Head of London department of Christie’s International Handbags and Accessories, Rachel Koffsky reports to Vogue Paris that the market has changed dramatically in the past 10 years. “Out of the recession, we’ve seen women looking at their handbags as an asset and not just a frivolous accessory,” she observes. “We’re seeing this female collector emerge. They’re starting to look at these pieces in the same way that perhaps men were traditionally looking at watch collections. There’s an awareness in terms of what a collectible handbag means and the value of these pieces on the primary and secondary market.”
The rarity is absolutely an important factor in bags, as is the condition (graded from one, for new, through to six, for damaged) according to Koffsky. Then there’s the model, age, materials, label, size (there’s been a significant trend for small bags at auction lately) and, more subjectively speaking, how keen a bidder you have in the room on the day. “For a collector who’s been looking for this [said] bag for 10 years, they’ll pay any amount for it,” says Koffsky. The room usually ranges from the first-time buyer, who will walk away wearing the piece she just bought, to the seasoned top buyer, who will treat it like art displayed in specially curated gallery-esque closets.
“There’s a life cycle to a bag when it comes to limited editions,” says Koffsky. Expect a huge premium on the market to begin with, then give it a year to 18 months and it may experience a dip before it comes back. It might be a celebrity or important influencer that creates the renewed interest. Season to season, the market is prone to fluctuate.