Forget the stockmarket. Meet the women who’ve made a mint off designer handbags

While you may think the wisest financial minds invest in property, art or the stockmarket, the savvy investor is putting their money into designer handbags.

The point was proven when a Hermes crocodile-skin Birkin bag sold at Christie’s this month for an eye-watering £162,500, far exceeding its estimate of £70-90,000.

Here, SAMANTHA BRICK and ALICE SMELLIE speak to four women who have invested in handbags — and got a golden return…

I watch the market as others watch shares

Initial cost: £30,000

Current value: £50,000

Fashion consultant Noreen Goodwin, 47, lives in West London with her eight children. She says:

Fashion consultant Noreen Goodwin, 47, lives in West London with her eight children

Fashion consultant Noreen Goodwin, 47, lives in West London with her eight children

Fashion consultant Noreen Goodwin, 47, lives in West London with her eight children

After the various financial scandals of the last decade, I’m not sure anyone totally trusts banks any more. But a decent collection of designer handbags can have better returns than an Isa — and bring you far more enjoyment!

I bought my first — a Dior — in my early 20s after being inspired by Princess Diana. She carried a small, quilted Dior bag, and I thought she was the epitome of sophistication.

My collection includes 30 bags from leading brands including Dior, Chanel and Bottega Veneta. I always keep an eye out for new designers such as Roksanda, whose pieces might become investments in the future, watching the bag market as others do stocks and shares. Although I’m not really a Gucci fan, I buy the odd one because they’re a good bet.

Chanel can be relied upon to at least double in value, so I have some incredible pieces, including a see-through plexiglass petrol tank that I bought for £5,000 in 2014. They now sell for twice the original cost, on the rare occasions they’re available.

But my favourite is a little Chanel Lego bag that I bought six years ago. I use it every week, so I’ve had to send it back to Chanel to be mended a few times. Even though it’s so small it can’t even accommodate an iPhone, prices have almost doubled to around £10,000.   

Second-hand Birkin can cost even more than a new one

Initial cost: £15,000

Current value: £80,000

Luisa Ruocco, 28, is single and lives in West London. She is a social media influencer and says:

Luisa Ruocco, 28, is single and lives in West London. She is a social media influencer

Luisa Ruocco, 28, is single and lives in West London. She is a social media influencer

Luisa Ruocco, 28, is single and lives in West London. She is a social media influencer

For my 19th birthday, I told my mum the only thing I wanted was a Louis Vuitton bag. Though she never told me how much it cost at the time, I suspect it was just over £500.

It was my first designer bag and I wore it almost every day at university. I still have it, and it is now worth £1,500.

Today I own 30 luxury handbags, including six Hermes Birkins, a few classic Chanels and a couple of Yves Saint Laurent numbers. While some were gifts, I bought most of them myself. My collection is currently worth £80,000.

While many people would call this excessive, I’m content to plough my money into bags rather than a car or property.

I’ve never felt guilty about buying them because I know they are accruing value. They are long-term investments, so I have no immediate plans to sell.

I received my first Hermes — a cherry-red Birkin bag — in my early 20s from a generous family member. It’s made out of calf leather, so it isn’t worth as much as the crocodile version, but with a current value of £10,000 it’s not to be sniffed at!

I bought three smaller versions of it in grey, coral and beige at auction because it’s impossible to get on the Hermes waiting list.

I paid the market value of £5,000 each to make sure I got my hands on them, but since then they have risen to a value of more than £10,000 per bag.

Without question, they are my favourite. I’m always complimented on them when I take them out. Any time I cross paths with another woman who has a Birkin on her arm ‘The Look’ passes between us.

People may be shocked to discover that I wear such expensive bags when I am out and about, but I’ve done my homework and I know it’s irrelevant to their resale value if they have been gently used.

A Birkin is so hard to come by that the value of a pre-owned, limited edition version is far beyond what you would ever pay in-store for a new one.

While designer outfits or shoes will always fall out of fashion and are rarely profitable to sell on, a classic handbag will always be in style and repay your investment twice, or even ten times, over. That’s why investing my money in handbags makes perfect financial sense.

My car boot bargain is now worth £7k!

Initial cost: £6,000

Current value: £30,000

Ailsa Russell, 25, is single, lives in London and works as a luxury asset appraiser at Prestige Pawnbrokers. She says:

Ailsa Russell, 25, is single, lives in London and works as a luxury asset appraiser at Prestige Pawnbrokers

Ailsa Russell, 25, is single, lives in London and works as a luxury asset appraiser at Prestige Pawnbrokers

Ailsa Russell, 25, is single, lives in London and works as a luxury asset appraiser at Prestige Pawnbrokers

I’ve been collecting bags since I was 15. I would spend my weekends scouring the charity shops near my parents’ home in Sussex and even pitched up at jumble sales. People may be sceptical, but boy does it pay off.

My best find to date was a battered Hermes Kelly bag at a car boot sale. I paid just £200 for it and sent it off to be repaired. Now it’s worth £7,000. Today I have a collection of 20 bags including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Mulberry and Chanel. Though they cost me just £6,000 in total, they’re worth five times that sum.

I’ve always been financially aware, and initially I planned to invest in classic cars. But when petrol prices started creeping up, I decided to look into bags instead. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

Where possible, I keep them in pristine condition and store them in their dust bags and with their authenticity cards. While I am attracted to all the bags I buy, I can’t let myself be swayed emotionally. Instead, when I look at my Hermes bag I see it as a rather nice down payment for a property in the future.

I’m very careful when it comes to sourcing bags. I avoid London auction houses where everything is incredibly expensive and tend to stick to smaller regional auctions or out of the way places where things that are deemed to be ‘less interesting’ are sold.

I appreciate that for someone of my age it’s a strange area of investment to focus on. But you won’t see me complaining when I’m laughing all the way to the bank!

I know which brands will soar in value

Initial cost: £16,000

Current value: £23,000

Charlotte Staerck, 29, is married to Ben, 32. Together they run the Handbag Clinic and live in Chelsea, West London. She says:

Charlotte Staerck, 29, is married to Ben, 32. Together they run the Handbag Clinic and live in Chelsea, West London

Charlotte Staerck, 29, is married to Ben, 32. Together they run the Handbag Clinic and live in Chelsea, West London

Charlotte Staerck, 29, is married to Ben, 32. Together they run the Handbag Clinic and live in Chelsea, West London

People think that when it comes to buying a bag it’s best to go for something shiny and new. But I can look at an old bag and know within seconds whether it can be restored — and so soar in value. It’s why much of my collection is pre-owned.

Though I’ve been investing in handbags for only four years, I’ve got 20, and at their current market value they’re worth £7,000 more than I paid.

Obviously I am a savvy shopper. I know what brands will increase in price and spend hours researching the market so I can tell what will grow in value and what won’t.

I’m now an expert in authenticating handbags through my work, and it means I’m never caught out by fakes. As any lover of handbags will tell you, your first Chanel is a big achievement. A black Chanel is a timeless classic that won’t ever lose its value. That’s why I also have a 1994 Classic Chanel Maxi, with its huge 24-carat gold-plated CCs. I bought it for £1,800 in 2015 and it’s now worth £2,800.

Precious metalwork on a designer handbag will always make a huge difference to the resale price.

Though it’s not as valuble as most of the bags I own, my favourite is an orange Chanel vintage handbag from 1989. It’s one I would never part with. It’s like my baby! It cost me £200 and is now worth £450.

Friends do ask to borrow my bags, and normally I don’t mind. However, one friend earned herself a lifetime ban after she left a YSL bag behind in a bar. That was £650 down the drain!