A Sotheby’s-Inspired Guide to Collecting Luxury Bags

So, you have decided you love luxury bags enough to start collecting them. Where do you start, and how do you build an incredible collection that is the envy of the luxury bag-collecting world?

For help, we turned to Sotheby’s, a clear authority in this field. The auction house recently concluded the sale of a handbag-themed collection dubbed The Art of Collecting Handbags: The Visionary Collection of Joseph Lau. The sale, which is the first of a two-part auction, featured a total of 77 handbags ranging from a limited-edition bronze chèvre metallic Kelly 25 Sellier priced at 400,000 – 600,000 HKD, to a Birkin 25 in shiny porosus crocodile with 18k white gold and diamond hardware priced at 1-2 million HKD. There are also other Hermès handbags like a geranium matte-coloured Jypsiere 28 with palladium hardware and a mini Constance 18 in porosus crocodile with gold hardware.

Collecting luxury bags from Fendi, Hermes and Balenciaga
Thinking of collecting luxury bags? Read on for some tips to consider. Image courtesy of Bloomberg

How does one build such an impressive line-up of highly sought-after, collectable and desirable handbags? Well, here are some ideas based on this first sale

Determine exactly what type of bags you want to collect

Are you looking to collect handbags? Travel bags? Bags made with a certain type of material? Bags from a particular brand only or leather bags across different luxury brands?

Different Hermes handbags
Determine what your niche would be. Image courtesy of The New York Times

As with everything, finding a niche helps you to make better-informed decisions on what exactly you want to collect, and what to ignore. The more specific your collection is, the easier it is to become an expert in it.

Once you have settled on the type of bag you want, it is time to

Clearly define your ‘why’

Why exactly do want to start collecting bags? Do you wish to pass them down to the next generation? Or it is a passion you’re hoping to turn into a business someday? Are you collecting as an investment, or you’re collecting just simply because?

black woman with pen taking notes in planner
Understand the reason behind your desire to begin collecting luxury bags. Image courtesy of SHVETS production via Pexels.

Having a clearly-defined ‘why’ guides you in every decision you make at every step of your collecting journey.

Now you’ve gotten that out of the way, you may want to

Build a theme

A theme is, in simple terms, the recurrent idea.

In the case of Joseph Lau’s collection, the apparent recurring theme is rare Hermès handbags. Whether it was bags designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier when he was creative director from 2004 to 2010, or rare vintage pieces like the 1997 rose bonbon mini Kelly 20, a majority of the handbags are from the House of Hermès.

collecting luxury bags can be limited to a specific type like these chanel handbags
You can choose to have different themes for your luxury bag collection. Image courtesy of Open for Vintage

Your theme at some point could be ‘ultra rare Chanel bags.’ At another, ‘handbags designed by xxx designer.’ You can however decide to skip this and just choose a niche you’re comfortable with.

Have a budget

Building a theme or finding a niche, all these are important. But without a budget, your collection might die before it even takes off.

Determine exactly how much you’re willing to spend per purchase, then

Research each bag thoroughly

Even if this is simply a passion, you want to be sure that whatever bag you are adding to your collection can retain its value while remaining a fashionable vintage item for years to come.

model clutching the Bottega Veneta Jodie mini
Collecting luxury bags is so much more than adding all the bags you fancy to your stash. Image courtesy of Harrods

You really do not want to be stuck with a once-trending, pricey relic that would look out of place in the future.

Know everything that there is to know on storage and preservation

Your collection would only be useful for years to come if it is stored properly. Learn all the important ways to take care of, and properly store all the bags in your collection so that they remain truly immortal.

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