Bags of Style

Handbags are so much more than an accessory. What inspires you? A Louis Vuitton Speedy, the iconic Chanel 2.55, Chloé's Paddington or like Carrie Bradshaw do you have an eternal love for a Fendi Baguette?

The luxury handbag market continues to grow in stature attracting a new and younger group of collectors, resellers and dealers. Brands and models are key for price evaluations, as is the condition and the rarity of materials. The use of precious gems together with unusual skins like alligator, crocodile, ostrich and lizard tend to fetch the highest prices and hold their value.

Interest has evolved in parallel with the growth of eCommerce and social media and the secondary market for handbags is a fiercely fought bazaar. The growing number of auctions taking place online has opened a doorway for new players to join in, which accounts for the top auction houses seeing sales quadrupling between 2012 and 2019.

Handbags serving as a passion asset first made headlines with the auction of Christie's Coco Chanel collection in 1978, and was cemented at Christie's Elizabeth Taylor auction in 2011 when a set of Louis Vuitton luggage, each with its own purple luggage tags that said, 'MINE', had a guide price of $3,000-5,000 but sold for $110,500.

Established in 1991, ILS World's private client team is experienced in working with clients who include collectibles as part of their investment portfolios, providing advice on trust and specialist company formation as tools to safeguard these pieces for owners and future successors.

Before the term passion asset had been coined, Hermès began cultivating desire and exclusivity for its merchandise. The brand started life as a Paris harness workshop in 1837. The Sac à Dépêches was designed by Émile-Maurice for his wife in 1935 and renamed the Kelly in 1977 after Princess Grace of Monaco. The Constance arrived in 1959 and the Birkin, named after the actor and singer Jane Birkin, in 1984.

Each Hermès bag is a painstaking labour of love, entirely hand crafted so no two are the same, they carry the distinctive saddle stitch the design house has become famous for. A Kelly bag comes in eight sizes (Kelly 15, Kelly 20, Kelly 25, Kelly 28, Kelly 32, Kelly 35, Kelly 40 and Kelly 50) and the number in the bag's title refers to its width. A Birkin comes in four different sizes – 25, 30, 35, and 40. The main difference between the two is a Kelly has one handle plus a shoulder strap whereas the Birkin has two handles and no shoulder strap.

The high prices demanded for passion assets, such as the Hermès bag, is also down to limited availability. The total number of Birkin's produced each year is a well-guarded secret, but it's estimated there may be around 200,000 in circulation. The rumour is that waiting lists are a thing of the past as the demand for a Birkin and a Kelly outstrip supply. Only those with close, personal relationships with boutique staff will be informed when one becomes available and not necessarily in their preferred colourway or finish. Rarer editions will only be offered to a very select group of VIPs group which is why the resale market is so strong - a Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Retourné Kelly 25 sold at auction by Christie's for HK$3.4 million last year.

Although Hermès is the focus of many collections, Boarini Milanesi unveiled a US$7 million bag last year to raise awareness of the need to protect our oceans. The personalised Parva Mea is made-to-order and took the crown of the most expensive bag in the world from the US$3.8 million Mouawad 1001 Nights Diamond Purse.

Why Choose ILS World

The ILS World private client team has a great deal of experience supporting many passionate collectors, and as such, has become experienced in partnering and working with external accredited experts and acknowledged industry professionals to ensure our clients receive the best advice. We are used to working with authentication experts who know the only papers that come with a Hermès handbag are CITES accompanying exotic skin bags.

We work collaboratively with specialists who can interpret brand stamps and recognise genuine hardware and through our network of global contacts we liaise with specialist valuers, insurers and storage advisers to ensure leather isn't suffocated which can lead to cracking and long-term damage.

As a leading provider of independent fiduciary services to professional advisors, corporate groups, private and digital clients, we are here to help achieve your financial goals.

At ILS World, we don’t restrict ourselves, we like to go beyond the borders. That is why we operate globally. You will find our offices in Isle of ManBritish Virgin IslandsHong Kong, and Portugal.

Your Specialist
Emilia Stringer
Business Development Executive
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