The success of websites like The RealReal, Vestiaire Collective, and Rebagg – just to name a few – indicates that the online market for pre-owned luxury goods is significant and growing. And in the secondhand market, not all bags are created equal. In fact, some tend to be worth significantly more than other at re-sale. We already knew this; in fact, every time an Hermès Birkin or Kelly bag goes up for auction, we see this principal in action. This past spring, an Hermès Birkin Himalayan bag in white crocodile, circa 2009, set a new record for the most expensive handbag sold at auction at Christie’s Paris, selling for $171,675. That record was supplemented in June when an Asian phone bidder paid $222,912 for a Shiny Fuchsia Porosus Crocodile Diamond Birkin 35 in a Christie's Hong Kong auction.
With this in mind, it is not surprising that Paris-based design house Hermès’s bags land in one of the top two spots on the list in terms of average price increases, according to a study conducted by Exane BNP Paribas and the secondhand online retailer Instant Luxe. Hermès has seen the average price of its handbags increase 23.6 percent in the first half of 2015 alone versus the same period last year, followed by Chanel and Céline, “possibly a consequence of the Kelly’s recent revival, and continued strong demand from Chinese consumers,” the researchers write. “It's the Chinese who have dictated the Birkin market.”
In the number one spot: Louis Vuitton, which has extended its volume lead in both handbags and small leather goods in the first half of 2015. Hermès heads the list in terms of average price increases. In third place: Chanel.
WWD reports on the study: “By volume, Chanel and Hermès, the second and third strongest sellers, together currently make up 40 percent of Louis Vuitton’s worth in handbag sales. The first Italian players in the ranking, Gucci and Prada, combined are worth only 11 percent of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s top brand.”
Exane BNP Paribas noted that the faster momentum in the secondhand market is good news short-term. “This suggests higher brand desirability and top-of-mind position. Longer-term, this is also a challenge: higher top-of-mind could come at the expense of perceived exclusivity. Yet, it is obviously better to be relevant to consumers and having to manage perceived exclusivity over time, than to be irrelevant in the first place.”