Buying designer handbags on the cheap is usually a fool’s game – I know because I’ve done it.
When I was 19 it was the too-good-to-be-true eBay purchases – Gucci handbags and Tiffany necklaces (if I remember rightly…) items that broke, fell apart or tarnished in a distinctly un-designer fashion.
When I was 21 it was the street stalls lining the roads in Italy (when I lived in Pisa ) – I had a beautiful Fendi Spy Bag (I actually kinda still stand by that purchase, I haggled long and hard for a decent one, she was the ‘it’ bag at the time and she’s still going strong – albeit a fake and in storage at my parents’ house), a few very suspect Gucci wallets and some dodgy Prada sunglasses.
Don’t judge me – I was young, they were everywhere and you’re no one on the mean streets of Tuscany if you’re not in Diesel jeans, high heels, large sunglasses and toting a ‘designer’ handbag.
But now as a proper (semi) adulting adult – I try to stick to the real deal. I have a couple of beautiful Kate Spade purses (those secret 75% off sales are usually very hard to refuse) and very recently I saw a handbag on Tradesy that I just couldn’t let go…
Let’s rewind quickly a couple of years…
It was 2013 when I first spotted the Mulberry Willow.
Mulberry, the iconic British brand – synonymous with quality leather and craftsmanship – had branched out from the classic Bayswater, their buckled Roxanne and the achingly cool Alexa. They had created the perfect envelope tote (in my humble opinion). Smooth lines and beautifully structured with her oversized detachable clutch (I mean really, she’s two handbags in one!) the chunky gold zippers and shiny hardware it was totally love at first sight. The Mulberry Willow had to be mine.
I immediately (and with only a hint of shame) tried to find a replica – on my admin assistant’s salary I could never afford the $2k+ price tag. But already, in my mid-twenties, I was disillusioned with the fakes. Instead, I pushed her to the back of my mind and tried to come to terms with the fact that she would never be mine.
Then a few days ago, with a birthday imminent (I’m starting the excuses already…) and a slightly better job, I decided to take a quick look on Tradesy and there she was…
Images via Tradesy
So many seasons older, and no longer available to purchase from Mulberry, she’s now a geriatric in fashion years (they’re like dog-years except they go by even faster) but I didn’t care. She’d never been used and she’s a classic, a statement piece and like all of the other icons she’ll only get better with age – I would say like Sophia Loren but, since she’s a British bag, we’ll go with Audrey Hepburn or Dame Helen Mirren.
Emerald green and made of the thickest, most sumptuous, supple and buttery leather you could ever dream of – it’s safe to say that I don’t regret my purchase for one second. And, because of that, I wanted to share a bit about my experience with Tradesy – a little review, 100% honest and unbiased with some points to consider – so here goes:
1. You are not going to be getting $2-$3k+ handbag for pennies. While providing a significant discount from retail price, these are still genuine items and command a hefty price tag, even second hand.
2. For the best deals consider older or less established styles – it’s hard to get a good discount on the current ‘it’ bags since no one is letting them go.
3. Following on from point #2 – carefully consider what sort of condition you are willing to live with as pay-off against price. For example: I wanted a bag in excellent condition so I went with an older style that isn’t as in demand. Possibly I could have afforded something more current in my budget if I could have overlooked an ink stain, some mild watermarks or a stud missing.
4. Do your research – Tradesy (along with many other sites of this ilk) claims to verify authenticity but in reality that is impossible to guarantee. It is imperative that you do your own independent research and there are multiple brand guidelines online. Pay close attention to key details and carefully cross reference them with the pictures of the item you are looking to purchase.
For example: After painstakingly checking many Mulberry authentication guides I took note of the following key points
- The Mulberry tree or RiRi stamp on the underneath of the zip pulls.
- The delicately-stamped logo on the metal disc/name plate and the negative space between the leaves on the tree.
- The laser etched font of the serial number.
- The quality flat head screws on the main plate.
These details vary by brand, by model and by vintage – so please, please do your homework.
5. If you’re at all uncertain, and even if you just want a second opinion, consider using Purse Forum’s ‘Authenticate This’ threads in order to utilise the experience of someone that really knows what they’re looking for and have them cast an expert eye over your purse. Yes – an eagle-eyed bidder might be alerted to your lusted after potential purchase and swoop in, but it’s possibly a small price to pay for the peace of mind and security spending your hard-earned savings.
6. You have 4 days to lodge the returns process and even then it’s only for Tradesy credits. That’s not very long to make up your mind.
7. Tradesy offers an authenticity promise. If you do not believe that your item is genuine you can send it back at no cost for expert authentication and a full refund if your item is found to be counterfeit. (US orders only)
Overall my experience has been very positive and I may already have a couple of items on my wishlist that I’ll be researching and possibly saving for…
Have any of you had experiences either positive or negative with nearly-new designer purchases? Let me know your thoughts. Do you have any advice?
This is not a sponsored post – it is an honest account of my experience using a re-sale website.