Chanel vs. Hermès Price Faceoff

Are your Chanel Dreams Turning Orange?

Sadly, your beloved Aunt Fanny passed and left you $10,000. Or, happily, the boss gave you an unexpected holiday bonus of $10,000.  Sure, you can put it in the bank. Invest it in the stock market. Alternatively, you can be like Carrie Bradshaw (of Sex and the City fame) and put the money where you can see it:  in your closet. For PurseBop and followers that probably means a new bag.  But, how to spend it? 

After Chanel’s price hike last month (read: Chanel Defies Gravity – US Prices Go Up), we at PurseBop began pondering the closing gap between Chanel and Hermes pricing in the United States. As a reminder, now the classic Chanel flap medium is $5400, the jumbo is just shy of $6000 and the maxi is $6400.  As these numbers inch closer to the five figure mark, perhaps you are considering jumping to the next price level bags.  For example, a Hermes Birkin 25 is $9400, Birkin 30 is $$10,900 and a Constance is $7550.  In other words, are your coco quilt dreams turning Orange?

Not that long ago, a Chanel flap was half (or less) the price of a Birkin. Put another way, you could get two Chanel flaps for the price of one B or K.  Now, however, by our calculations, one togo Birkin 30 costs roughly the same as 1½ Chanel maxi flaps. We are not sure what you can do with half a bag, but, nevertheless… Would you rather get that Chanel maxi flap or spend an extra $3500 for a Birkin?

image_6483441 (3)

We compare the value of a Birkin in Chanel Classic flaps before several price increases with today. **note: these graphics are to help visually understand the comparisons between the brands and are not intended to be calculated as absolute values**

It’s a tough question.  Surely the extra money is significant. If you thought spending in the thousands for a handbag was nuts, well $10,000 must be absolutely appalling. But if you get over the numbers… which would you rather?

0008 - Chanel-equals-Birkin_vs1

Today a Birkin is roughly equal to 1.5 Chanel bags (after recent price increase). Which would you rather? 1.5 Chanel flaps or 1 Birkin? **note: these graphics are to help visually understand the comparisons between the brands and are not intended to be calculated as absolute values**

Before you decide, consider which bag you would use more.  You might be persuaded by a lower cost per wear… and the answer could support either bag. It depends upon your lifestyle.  Classic flaps, Birkins and Kellys all can be used day or night, depending upon size, outfit and event.

Of course, you can’t always get what you want… when you want.  PurseBop’s archives are replete with advice on how to get a Birkin, establish a relationship with Hermes and a sales associate in order to get a Birkin, whether and what you have to buy before getting a Birkin and so on (read: 10 Tips to Help You Establish an Enduring Relationship with Hermès and You may think this just applies to Hermes Birkin/Kelly/Constance trifecta, but finding the right Chanel flap can be a challenge as well. Stock often is limited and many of the classics have wait lists.

Another factor might be the retained value of the bags, even if you never plan to divest.  Think back to the study finding a Birkin to be a better investment than gold. Chanel bags also were found to retain value, but not as well as Hermes. A review of resale and consignment sales supports the value of Hermes as well.  Some examples:  Fashionphile currently lists for a black caviar maxi flap for $4395. The listing also  promises to buy it back from you for…$3077, or less than half the current retail price.  On the other hand, the site lists a togo 30B in cuivre for $14,500 (or over retail)  with buyback offer of $10,150, or almost retail. A black Birkin from 2010 lists even higher at $15,500.  

image_6483441 (2)

The Birkin holds it’s value at resale and in most cases  is sold at higher than current market purchase prices. **note: these graphics are to help visually understand the comparisons between the brands and are not intended to be calculated as absolute values**

image_6483441 (4)

The Birkin holds it’s value at resale and in most cases is sold at least for the price paid. **note: these graphics are to help visually understand the comparisons between the brands and are not intended to be calculated as absolute values**

Christie’s recent NYC handbag auction relays a similar tale. That high end bags have become a component of the elite auction market is telling – the value of a purse is not limited to its contents. In the last six months, Christie’s handbag auctions have brought in over $12 million. Yes, some of the bags were record-setting Himalaya Birkins, but not all. In the NYC online sale  the black chevre Kelly 25 estimated to trade for $8-10,000 instead sold for $18,750; and an indigo epsom Kelly 25 brought in $17,500.  Pre-owned bags sold for thousands more than retail.  Think about that.

0008 - Resale-chanel=half

The Chanel Classic flap does not hold it’s value at resale in most cases. **note: these graphics are to help visually understand the comparisons between the brands and are not intended to be calculated as absolute values**

Of course, that’s not what you – an owner – would  necessarily realize.  Auction houses, consignment stores and all resellers take a cut and it’s not an insignificant one. However, many provide much needed authentication and peace of mind; in other words, a service intended to safeguard the transaction.  Selling and buying privately although perhaps a “better deal” financially for both parties  exposes you to more risk. Just ask ebay

Back to your hypothetical $10,000 . . . what would you buy?  Does the narrowing gap between Chanel and Hermes affect your decision?

We really want you to think about this one.

Love PurseBop
XO

protecting your hermes investment tool