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Tips for Buying Luxury Items Secondhand

If you're new to my blog, you might not know that I worked nearly two years at a luxury consignment store when I lived in Cleveland. I went from having a Kate Spade purse and wallet as my only two "luxury" items to being completely immersed in everything from Tory Burch and Rebecca Minkoff to Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, the list continues. Basically, I got to play around with items that I thought I would only see in the magazines or through a window outside of their flagship stores. I've always had a huge appreciation for luxury fashion, but I've never had the financial means for it.

I didn't realize how massive the resale community was until I started to work at the consignment store. I thought people resold items on eBay, but that even those sellers were probably sketchy as all hell. Little did I know, there were plenty of places beyond eBay for online reselling, and even more brick and mortar stores locally to do so. The one thing you lose with buying luxury items at a discounted price secondhand is the complete knowledge that what you're getting is absolutely authentic. The counterfeit market for luxury items has stretched beyond just handbags, dragging clothing and accessories into the mix as well. This makes both your job as a reseller and as a buyer even more difficult as both of you work hard to ensure that you're selling/buying a completely authentic item.

Ask questions

Look, some questions can get annoying, but honestly, in the grand scheme of things, you're better off asking questions about the item if you are able to. This is really only applicable for actual luxury consignment stores or resale websites such as Vestiaire Collective, Tradesy, or Poshmark (we'll get into those later though), but if you have the option to ask questions about information that hasn't already been provided, you should do so. They might not have the answers, especially if it's a consignment store acting as the middleman, but typically if they don't have the answer right away, they can reach out to the consignor. 

Some questions you might want to ask that can help you with your own research (again, more on that later): 
  • Where was this purchased?
  • How old is this bag?
  • How many times was this bag used? (This is a more difficult question to answer, but if you haven't seen it in person, it's nice to be able to gauge the quality and condition of the item).
  • Is this bag still being sold?
  • What is the proper name of this bag?
  • Does it come with its dust bag and authenticity card?
These questions might seem simple, but this can be vital information. For us, as we were doing in take, we would ask consignors all of these questions and it's totally normal for a customer to want to know the information as well. If a consignor said that it was a gift, that was typically a red flag for us. It's really important for potential consignors to keep as much information about their bags as possible. Having your dust bag and authenticity cards are really important, but beyond that, knowing where you got it and when and for approximately how much (it would shock you how many women get these on sale and try to hide it on the receipts) helps immensely not only in the selling process, but also in the authenticity process. You can't just roll up to Louis Vuitton with a bag and ask them to authenticate it. That's just not how it works. Most people are authenticating things by themselves after years of both working with luxury products and experience buying luxury products. 

We've had to turn down a lot of bags that might have been authentic because their consignors just didn't have enough evidence to back it up. That's just the name of the game sometimes, but it's better to be safe than sorry when it comes to reselling (and purchasing!) secondhand items.

Check the stitching, brand stamps, and hardware 

You can tell a bag is fake just by the stitching. Aside from Hermes Birkin, which is hand stitched, most bags should have pristine stitching. If it's crooked in any way, that should be a huge red flag. You also have to be careful with brand stamps in the interior of bags. This is harder to tell just with your eye, but there are hundreds of pages online that compare fake and authentic brand stamping and hardware, you just have to do your own outside research. This is harder to do on the spot, but if you have time to think about a purchase, do as much outside research as you can. Same goes for hardware, though sometimes you can tell that just with touch. It truly depends on how much experience you have with luxury goods, but the hardware definitely differs when it comes to authentic vs. fake bags. 

Also, an easy tip for Louis Vuitton bags also comes down to the way the leather wears and patinas. When you get a Louis Vuitton bag new, the leather handles will certainly be lighter in color. As you wear it and the oils from your skin start to discolor the leather, it will start to turn a caramel shade and can eventually become much darker as time goes on. As you might know, Louis Vuitton bags also come with date stamps on the inside of their bags in various places (you can Google the location for specific bags). If a bag says it's ten years old and the leather is still pristine and a bright cream color, run for the hills. Unless this person never touched this bag a day in their life, there's absolutely no way this bag has been around for ten years and hasn't worn at all, even if they took impeccable care of it.

Check the interior tags

This is another place where things can go very, very wrong. I've seen garments come in that have two different "Made In" tags on in the inside. Fake goods can come with accurate tags, I'm sure, but it's important to check the location of these tags as well as the color, font sizes, and even checking for spelling dissimilarities. If something comes new with tags (NWT), I'd say it's fairly trust worthy, especially if you know the sellers.

