Everything you need to know about Christie’s online-only auction of handbags and accessories
November 3 sees the opening of the online-only auction of handbags and accessories at Christie’s with lots include a rare Hermès 2020 Matte White Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Birkin 25 with Palladium Hardware, a Hermès 2018 Étain Swift Leather Kelly Lakis 28 with Gold Hardware, a rare Louis Vuitton Hermetic Explorer’s Zinc Cabin Trunk from the 1890s and 2014 White Lucite and Crystal Lego Clutch from Chanel. Given the current focus on conscious consumption, and the exponential growth in the re-sale market, serious buyers know that this is the auction to watch carefully. Rachel Koffsky, Christie’s head of sale, handbags and accessories, shares top tips for buying and listing online as well as the most iconic bag ever sold.
How has the resale market for bags grown over the years?
The market for handbags at auction has increased substantially over the past decade. One third of the participants in our handbag auctions are new to Christie’s, and the awareness of the collectability of handbags continues to grow as collectors see pieces achieving record-breaking prices at auction. Our auctions attract men and women of all ages from across the globe. The sale sites at Christie’s for handbags are London, New York and Hong Kong, see a high concentration of engagement, alongside interest from collectors from China, Taiwan, the Middle East, Continental Europe, North America, Australia, and Russia. In addition, the rise of resale sites, social media, famous collectors and influencers all help drive this market. The discussion regarding sustainability in fashion has also increased the visibility of this collecting category.
There is so much debate and conversations on the handbags that increase with value in the resale market. What is your point of view?
It is impossible to say what will increase with value over time—I wish I had a crystal ball and could tell everyone what to invest in today! Pieces that stand the test of time are iconic models from heritage brands, such as the Hermès Birkin or Chanel Flap Bag. Limited edition pieces, runway models and rare bags command high prices at auction, as well. They are distinguished by timeless design and impeccable craftsmanship; the Birkin bag for example has not changed since it emerged on the market over thirty years ago. The pieces are crafted in the atelier, by expert artisans utilising the double needle saddle stitch. This method ensures that for decades after this hand production, if used gently and stored properly, the Birkin will still look great and be a useful addition to a woman or man’s wardrobe. The price appreciation happens to be a great added benefit but the most important aspect is to buy what speaks to you and represents your style.
How do women know what to look for when purchasing a bag virtually?
It is very important to purchase from a reputable source and one of the most important considerations is condition, so always ask for a condition report and more images. Photography and cataloguing are your eyes on the bag. Do your research, Christie’s publishes all sales results so you can get a sense of what similar pieces have achieved at auction.
What advice would you give to women who would like to list their purchases?
Reach out to an expert for advice. It is a great time to sell, as the market is very strong. There is often a lot of value hanging unused in your closet, and whether you are looking to just make room or reinvest in a new bag, specialists at Christie’s are here to guide you in your resale journey.
What’s been the most expensive bag sold?
The most expensive bag sold at auction was sold in Hong Kong, in November of 2017. The piece is an exceptional, Matte White Niloticus Crocodile Himalaya Birkin 30 with 18k white gold and diamond hardware By Hermès, 2011, and it sold for HKD 2,980,000, a world auction record.
And the most iconic?
The most iconic piece sold is the Kelly bag. Considered the first ‘It’ bag, it was designed in the 1930s by Émile-Maurice Hermès for his wife. In the 1950s, Grace Kelly received an iteration of this bag for the film To Catch a Thief (1955). She fell in love with the bag, and it became her signature tote. In 1956, she was photographed using the bag to shield her pregnancy from the paparazzi, and in the 1970s the bag was renamed in her honour.