By CODO Fashion Experts
Louis Vuitton is one of the oldest names in luxury fashion, yet to this day it maintains its spot in the “Big Three”, alongside fashion powerhouses Chanel and Hermès. Since its inception in 1854, Louis Vuitton has come a long way from making its quintessential high quality, incredibly durable and stylish luggage trunks. However, these qualities that brought the trunk maker to fame remain deeply rooted in today’s most popular and sought-after Louis Vuitton products: handbags. Here’s why we love them, and why you should too:
Quality: Meticulously handcrafted with immaculate attention to detail, Louis Vuitton bags set the bar for quality. From their leather quality to their monograms and stitches, every detail is exactly as it should be, and the bags just feel solid in the hand. The signature Damier print and leather/canvas combinations make Vuitton bags super attractive to the eye, too.
Durability: Drawing upon its past trunk making experience, Louis Vuitton is able to provide the highest quality without sacrificing durability. In fact, Louis Vuitton makes some of the most durable handbags in the industry: their coated leather and canvas easily repel dirt and water, and are far more scratch and tear resistant than any other luxury brand’s materials. After all, LV’s canvas today is the same that was used on their trunks in the 1800s. What this means is that a Vuitton handbag can last you decades, if not your whole lifetime—and not by just sitting in a dust bag in your closet. You can carry it with you everywhere you go: wear it with confidence and toss it around without fear of damage and dirt.
Value: Louis Vuitton bags are instantly associated with luxury, and not just for the name brand. Their value stems from the company’s rich history, and also the quality and durability of the handbags themselves. Vuitton bags, therefor, are an investment: they rarely lose value, and because they keep their condition for ages to come they command high resale prices. Many would say Vuitton bags get better with age; some even prefer their Louis canvas aged with the slight patina, giving the bag even more character.
Buying a pre-loved Louis Vuitton bag is really the way to go. You get the quality, durability and value, all at a lower-than-retail price. However, beware of fakes! There are many imitation and ‘replica’ bags out there trying to copy Louis Vuitton’s luxurious essence. Ensure that the bag in question has an authenticity card or has been professionally authenticated before purchasing!
By CODO Fashion Experts
The Birkin bag is the ultimate fashion status symbol, guaranteed to turn heads and invite awe-inspired gazes everywhere it goes. However, few people really know the truth: that the Birkin’s legendary status today comes from rather humble beginnings and a chance encounter.
The Birkin story starts in 1980. The ‘it-girl’ of the time: British actress and style icon Jane Birkin. By some stroke of luck, Jane Birkin finds herself sitting next to Hermès chief executive, Jean-Louis Dumas on an airplane.
Jane Birkin recalled the following events from a 2012 interview from the Hermès show: as she was reaching to place her ‘bag’, a straw-woven basket, into the airplane's luggage compartment, it fell and spilled its contents all over the floor, leaving Jane scrambling to collect everything in rather tight and uncomfortable quarters. Jean-Louis Dumas, wondering why such a famous personality would use a straw basket for jet setting, offered to design Jane a custom bag.
(pictured: Jane Birkin)
Jane Birkin recalls drawing out her conception on an airplane sickness bag, and requesting from Dumas a bag with large dimensions, pockets suitable to carry all her essentials, and a closure mechanism to ensure there would not be another falling basket incident. After four years of collaboration, the Birkin bag, as we know it today was born in 1984. The ultra famous actress once said she is most comfortable in worn jeans, Converse sneakers and a men’s shirt. Beauty, comfort and functionality: when you look at a Birkin bag today, it is almost as if Dumas infused Jane’s character into the handbag itself.
Featuring extremely high quality construction, the Hermès Birkin sits on sturdy, metal ‘feet’ known as Clou, making it incredibly durable and wear-resistant. The signature lock and clochette closure and twin handles reflect Jane’s desire for functionality, ensuring the Hermès Birkin can keep its contents safe and secured for travel. Today, the Birkin comes in many sizes, material choices and colors, with some ultra-rare material Birkins fetching upwards of $300,000 at auction.
