- Loewe Puzzle Bag
- Louis Vuitton Bag New Wave MM Chain
- Louis Vuitton Bumbag
- Louis Vuitton Monogram Canvas Speedy 30 Bag
- Louis Vuitton Never Full MM
- Louis Vuitton Speedy Bandouliere 25 Bag
- Louis Vuitton Speedy Mini HL Handbag
- Mach & Mach Mini Samantha Bag
- Miu Miu Wander Mini Matelasse Nappa Bag
- Mulberry Bayswater
- Polene Numero 10 Bag
- Prada Galleria Tote Bag
- Prada Galleria Saffiano Bag
- Prada Re-Edition 1995 Tote
- Prada Re-Nylon Re-edition 2000 Mini-Bag
- Prada Tessuto Re-edition 2005 Shoulder Bag
- Saint Lauren Cassandra Large Bag
- Saint Lauren Le 5 A 7 Hobo
- Saint Lauren Loulou Toy Leather Crossbody Bag
- Teflar Shopping Bag
- The Row 90's Leather Bag
- Valentino Garavani Roman Stud Small Quilted Leather Bag
- Valentino Rockstud Leather Shoulder Bag
- Valentino VLock Leather Shoulder Bag
- Valentino VRing Cross Body Bag
Prices have increased since the pandemic
Of course, seeing your favourite celebrity with a designer accessory on their arm makes the bag more sought-after and valuable.
Designer handbag collectors have always been willing to pay for something special – whether that be a rare, vintage piece from a reputable auction house or buying new from a store or luxury boutique.
However, as well as paying thousands, buyers could also have to wait months or years for their favourite colour, size and style to become available.
Why will you pay more?
Luxury fashion houses Louis Vuitton and Chanel were among those to have increased prices for some signature bags.4
It was reported that Chanel put up its prices for its iconic medium flap bag three times in 2021, rising to $8,800 (£7,379). It also charged 10 to 15 % more for its Boy, Gabrielle and Chanel 19 bags.
According to a Chanel spokesman, the increase was due to changes in the exchange rate, production costs, and to make sure its bags had similar pricing around the world.
Louis Vuitton's Pochette Accessoires Monogram canvas went from $630 (£528) in 2021 to $1,050 (£880) in early 2022.4
With designer bags, price tags usually go up yearly to allow for inflation, new material and labour costs. But they also increased last year to compensate for any losses during the pandemic, especially a decrease in international sales.4
The luxury bag industry is booming
Despite the higher cost for classic handbags, customers are still keen to get their hands on an investment piece.
The luxury handbag market is increasing, thanks to a rise in working women with more disposable income to splurge on Gucci, Dior or Prada.
Plus, women are heading out again post-lockdown, all wanting to showcase their finest Versace, Balenciaga, Givenchy and Fendi bags.
Projections for the global luxury handbag market exceed 35.4 billion dollars (29.6 billion pounds) by 2031.5
Hermès superfans Victoria Beckham and Kim Kardashian are among those photographed with their beloved designer bags. As these fashion icons have proved, matching the entire look to the shade of your tote is the ultimate fashion goal. Being snapped toting a hard-to-find Birkin or Kelly (named after Grace Kelly) is a goal for many fashion lovers, A-listers and influencers.
Protecting your designer bags
We know how personal and special your luxury handbags are to you. Our Private Clients team can ensure your designer bag collection is protected as it grows in size and resale value. We can also help by giving you access to industry experts that can carry out regular valuations to ensure you are always best protected.
Get in touch with the team to find out more.