[IMGCAP(1)]I have recently enjoyed watching the new Bravo TV series Fashion Hunters. The show follows the fashion divas at Second Time Around in New York City, an upscale consignment retailer, as they seek out the designer and vintage duds their stylish shoppers are searching for.

From an elegant vintage leather handbag to a stylish little black cocktail dress from last season, Second Time Around store clerks spend time with Upper East Side ladies who lunch and downtown hipsters alike, to seek out items like these that will fit in well with the chic and smart store merchandise that their clients are looking for. Everyone walking through the doors of the shop is looking for a deal for their duds on consignment, or there to discover their next fashion find.

Watching a recent episode featuring a purse party, where Second Time Around hosted a small elite group of women to sell and trade their Hermes Birkin bags, often referred to as the “Rolls-Royce of handbags,” inspired me to look into the hierarchy of designer handbags, and seek out any available statistics rating these costly accessories by their resale value.

As many in accounting and finance know, ROI (return on investment) is incredibly important, and this episode showed that these designer purses in particular, depending on color, condition and rarity, had an excellent resale value, sometimes even more than the original retail sale price!










Some may question whether or not large designer handbag purchase is a solid investment of one’s hard-earned cash. Well, I’m not prepared to give out any official financial advice, but turning towards some of the information posted online, it looks as though some contend that a truly authentic handbag is ultimately worth more than a knock-off version because you can't resell an imitation and see the same financial reward as you would with a reputable brand name.

Potero Luxury, a company declaring themselves “the leading curated source for 'premium, pre-owned, prized' authenticated luxury goods,” was a good place to start my research to get some ideas and information. The site had some thoughts on how to buy an investment handbag including the following advice boiled down to four trusty steps:

1) Choose from an established design house with known staying power such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel or Hermès.

2) Further narrow the field by zeroing in on the brand’s most enduring styles–ones that are sold season after season.
3) Choose a long-lasting material that will not easily rip, fade or damage.
4) Pick a neutral color that will lend itself well to resale or will match with most of your wardrobe.

In addition, the top brands that smart consumers should look at when considering resale value include Hermes, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, Salvatore Ferragamo, Bottega Veneta, Fendi and Judith Leiber. Many of these brands include a lifetime warranty or free or discounted repair work if your designer handbag purchase is ever damaged or in need of professional cleaning.

Part of a successful career style is looking one’s best. While trends may come and go, many of the designer handbag brands and styles will always be a staple classic item, and a way to appear en vogue and complement any and all future fashion that may come your way. Just like back in the big ’80s, the heyday of flashy watches, designer suits, shoes and accessories for men, a luxury designer handbag will always remain a stylish status symbol.   

Last thoughts? It’d be nice to have the expendable cash to splurge on a designer handbag every season, and if you do, it’s great to know that you have a good chance of reselling it in good condition for a decent price. However, most Americans are carefully watching their money, and there are thousands upon thousands of great fashion finds out there, at all price points, and less expensive brands are always interpreting the high end trends seen on the runways and designer showrooms for the more fiscally conservative shopper.

Although I’ve made a few fashion splurges in the past few years, I know I’ll always be able to wear some of my designer accessories, as they will always be the classic items in my wardrobe I’ll return to over and over again throughout the years. If I did have my choice of a designer purse, an item completely fashionable over functional, I’d have to go with Judith Leiber’s Romeo Dog Minaudiere, which looks just like my dachshund mix Sparky! My fellow Buffalo Dachshund Club members would be so proud!

Emily Alexandria Burns is a State University of New York Fashion Institute of Technology graduate and started her career in New York City working for companies including Giorgio Armani Le Collezioni, Christian Dior and Jones Apparel Group. She is now e-marketing communications specialist for Freed Maxick & Battaglia CPAs in Buffalo, N.Y., and recently named the Association for Accounting Marketing's 2011 "Rookie of the Year." Follow her on Twitter @FreedMaxickPR or email her at emily.burns@freedmaxick.com.