If you would like a more detailed look into the Hermès Birkin’s anatomy and qualities, material options, its investment value, check out our other article here.
By CODO Fashion Experts
You might have heard that the Hermes Birkin bag is worth its weight in gold…but it turns out that this is a massive understatement. The empty Birkin weighs in at around two pounds; the same weight in gold today amounts to some $37,500. The most expensive handbag ever sold at auction—fetching over $370,000 at the June 2017 Christie’s auction in Hong Kong—was, unsurprisingly, an Hermes Birkin, called the “Himalayan” due to its albino-white crocodile material and diamond-encrusted palladium hardware resembling the famous mountain region. (Pictured: 2014 Himalayan Birkin).
What makes the Birkin so expensive? The bags, which generally retail from $11,900 for the most basic calfskin models, and up to $150,000 for the most desirable crocodile and alligator trims, are incredibly rare. Production is kept minimal, and the bags are not advertised. Even with tens of thousands of dollars in hand, one cannot just walk into an Hermes boutique and ask for a Birkin—there likely are none in stock. Each bag is handmade by a single master artisan who identifies their work with a unique serial number. Back when waiting lists were a thing, they would take up to six years! Today, the Hermes Birkin is quite the unicorn, and procuring one is next to impossible. Your best bet would be the secondary market, however prices only continue to rise, making the Birkin Bag one of the best potential investments of your life. In fact, Birkins outperformed both gold and the S&P 500 stocks over the past 35 years with an annual return of 14.2%, compared with gold’s 1.5% and stocks’ 8.7%. And with Hermes’ recent elimination of the wait list and plans to further lower the current ultra-limited production, prices will likely continue to grow.
Most Birkins you might come across will vary with their construction materials. The choice of leather is the most influential factor in determining a Birkin’s value. Here are the commonly used leather types Hermes uses in Birkin construction:
Box Calf Leather: Box calf is very smooth and soft leather, typically used in Kelly bag construction. It is rather fragile as scratches and blemishes appear very easily on the matte surface, making the bag less resilient to everyday wear and tear. Box leather is commonly used in basic Birkin models at the bottom of the price range.
Ostrich Leather: Easily recognizable among the other popular leather choices for its soft touch and large pores, ostrich leather is an iconic choice in the Birkin family. Along with box calf leather, ostrich Birkins sit at the beginning of the Birkin price range, however provide a classic and intriguing look.
Clemence Leather: Also comes from the calf, however it has notable differences from Box Calf leather. Clemence has a grainier feel and is far more resistant to wear and tear, making it a great choice for everyday use.
Epsom Leather: Epsom is very similar to Clemence, however with finer grains and an even more scratch-resistant qualities. Epsom Birkins are easy to maintain and provide a perfect balance of beauty and function.
Togo Leather: Togo Leather also comes from the calf; however, unlike Clemence and Epsom the Togo leather features softer, larger grains. It too is fairly scratch resistant, but its softness still requires proper maintenance.
The most highly sought-after Birkin bags are those made with the leather of apex predators: alligator and crocodile. This is also where the most confusion around Birkin bags arises, as people commonly mistake alligator for crocodile and vice versa; however, there are some significant differences and identification features that differentiate alligator Birkins from their crocodile counterparts. Firstly, alligators dwell in freshwater while crocodiles live in saltwater. Crocodile skins also have small pores near the bottom of the scales; alligators do not have these pores. As crocodiles are typically larger than alligators, their individual scales are larger, as well as make for better options for bigger bags, like 35cm and 40cm Birkins. Alligator leather has smaller and more symmetrical scales, and is commonly used in Kelly bags and smaller 30cm Birkins.
