Handbags have made their way onto the 'must-have' list of investible products. The last few years have seen investors increasing their spend on luxury products and fashionistas collectively expanding their collections – as a result, the handbag business is booming.
Earlier this year, Bonhams created a 'handbag and fashion' department within its luxury division. This is no great surprise; handbags and other luxury fashion items are no longer seen simply as fashion accessories, many are now collectable items. Bonhams' confirmed four sales per year were to be held, with each said to offer between 200 and 300 lots. These are set to appeal to both collectors and couture shoppers.
Right now, the luxury goods market is seeing existential growth, particularly in the pre-owned sector. GlobalData estimates that the pre-owned market for all luxury goods is set to be worth $51 billion by 2023, that's over double the estimate of $24 billion in 2018. This huge increase is said to be driven by multiple factors, but certainly includes increasing social-consciousness and environmental concerns of consumers, as well as the increasing rarity of certain items.
In 2019, the value of Hermes handbags rose by 13% - the biggest increase of any collectable asset class. Further growth is expected over the coming years (according to the Knight Frank wealth report). Interestingly, a 2017 study showed that the price of the handbag has never fluctuated downward.
Many see the purchase of a luxury handbag as the perfect way to combine an investment with a hobby. In July this year at a Christie's auction, the Hermes Himalaya Birkin bag sold for £230,000, setting a new world record. It was bought by an online buyer, which also makes it the most expensive handbag ever bought in an online-only auction.
Rachel Koffsky, head of sales for handbags and accessories at Christie's, said, 'The Himalayan handbag is the most collectable handbag in the world and the holy grail for collectors. The highest level of craftsmanship goes into making them and they represent the pinnacle of craftsmanship. They are very rare, but the exact number is not known. Our clients are international collectors, most are females who want to buy them to use and show off. Some do keep them for display, but they are wearable works of art and [others] wear them only for a very special occasion such as a wedding.'
Other items on sale included a rare matte white Hermès Himalaya Birkin 30, which sold for $150,000 (£114,000), a Hermès Mini Picnic Kelly 20 II that sold for $56,250 (£42,000) and a limited-edition Hermès Bleu Marine Faubourg Birkin 20, which sold for $200,000 (£153,000).
In total, the online auction generated $2,266,750 (£1.73m) – the highest total for an online handbag sale at Christie's. Christie's also holds the record for the biggest single sale of a handbag at an auction; this was set in 2017 when another Himalaya Birkin was sold for £305,000.
This link will take you to a useful resource from Bonhams on what to look for when buying handbags at auction – the right purchase should add to both your wardrobe and your wallet in years to come.
The rapid rate of investment in handbags demonstrates that these luxury items have, without a doubt, joined the ranks of other passion assets such as luxury watches, fine art, jewellery, and classic cars. All these are items of high-value status that can be acquired, enjoyed, and in many cases can appreciate in value over the years.
When it comes to protecting your valuable assets, you need an insurance broker who understands and shares your passion, and a programme designed to suit your needs.
At Lockton, we take the complex and make it simple. We make sure that the things that you care about are insured properly and with minimal disruption to your busy life.