News & Insights

Handbags & Gladrags

12th August 2021. By Sarah White

Whilst most associate auctions purely with antiques and fine art, the luxury and designer market is one of the fastest growing sectors of the auction world today. A source of rare or unique collector’s items and ready-to-wear statement fashion pieces, there is a wealth of high-end delights often on offer for a fraction of the price new.

Luxury auctions cover all manner of items from handbags and clothing to luggage, jewellery, and fountain pens, but the most in demand lots come from a select few designers whose very names are synonymous with high fashion – namely Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior and Hermès. Indeed, it is the last of these, the famed Parisian fashion house Hermès, which makes perhaps two of the most iconic and timeless luxury accessories available today.  

The Hermès Birkin Bag is said to be the most sought-after item in fashion history – the ultimate status symbol. Named after the actress Jane Birkin, the legendary handbag has been made since the early 1980s. Nearly forty years later, so in demand is the Birkin that there is not even a waiting list for new bags. Buyers must make contacts with Hermès stores and boutiques, and hope that they will be amongst the chosen to be contacted when a precious few bags become available. Many wait years for the right bag to become available. It is little wonder then that the secondary market for Birkin bags is thriving, with a spike in demand recently seen during the first lockdown in 2020. Rare bags can fetch tens of thousands of pounds, and in 2017 Christies sold a limited-edition example for a record £293,000. However, more common examples in good condition start at around £1,000.

The Hermès silk scarf has been seen as the height of chic since it was introduced in 1937, when Robert Dumas of the Hermès family made the first scarf using a wooden printing block and the finest silk. Since then, the instantly recognisable elaborately patterned scarves have been a must-have for the haut-monde. At auction, Hermès scarves are an affordable way to add a bit of luxury into your wardrobe. Good examples in original boxes typically can be found for £100 to £200, and with a plethora of colours and designs there is a Hermès scarf to suit every taste.

Condition is all important when it comes to luxury goods at auction. Make sure you either view in person, or reputable auction houses will be happy to provide you with a condition report and extra images. Look out for lots in their original boxes or bags and once you have secured your dream lot, keep it safely and it might just prove a good investment for the future.

Luxury accessories and designer fashion from the most desirable labels are on offer in the new Fabulous Designer Fashion Sale on 12th November. Highlights of the sale include the Private Collection of a Gentleman, which offers much coveted pieces such as Hermès Birkin Travel Bags and jackets by Alexander McQueen. To discuss consigning items of luxury goods, contact Sarah White

Sarah White

Sarah White

BA (Hons)

Textiles, Costume & Fashion Specialist, General Valuer

+ 44 (0) 1969 623780

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