No More Chanel Classic Flaps For Me

A Letter from Our Editor

I likely will never purchase another Chanel Classic Flap. To be fair, I already own a couple (or a few), so this pronouncement may not seem a big deal. And saying you probably won’t isn’t the same as pledging not to . . . But still. The Chanel flap was the handbag of my dreams for many years, perhaps even the gateway to my designer bag collection.

Image courtesy: @thestylishfreelancer

As I’ve written before, my first flap was for an occasion nearly 20 years ago. The small/medium black lambskin model sits proudly in my closet to this day, barely used, but will never be rehomed. I have been offered more than the $1400 (or so) paid for it. Yet, had I invested in Apple stock instead, well, I’d have nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Put another way, that would purchase about 25 new Chanel flap bags today. Shockingly, in March 2023 the price of a medium Chanel Classic Flap in leather rose to $10,200. 

Image courtesy: @sarah.mss

Therein lies my problem though. Having spent $1400 for the ideal handbag, I cannot wrap my head around the idea of paying seven times that amount now. From a  purchasing power standpoint, $1400 in 2004 is equivalent to about $2262 now, almost a fifth of the current price. Has the quality improved? No. Nor has the bag become less ubiquitous for fashionistas. 

Read: Apple Stock or Chanel Flap….Guess the Better Investment

No doubt, the Classic Flap remains popular and near the top of the luxury purse pyramid (just below the Hermès Birkin and Kelly). But sevenfold more? For a bag that I already own. Simply obtaining a new color (or size) no matter how cute or fashionable, just does not seem worth it. 

Image courtesy: @clairechanelle

In effect, the price I paid, though 20 years ago, sets something as a cap on the bag’s value in my head. Chanel’s price increases so far exceed the effect of the decades and inflation that a purchase is hard to justify. Of course, in a sense, this is nothing new. Longtime customers (or those saving to make a first purchase) often feel market pricing is moving just beyond reach. Social media posts that follow Chanel price increases often complain, and commit to no new purchases. And then, some time later, these shoppers buy another bag, perhaps though only one, not several.

Others argue that Chanel bags are an investment, a collectible category with increasing value if you will. And for some rare bags – like a diamond-encrusted Hermès Himalaya Birkin or Kelly – it may be. But you just don’t see it for many Chanel flap bags.

Image courtesy: @clairechanelle

Typically priced on the resale market at or below the original market price, the Chanel boutique purchaser almost always stands to lose money. Despite what you may read or hear on social media, with few exceptions, the value of your bag is not the current price of a new one. Certainly, the bag holds some value through its useful life should one choose to sell. It’s not a money-making proposition though, and even less so once a professional reseller is involved. 

Moreover, if you’re looking to sell a pre-owned flap bag to purchase a brand new one, one flap is not enough. Likely, you will need to sell two or three (or more) to recoup enough for that $10K+ price tag. 

Image courtesy: @emmahill

So, color me skeptical about Chanel handbags being a financial investment vehicle. A fashion investment, yes: a Chanel flap will always fit in one’s accessory wardrobe. But it is not one to rest your retirement or child’s college education on. That’s an important difference. 

Read: Is Your Hermès Birkin a Fashion Investment or a Financial Investment?

Of course, as someone who purchased a flap 20 years ago, I may not be Chanel’s target audience. Any longer, anyway. In order to continue growth, brands like Chanel need to continually grow new customer bases. Although long-time customers may be counted on for the occasional purchase, expansion can fuel success. Someone who has always (or newly) wanted to buy a flap at the boutique will have to pay – and not everyone can. Which is exactly Chanel’s point – exclusivity.

Except, making a bag hard to get by reducing supply or dictating who may and may not purchase, inevitably angers some customers. That’s particularly true when it is a newly adopted strategy and is imposed on longtime customers. Many, like me, will walk away . . . while holding their now vintage bags. 

Image courtesy: @mademoisellejaime

The trick for Chanel, though, is to sell enough flaps for profitability but not so many as to make it ordinary. In any event, Chanel, don’t count on me for your bottom line.

Published: July 29th, 2023
Updated: July 30th, 2023

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3 Responses to “No More Chanel Classic Flaps For Me”

  • Well said! I think exactly the same way as you! I had a few flaps bags too and felt that the current price is definitely a huge turn off! Money don’t grow from flap bags, its just not justifiable.

  • Such an interesting article ! Really enjoyed reading it.
    We are trying to justify it as an
    « inversement » but like you point very fairly it is really more of a fashion statement then financial one
    It was my dream bag all my life and I always wish to own several but after buying my first one at 7K£+ & , not loving the quality just don’t make sens anymore

  • I love my “flap bags” . They have priced themselves out of my budget for now . I own one for every color outfit so I’m not tempted to buy more. The quality and style are the best! They put the finishing touch on any outfit