Business / Economy

Luxury handbags becoming hot investments

By Wang Zhouqiong (China Daily) Updated: 2015-06-17 10:04

Luxury handbags becoming hot investments

Items that used to be viewed as just luxury, maybe excessive, spending have turned into very attractive investment targets in some cases. [Photo/IC]

Last winter my friend Eva fell in love with a Celine handbag in a luxury department store. After mulling it over for a day, she came back only to find the exclusive item had been sold. She regrets the indecision to this day.

The rarity of luxury handbags, and particularly limited editions or "one-offs", has already attracted the attention of leading auction houses which have now created a new business category around them.

Items that used to be viewed as just luxury, maybe excessive, spending have turned into very attractive investment targets in some cases.

Earlier this month Christie's held its second Handbags & Accessories auction in Hong Kong, which saw some frantic bidding and a world record set for the most expensive bag ever sold at auction-$222,000 for a shiny fuchsia crocodile Hermes Birkin, which was studded with 18-carat white gold and diamond hardware, sold to a phone bidder.

Named after the actress Jane Birkin, the iconic bag has been a hot status symbol for celebrities and socialites for years, reported CNN. Victoria Beckham is said to have 100 of them, while supermodel Kate Moss and singer Jennifer Lopez are other high-profile fans. Chinese actress Zhao Wei has reportedly collected a dozens of Birkin bags.

More than 75 percent of the 300 lots on offer in Hong Kong, which included some of the world's other most coveted handbags, achieved prices well past their upper estimates.

But making a bag collectible, rather than just being a depreciating item, has become an art form.

I recently attended a lecture given by Matthew Rubinger, the international director of handbags and accessories at Christie's, which moved his department from Paris to Hong Kong last year, to focus more closely on the rapidly increasing market in Asia.

I quickly learned that some luxury bags, rather than dropping in value the minute they are bought, can actually gain value if sold at auction.

Wearing a pair of immaculate white cloth gloves, Rubinger carefully showed us various custom-made or limited-edition handbags, under the overall subject, "How to make a bag collectible".

Brand is what people care most about, according to the British expert.

"Collectors have a great appreciation for top designers who show a deep understanding for detailing and craftsmanship."

Rubinger also showed us how to check on the condition of each bag, identify the materials used, and measure the quality of the craftsmanship.

In the case of a Hermes bag you can almost track which individual craftsman made it by the lettering they leave on the inside.

Previous Page 1 2 Next Page

Hot Topics

Editor's Picks