There are two main types of crocodile leather used in Birkin construction: Niloticus crocodile (sourced from the Nile river valley) and Porosus crocodile (sourced from Asia and Australia). The alligator used by Hermes comes from the Mississippi river valley. Crocodile Birkins are extremely hard to come by in the primary market, and are typically not available to customers who do not spend six figures or more at the Hermes store. Furthermore, the price and desirability of Alligator and Crocodile Birkins is also affected by the symmetry and aesthetics of the skin and scales themselves. Every bag, therefore, is unique compared to other bags of the same leather type. Of these three leather types, Porosus crocodile is the most rare and desirable, therefor the most expensive.
Niloticus crocodile Birkins are easily identified by the two dots next to the Hermes logo
Porosus crocodile Birkins are easily identified by the chevron or ‘carat’ mark next to the Hermes logo and are the rarest of three skin types.
Alligator Mississippiensis: Alligator Birkins are easily identifiable by the square marking next to the Hermes logo. Alligator is much easier for Hermes to acquire thus these bags are not as rare as their crocodile counterparts, however Alligator Birkins remain top tier in terms of collectability and price.
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By CODO Fashion Experts
This guide contains everything you need to know about those Chanel bags that make for the best investment pieces. Below you will find sizing, styles and quick descriptions on what makes the bag an asset.
Easily identified by its simple, boxy silhouette, diamond-quilted leather and signature metal hardware, the Flap is a staple bag for any wardrobe. There are three main kinds of Flaps: the vintage 2.55, the Classic Flap and the Reissue2.55. See our Flap Bag Guide for the complete history behind Chanel’s Flaps and their key features.
Most sought-after classic Chanel styles:
Classic Bag Descriptions:
Boy Bag: Inspired by the love of Coco’s life, Arthur “Boy” Capel, Karl Lagerfeld created the Chanel Boy collection in the boyish spirit and charm Chanel was always known for.
2.55 Reissue: Karl Lagerfeld’s revival of Chanel’s original 2.55, featuring the rectangular mademoiselle lock, crinkled calfskin leather and tarnished metal chain.
Classic Flap: The bag that arguably brought Chanel back to life. Designed by Karl Lagerfeld in 1984, the Classic Flap is perhaps the most iconic and sought-after bag Chanel ever released.Shopping Tote: Released in three sizes (Grand, Petite and Petite Timeless) the shopping tote is made in caviar leather and is easily identifiable by the large CC logo on the front fascia.
Medallion Tote: Unfortunately discontinued, the Medallion is a quintessential classic Chanel tote bag. Its signature feature is the large golden CC medallion zipper.
Cerf Tote: While it lacks the staple quilted leather exterior, the Cerf is a classic we know and love. Released in 2005, it is available in 4 sizes (Small, Regular, Tall, XL).
Cambon Ligne: The extremely popular and sought-after Cambon Ligne was originally released in 2004 and made of soft calfskin leather. Coming in many color and style combinations, its signature feature is the grand offset CC logo. Mostly discontinued in its larger forms, the Cambon Ligne style can still be found in wallets and wallet-on-chain bags.
Wallet-On-Chain: With the ability to carry the essentials and leave the big tote at home, the WOC style is extremely popular. It is available in several styles including Classic, Cambon, Camellia and Timeless.
Timeless Clutch: Known for its interesting crescent shape and “kisslock” CC frame closure at the top, the timeless is typically made of lambskin or caviar.
Camera Case: A vary rare piece to come across, the Camera Case can be found in various sizes. Part of the Classic Collection.
Design Elements and Materials:
These Chanel bags have an appeal that is not only visual, but also tangible. From a distance, their classy silhouettes and metal hardware command attention, however it is Chanel’s attention to detail and fine choices of materials that contribute to the luxurious feel we know and love. Finally, every design element of the bags’ materials is a source of inspiration from the world Coco lived in—owning a Chanel bag is like owning a piece of that heritage, contributing to the intangible qualities that make Chanel bags such wonderful heirlooms and assets.
