Guide to Buying a Vintage Chanel Bag on eBay

9:30 AM

There are at least two constants in life: change and the price of Chanel bags increasing every year. It is shocking that the price of a Chanel Classic Flap will be $7,650 after July 1, 2021 , when it was $1,150 in 1990. For most, it can be hard to imagine spending the price of a used car on one bag. 

The good news is that Chanel has been around for some time (and that downside of this is, that is why their handbags are so expensive), and there are a lot of second-hand bags available for purchase on secondary markets. Buyers have a lot of options; from Fashionphile, Yoogi's Closet, and Ann’s Fabulous Finds, there are pre-loved Chanel bags of all styles in great condition available. Pre-loved Chanel bags, while not a complete bargain (you won't find a classic flap for under $2k, for example), enable Chanel enthusiasts to save at least a few thousand dollars off the current retail price. 

I recently purchased a vintage Chanel from somewhere that would surprise most people - eBay. Yes, I bought a Chanel bag from eBay and it was authentic. I did a lot of research before I did so, and I thought it might be helpful to compile my learnings in a post. 

**DISCLAIMER: Please, please, be sure to do your own research and authentication prior to purchasing a bag on any platform. There is always risk when buying a Chanel bag from a third-party, and you should always consult a professional authentication service to ensure authenticity prior to and post purchasing.**

Purchasing a vintage Chanel 

I have been coveting a vintage Chanel classic flap in the medium size for some time. The key word here is vintage, as only Chanel bags made before 2008 have 24k plating on the hardware and chain straps. To me, there is just something so lovely (dare I say classic?) about the black lambskin and deep gold hardware combination. 

I was not interested in paying full price at the Chanel boutique for a classic flap. Not only is the pricing abhorrent, the newer classic flaps not have 24k gold hardware and the classic flap cannot be worn crossbody due to its shorter strap. I knew that paying full price for a classic flap was not worth it for me.

I followed a few various secondhand vendors (Fashionphile, Rebag, Vestiaire) for some time. I saw that pricing for vintage bags were still unreasonably high (in the $4k - $5k! For bags not in great condition!). I then decided to do some research on buying vintage bags from Japanese sellers on eBay, a place I never would have fathomed buying luxury goods from. 

Having recently visited Japan, I knew they had a large market for secondhand vintage Chanel. I saw a lot of shops in Tokyo and Osaka which primarily sold pre-loved bags from Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton - you name it. I knew these shops were trustworthy as it is extremely illegal to sell counterfeit goods in Japan. Japanese consumers also take great care of their bags, and so pre-loved luxury goods are often in great condition.

The ideal plan would have been to wait until I visit Japan to purchase a vintage Chanel in person, but due to the global pandemic, that was not an option for a long time. So I started to research reputable Japanese sellers on eBay, nothing that there were a handful of YouTubers (here and here) that had good experiences purchasing from eBay. After watching numerous videos and furiously researching on PurseForum, I was ready to take the plunge. 

Tips for buying vintage Chanel on Ebay

1. Purchase from a reputable, preferably Japanese, seller. Some reputable sellers that I have experience interacting with include boom2hanten and eg-system. I have also heard that brand_jfa and brandearauction are reputable sellers, but I personally have not had any experience with them.

2. Make sure the seller feedback is above 99%, and have a lot of reviews. Comb through their feedback, especially recent negative feedback. If there are any red flags, do not buy.

3. Ensure there is a return policy. You want to be sure you are able to return your product if the item is not as described. Note that because the seller is overseas, return shipping will cost a lot (my estimate was $100~ via DHL). You as the buyer will be responsible for any return shipping fees.

4. Sometimes the item may not be as described in the pictures; I unfortunately had this experience. The seller did not disclose numerous flaws on the bag that I ended up winning. Some sellers will not respond to inquiries regarding the bag prior to you winning the auction. After winning an auction (tips on this below), but before submitting payment information, I strongly recommend messaging the seller for additional pictures of the bag to ensure you are happy with the condition. They are often more happy to oblige. 

For example, I won an auction for a bag that was described in "like new" condition. I messaged the seller for close ups of the bag and asked about the condition of the hardware, etc. They shared additional pictures with me and it was only through these photos that it was disclosed there was tarnishing on the hardware. I asked to cancel the order since the item was not as described, and the seller were happy to accommodate the request. Never be afraid to ask for more pictures! 

5. Pre-authenticate your bag prior to bidding and/or purchasing the item. I used Etinceler Authenticators and submitted photos of the bag I was bidding on, and they gave me an opinion on whether or not the bag was authentic. Unfortunately, Etinceler Authenticators are no longer in business but there are many other options: Zeko's Authentication is one that has a good reputation. Give yourself peace of mind before putting your hard-earned funds towards an expensive purchase.

6. Authenticate your bag after receiving it. Make sure the bag you bid on is the one you receive. I sent my bag to Leather Surgeons to fix it up after I received it. As part of their services, Leather Surgeons authenticates bags (they do not work on any bags that are not authentic), so I knew my bag was authentic. I will also post a review of my experience with Leather Surgeons (spoiler alert: I was happy with them).

Tips for winning the auction

1. After you have found a listing you are ready to purchase from, add it to your eBay "Watch" list. Set a reminder on your calendar so you know when the end time is. 

2. Do not bid at any time during the auction. You will see other people bidding up the price but making a bid during this time is only driving up the price for yourself in the end. 

3. Set a price limit for yourself. It is easy to get caught up in the bidding war and overpay, but make a hard budget for yourself and you will walk away satisfied whether you win the bag or not. 

4. At the last 5-10 seconds of the auction, right before it ends, enter your highest and final bid. This avoids giving time to any other bidders to counter your bid, and also ensures that you won't go over your own personal budget. I've won two auctions using this technique. If you don't win the bag because someone else's bid is higher than yours, you can also walk away knowing that you gave your max budget.

Note: After you win the bag, send a message to the seller requesting for more photos. Again, this is your hard-earned money and you want to be satisfied with the purchase you receive in the mail. 

Other Notes
1. You may or may not have to pay duties. Consider this before determining the budget for your bag. You will also have to pay state taxes, so factor that into your decision as well.

2. I like to reference this Yoogi's Closet guide for Chanel serial numbers. You can determine when your bag was made by referencing the handy dandy chart on the page. If you are in the market for a vintage Chanel bag, this will help confirm the year the bag was produced.

Good luck on your search!

And that's it! I hope this was a helpful guide to purchasing a vintage Chanel bag on eBay. As I mentioned above, I will post a review on my experience with Leather Surgeons for fixing up my bag. If you have any questions or experience to share on purchasing a pre-loved Chanel bag, comment below! 

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