That is one thing I will say about physical brick and mortar consignment stores. You have a lot of repeat consignors, ones that you become very close to. You have to be cautious at all times with luxury pieces, but there comes a time in your relationship with a consignor that you know them and have to trust that they wouldn't screw you over with pieces that aren't authentic. It's pretty easy to gauge the trust worthy consignors with the consignors whose pieces you have to check for a week and do immense amounts of research on. Shit can happen regardless of whether you trust the consignor or not, but there are people who wouldn't be caught dead with a fake piece and would never try to sell it to a brick and mortar small business, if that makes any sense whatsoever.

Do your own research

If you aren't buying any items on the spot and have time, do your own research. There are only a handful of things that you aren't going to find on the internet that can help you. I'd say with very specific searches, you can find just about anything with a little digging. You can also totally do basic searches and just search for "Authentic vs. Fake" and then add the designer at the end and search through those. There are plenty of YouTube videos that can also help you decide what's real and what's not. 

Also, this kind of goes hand in hand with this tip, but watch luxury YouTube reviews. There are plenty of YouTubers who make unboxing videos of their newest luxury items and show them in detail. This will give you a really good idea about how a newer bag is supposed to look. Sometimes they show the entire bag in great detail, including the interior.

There are plenty of secondhand luxury retailers on the internet. The debatably biggest luxury online reseller is The Real Real. I haven't personally had any issue with The Real Real and I've consigned some of my more high end items to them. You can find pretty much anything and everything on this website. Obviously, you have to proceed with caution any time that you buy from any reseller, but I'd say they're pretty good with authenticating items.

Another bigger online reseller for strictly luxury is Vestiaire Collective. I have personally not purchased nor sold anything through Vestiaire, but they're another online reseller. They have cooler and more relevant items, but their prices vary and I don't find their photo quality or searchabiltiy as easy as The Real Real. I've heard more negative things about Vestiaire than I have about The Real Real, but again, it totally comes down to the person you're buying from. On the plus side, you can ask questions or for more information and photos to the sellers on Vestiaire.

Luxury Garage Sale has incredible pieces, they're just a little on the pricey side. I was a huge fan of their Instagram and the way they branded themselves. Totally worth a check if you like interesting and unique pieces, as well as trendy items.

Fashionphile is also worth a look. Same as Vestiaire, I've only browsed on Fashionphile, but they have a really nice selection of items. Their prices are a little higher than TRR and Vestiaire, but they have fairly relevant and trendy pieces, which is a plus. They also have an eBay auction store with some of their items on super discount, which is a nice plus.

There's also SnobSwap, which has a really terrible name and that has always bothered me. They don't have a huge selection, but it's basically a resale website that only luxury consignment boutiques can sell through. It's not individual sellers, but instead actual consignment stores selling their own inventory to try to expand their customer base beyond who shops in their store on a daily basis.

I don't necessarily recommend these next two, but I've sold pieces on both. These are definitely the sites that you might want to do a little bit more of your own research and ask tons of questions. Poshmark and Tradesy both have luxury items, but they don't have their own authenticating services and essentially, you have to trust the seller. On the plus side though, a lot of influencers sell their items through these websites, meaning you can shop their closets and can then assume authenticity based off of your trust in them.

There are also tons (I mean, tons) of luxury consignment stores that are local to certain areas, but post their content either on Instagram or Facebook or even on their own online stores. I hesitate to list the ones I know of in fear of seeming biased, but there are so many.  I'm more than happy to give suggestions, but I'll leave them out in this actual post to avoid biases. Truthfully, if you search for "Best Luxury Consignment Stores" you can probably find a pretty solid list.

I certainly didn't intend for this post to be this long, but I think it's an important topic that I'm super passionate about. I loved my job at the consignment store and I love buying luxury goods second hand. I have never in my life paid full price for any of my designer items. A majority of my clothing is from the consignment store I worked at or I bought them at Saks Outlet. I don't have the occupation or savings to afford any of this stuff full price, scout's honor. Both the dress and shoes featured in this post were on super sale at the consignment store and my sunglasses were purchased at the Saks Outlet for a fraction of the original price.

Dress: House of Holland | Shoes: Stuart Weitzman | Sunglasses: Prada


  1. Great advice! One of my favorite bags that I purchased was actually secondhand -- it was a new with tags Dooney and Bourke purse -- for $50. But, definitely keeping some of these in mind when selling my purses.


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