The signature burgundy hue we tend to find on the interior of Chanel bags is inspired by Coco’s childhood uniform she wore throughout her time at the Aubazine Abbey orphanage. Military satchels of the time were a source of inspiration for the shape Coco’s original 2.55. The trademark diamond-stitched quilted leather we see on so many Chanel bags was borrowed from the jackets worn by men at horse races.
Perfect for your everyday bag, grained calfskin or caviar leather can withstand the elements and is known for its durability. It is often used on flaps and especially totes for this very reason.
Patent Leather: Glossy and youthful, Chanel’s patent leather is a key element of classic style bags. Patent leather does, however, require more maintenance, as scratches and scuff marks on the bag’s surface are easily visible
Super soft and plush with a matte finish, lambskin leather has an incredibly luxurious feel. However, it is very fragile and must be taken care of throughout its lifetime, otherwise it will flatten and the bag may slouch. If you have a slouching bag, check out our CODO bag inserts (here)! They’re the perfect solution to this all-too-common problem.
Crinkled Calfskin: Most commonly used in Reissue bags, crinkled calfskin provides that vintage look in a soft yet durable package. Because of these qualities, Chanel bags made of crinkled calfskin are ideal daily carry bags, perfect if you want to bring luxury and class anywhere and everywhere you go.
By CODO Fashion Experts
In a time when societal standards prevented women from shoulder carrying their bags, the visionary Coco Chanel wanted to go hands-free. Inspired by military satchels of the time, featuring diamond-patterned leather, rectangular metal locking mechanism and a lengthy, all-chain strap to be worn on the shoulder, Chanel released the 2.55 Flap Bag. The name “2.55” stems from the time of its creation: “2” for February and “55” for the year 1955.
(Pictured below: a vintage 2.55 bag. Note the all-chain strap lengthy enough for shoulder carry, and the original Mademoiselle Lock)
(Pictured below: the original Mademoiselle closure)
From a distance, the vintage 2.55 with its rectangular silhouette, quilted leather pattern and metal accessories resembles many other Chanel handbags. However, there are several notable features which distinguish the original 2.55 from the many other Flaps Chanel has to offer. First and foremost is the lock: The original 2.55 featured the rectangular “Mademoiselle” lock—it is said that the mechanism was given this moniker because Coco never married.
The Mademoiselle Lock was a mainstay of Chanel Flaps until the legendary designer Karl Lagerfeld assumed the role of Chanel’s creative director in 1983. During this period of Chanel’s decline, Lagerfeld revitalized the Flap with a new interlocking CC logo lock and woven leather/chain straps.
Above is a side-by-side comparison of original 2.55 Flap bag (left) and Classic Chanel Flap Bag (right) as conceived by Karl Lagerfeld. Note the difference in the locks and straps, as well as the creased, vintage appearance of the leather on the original 2.55 Flap compared to the Classic Flap’s more youthful skin tone.
Karl Lagerfeld’s modernized take on the original Flap bag breathed new life into the fashion house, his design becoming so popular that the original 2.55 was taken out of production. The CC lock Flap Bag, assuming the name “Classic Flap” had taken over, becoming the staple bag in any woman’s wardrobe. However, Lagerfeld, a master of visionary design elements rooted in classic traditions, placed the original 2.55 back into production in 2005 to commemorate the 2.55 bag’s 50th anniversary, with the same exact specifications (albeit with slight alterations to the strap, inner flap and exterior leather) as Chanel’s original 2.55 Flap. This remake is known as the 2.55 Reissue Flap. With its slightly tarnished chain, tumbled leather and vintage closure lock, the Reissue has reclaimed its fame and remains a highly collectible addition to your closet.
Technically, only those 2.55s produced in 2005 should be called “Reissues”, as reissue is simply a term for renewed production of an item that was taken out of production. However, for convenience, all 2.55 flap bags resembling the original 2.55 (i.e.have an all-chain strap and rectangular mademoiselle lock) are collectively known as Reissues, whereas all 2.55 flaps resembling Lagerfeld’s conception (i.e. CC lock and leather/metal interwoven straps) are commonly referred to as Classic flap bags.