Rehoming. A sweet euphemism for selling the handbag in the back of your closet (or under the bed). Fortunately for Hermès Birkin and Kelly owners, that dust collector has value. Serious value. That’s a good thing since most of those bags now set you back five figures in U.S. dollars. Whether it’s more or less than you originally paid depends upon several factors, all of which we discuss below.
For those of you still aching for a first Birkin or Kelly, this probably makes no sense. Why would you sell such a coveted and difficult to obtain treasure? Well, actually, there are several reasons even if you are the original purchaser.
Reasons to Rehome
Start with why you bought the bag in the first place. Did you grab whatever was offered. Perhaps you didn’t want to let your quota lapse or insult your SA. And you figured you could just resell it. That’s more common than you think.
Or, was that bleu nuit Birkin a must-have to coordinate with a Chanel jacket, only to find you use neither. Our minds, needs, and lifestyles evolve constantly. The global pandemic certainly hammered that home.
Maybe you get tired or bored with handbags. Selling the old to bring in the new is common. Or you just want or need the cash. Space might be limited and/or you self-impose a limit on the “perfect” number of handbags.
Read: No More Than Ten Bags?!
Whatever the reason, people sell – excuse us, rehome, Birkins and Kellys all the time. And no doubt there are plenty of buyers as well. During the pandemic, the already growing secondary market for luxury goods exploded. With boutiques shuttered, restricted travel, and limited e-commerce supply, resellers experienced robust growth.
Of course, there would be no resale market without a pipeline of bags. Yes, there are resellers who purchase directly (or employ a coterie of associates to make purchases for them) from boutiques solely for the purpose of resale. It’s a game of arbitrage – buy low(er), sell high(er). And it rests on the assumption that there is a group of buyers willing and able to pay over the retail price for access to the bag they want when they want it.
Typically, these are the resellers about which Hermès dreamers complain bitterly. “How can these resellers get so many bags when I cannot get one?” is a common refrain among frustrated shoppers. Many theories and suspicions abound, and we can only hope and trust that Hermès will find a way to shut down this practice. If it truly wants to do so, that is.
Those resellers are only a piece of the secondary market, though. An entire industry evolved from individuals seeking to resell their own items. What to do with the items Marie Kondo’d out of your home during a purge? Give it to a reseller site and cash out. Need money for a new bag? Sell one of the old ones.
Whether you brand it part of the “circular economy” or liken it to a “thrift store” and “flea market”, reselling goods is far from a new concept. What has grown, however, is the popularity of buying and selling luxury pre-owned items.
Some lux brands are even leaning into the practice. For example, Gucci and The Real Real are partnering to “recycle” pre-owned items. Kering invested in resale site Vestiaire Collective.
To be clear, Hermès is not officially on board with the practice. On the other hand, a recent statement by its Womenswear Artistic Director, implicitly acknowledges that Hermès products retain value. In justifying the high handbag price tag, she pointed out that because they are made to last, the cost per year makes it affordable.
It is that retained value that brings Birkin and Kelly owners to the sell side of the secondary market. After all, if the bags were worthless, there would be nothing to sell. Perhaps, even more to the point, no one would want to buy, which certainly is not the case.
For individuals looking to rehome treasures, there are multiple outlet options. Sell directly yourself whether on a website (like eBay or Vestiaire Collective) or completely on your own, like to a friend or on FB/IG.
It’s probably easier, however, to sell directly to or consign with an established reseller. Given the ample stock on reseller shelves, it’s quite a popular method. As is buying a pre-owned handbag. On the other hand, selling through someone else substantially reduces the cash in your pocket. Middlemen/women take a substantial cut. So, sellers beware, especially if the goal is to maximize return.
But what makes one bag more valuable than another in the secondary market? That, friends, is the big question.
The simple answer is that if it is brand new in box (BNIB), in demand and hard to get right now, then it will sell now for a premium on the secondary market. Notice that time constraint. It’s because what’s hot at the moment, may not be sizzling and elusive three months from now.
Similarly, if that bag suddenly becomes readily available (as if shipments of Rose Sakura quota bags suddenly flood boutiques), premiums decline. This also explains why some older special bags retain value so well. And, yes, we are talking about that white Himalaya Birkin!
Put another way . . . it’s all about supply and demand. And with Hermès, both are fickle. A brand known for limiting supply of most in-demand items, can create (and destroy) the secondary markup even in its most popular styles.
There’s another catch as well. For example, that black mini Kelly you “had to have,” but never used, will sell for up to three times what you paid when offered by a reseller now. But, but, but . . . unless you are the reseller . . . you will not collect that amount.
So many owners see the prices on resale websites and salivate over the prospect of a multiplied return on investment. It just doesn’t work out that way when you use an intermediary. On the other hand, don’t expect sympathy if you collect several thousand dollars more than you paid.
Nevertheless, when looking to rehome, there are factors consistently considered in assessing its value and price. In no particular order, what you get for your pre-owned Birkin and/or Kelly depends upon size, color, leather, and condition.
Factors Affecting Resale Price- Size
It’s still a small, small world. The more petite the higher the price. This little trend (for all luxury brands) just doesn’t seem to be growing up. At least not yet. Which explains why a mini Kelly can claim three times its retail price at resale.
Beyond that style, the smaller sizes like B25, B30, K25, and K28, remain most popular, both in the boutique and upon rehoming. These bags will command a premium of sorts. However, don’t expect multiples of your investment.
Of course, this can all change. Should big bags once again become all the rage, and B35s, B40s, and K35s sparse, expect a price bump there as well.
Got an impossible to get and coveted hue? Mauve Sylvestre, perhaps? Nata or Bleu Brume? Extra special means extra cash. But, it has to be scarce and desired at the time you’re selling it. If everyone is “over” the color, you’re back to basic.
Some colors, naturally, survive the test of time. Hermès’s classics, like Black, Gold, Etoupe, Etain, Gris Mouette, and Craie, will always be popular. They sell, but at what price depends upon other factors, like timing, leather, and condition. Here’s a tip though – Hermès is always pretty in pink.
The type of leather also affects the resale value. Special or rare leathers like box, barenia, butler, and tadelakt, often command a premium. As do rarer combinations only found in special orders, like a Sellier Kelly in chevre leather. On the other hand, some buyers prefer leathers like togo or clemence due to perceived durability, especially in classic hues.
BNIB will always secure a higher price than a used bag. New is new (though production year still matters). Similarly, the better the condition of your bag (excellent or very good), the greater the return.
To make matters more confusing though, there are Hermès aficionados who believe the leather quality on some older models is better. These buyers sometimes seek out the older bags.
You may be wondering where this leads you if you’re considering rehoming one (or ten) Birkins. The good news is that, generally speaking, your bag is marketable, at some price. But it may require patience and price flexibility.
You’ll do better if that bag never saw the light of day and instead existed as an expensive closet ornament. The sooner you part ways (as in, the more current the bag), the more money you’ll likely get.
It’s just so hard to say goodbye . . .
Tell us what’s hiding under your bed or in your closet. Do you have plans to rehome your unused or under-loved Birkins?