Wednesday, July 5, 2017

How to Buy Vintage Chanel

Buying designer vintage can be overwhelming, especially when you don't know what to look for. After years of buying vintage collectables for myself, I wanted to spill my best kept consignment secrets. In this new segment I'll be sharing where to find the best deals online and in stores, as well as how to spot an authentic piece. Let's start things off with my favorite designer, past and present; Chanel. Many vintage shoppers are already familiar with online consignment boutiques like Vestiaire Collective and The RealReal. These can be great resources to start off your search, and both sites feature Chanel collections. I've personally never shopped with either website, but I do believe their prices are pretty fair.

E B A Y   I S   Y O U R   F R I E N D

I prefer to use eBay as my main source for designer consignment. I know it can sound scary for those not familiar with the platform, but it is actually where high end vintage retailers find the majority of their Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Hermès inventory. I always look for sellers who ship from Japan, which is a little tip I picked up from shop owners at consignment boutiques like What Goes Around Comes Around and Paris Stations in Manhattan. Japan is probably the best kept vintage secret right now, boasting numerous shops filled with handbags, jewelry and clothing... all in pristine condition. Selling online is just now becoming a popular concept in Japanese culture, inlcuding eBay. This is opening up a whole new market for vintage lovers around the world (I'm already planning my dream trip to Tokyo)! Take the classic vintage Chanel 2.55 Quilted Bag for example... It would normally retail in the states for around $4500, but you can find the exact same handbag in better condition and for half the price on eBay from a Japanese seller. The same goes for jewelry...



J E W E L R Y

Now for my favorite part, the jewels! Most of my vintage Chanel jewelry collection comes from the Manhattan vintage boutique; What Goes Around Comes Around. I mentioned WGACA and a few other shops in my New York City Vintage Shopping Guide. When I was a jewelry designer at Marc Jacobs, our Soho office was right around the corner from WGACA and I would always find an excuse to pop in for "research" on my lunch break. They have a long glass case, front and center at the entrance, dripping with golden Chanel brooches, charm bracelets, long pendants and everything else you could imagine. Insider tip: If you're planning on buying more than one item, they are usually willing to negotiate.

O N E

Most of the pieces I come across are from the 1980's or the 1990's. Gold and bold was big during these decades, and Chanel embraced this aesthetic whole heartedly. Vintage jewelry and handbag hardware is 24k gold plated, which raises the value on vintage items since the brand discontinued gold plating a few years ago.

T W O

In addition to their high plating standards, each piece of jewelry should be stamped with "Made in France" as well as the collection's season and year. While everything should be stamped, not everything has a jumbo CC logo on the front.

T H R E E

Be sure to look out for other classic Chanel motifs like the No. 5 perfume bottle, the Camélia flower, the quilted purse, the clover or the straw hat. And in general I never look twice at something that shows signs of tarnishing. Minor scuffs and scratches are to be expected.


 C L O T H I N G

I usually come across reasonably priced vintage Chanel clothing at one of my favorite Manhattan vintage destinations; the Chelsea Flea Market, only open on the weekends. Be sure to arrive early for the best finds. And right across the street is another must see; the Showplace Antique and Design Center, filled with multiple floors of vintage furniture and fashion vendors. You'll find Chanel gems tucked away inside a few of the fashion booths. Since clothing is difficult to judge the fit through photos, I usually prefer to shop those infamous tweed jackets in person.

O N E

I always check the label, which should have the collection's season and year indicated. The buttons should have the CC logo incorporated into the design, in some cases the backside of the buttons can be stamped.

T W O

When looking at a tweed jacket, I always check to make sure there is a small chain fastened towards the bottom of the inside jacket hem. This small detail is still used throughout Chanel's tweed jacket styles to weigh them down for a clean fit.

T H R E E

Whenever I am traveling to a new city, I always look up local re-sale shops. Most high end luxury consignment shops will always have a small rack dedicated to Chanel tweed jackets.


H A N D B A G S

Most of my vintage Chanel handbag collection comes from various estate sales and consignment shops like Vintage Martini, usually a matter of being in the right place at the right time. I also picked up my pink cosmetic Chanel bag (shown in the first image) at What Goes Around Comes Around for a special birthday splurge a few years ago. But knowing what I do now about eBay, I will probably search there first for future buys! 

O N E

Similar to Chanel jewelry and clothing, all handbags should be stamped with the collection's season and year. You can find this on a little sticker inside the bag, usually located by the corner. Remember, vintage Chanel handbag hardware is 24k gold plated, so watch out for signs of tarnishing. 

T W O

The most common types of leather used are lambskin and caviar. Lambskin is smooth while caviar has a pebbled texture. Keep in mind that black Chanel handbags will be more affordable. Anything in color was unique to the collection's season which can make a handbag rare and more expensive. 

T H R E E

Another detail to check is the stitching that makes up the signature quilting pattern. The stitching should line up and meet where the flap folds over in front of the bag. Most handbag styles also have a small pocket on the back side, stitching should line up here as well. 

I've shared my shop directory below listing each place I have either purchased or come across vintage Chanel...

Dallas, Texas // Vintage Martini
Dallas, Texas // Luxury Garage Sale
Dallas, Texas // Clothes Circuit
Austin, Texas // Feathers Boutique
Manhattan, New York // What Goes Around Comes Around
Manhattan, New York // Showplace Antique and Design Center
Manhattan, New York // Chelsea Flea Market
Manhattan, New York // Paris Stations
Manhattan, New York // Resurrection
Los Angeles, California // The Paper Bag Princess
Los Angeles, California // The Way We Wore

Happy shopping vintage lovers!
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1 comment

  1. Great tips. I did not know about the chain detail on the tweed jackets !

    ReplyDelete

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