February 1, 2020

Designer handbags in 2020

, , by MARCY CARMACK | Edit

For my first post of 2020 I looked back to see how far we have come in the last decade in the designer market. The dynamics are changing at a faster rate than ever before. We have seen a dramatic shift in how business is done and a shift in the perception of consignment. As designer goods became more and more unattainable, the proliferation of the secondhand market boomed. Consignment used to be dusty cramped shops for the intrepid. When we started the RealReal in 2011 the elevation of secondhand goods began. Today designer consignment while less than brand spanking new, still commands a hefty sum. Gone are the days of getting a steal on a secondhand Chanel bag.

A statistic that I stumbled on when doing this post was too compelling not to mention. thredUP reports that secondhand fashion is growing at a 21x faster rate than retail.

For those that don't want to pay for a new or used Chanel bag, there is the hush hush market of designer fakes. The replica market gets bigger and bigger every year with our voracious appetite for anything designer. The difference is that yesteryear the bags were bought in person on Canal St in New York City or somewhere else in a semi-secretive way. If the suppliers were caught there were hefty fines. Today they are bought online and you can get advice from a subset of Reddit.com called the RepLadies. They are a self-described "happy place" and discussion page about replicas and fashion at any level. This group has grown exponentially with their online presence to 71.9k members.

Elle.com says a fifth of all luxury buyers have a fake and they probably bought it using social media.  I started to wonder how every woman in O'Hare airport had a designer bag—I kind of forgot about the fake market for a second. The demand for this status symbol is at an all time high. Now that every woman has one no matter what iteration do you really want one? I think the answer is still yes. Designer or consignment is more than I want to spend but I haven't really been interested in fakes which are referred to in air quotes "Chanel bags".  Nothing wrong with it and never say never but I just don't scour the internet for bags. I recently bought a couple of high quality leather handbags the old fashioned way in person. Each company finding a great niche in the market because of the high prices out there. 

Is it safe to say that we are awash in handbags of all types? Maybe that means the prices will come down with all that supply. Not yet—not until the next recession. Oops another hush hush topic.