How to care for and store your handbags so they retain their value

Handbags are in higher demand than ever before, and this once niche market has now become a prominent global industry.

Over the last 10 years the secondary market for luxury handbags has soared and as a result prices and popularity have increased. Like some models of Rolex and Patek Phillippe watches, where demand outweighs supply, consumers are willing to pay a premium on the secondary market. This, as well as retailers increasing their prices and long waiting lists, makes some brands and models excellent investments.


The Hermès Birkin and Kelly bags are iconic and even getting a place on the lengthy waiting list is like trying to enter an extremely exclusive club, if not harder. Furthermore, once you have reached the point where you are offered a handbag the choice is often very limited. This makes the secondary market for these bags unbelievably strong as consumers are willing to pay a premium for the choice that is simply not available at retail.

As well as the Birkin and Kelly, another great investment are the custom Hermès bags, also known as Special Order or HSS. These are identified by their Horseshoe Stamp. Directly from Hermès, these bespoke designs are only offered to a select number of collectors, with some waiting years to finally own one. They are typically made in the Birkin, Kelly or Constance style. They get to choose materials, colour, a range of contrasting stitching in bi-colour or tri-colour variations, and special hardware. They are very popular second-hand and make fantastic investment pieces.

Of course, I must mention the Hermès Himalaya bags. Famously the most expensive bag in the world. They are made from niloticus crocodile hide and have a subtle gradation in colour from white to grey, said to resemble the snow-capped Himalayas. Seen in the Birkin and Kelly style, the hardware is white gold and pave set with diamonds. These bags are the epitome of luxury and in 2021, one achieved over £400,000 at auction.

Hermès are known for their vibrant and unique colour combinations. However, they also have an expert eye for neutral colours and offer a wide spectrum of neutral shades. These are very popular when it comes to the secondary market because they are so versatile when worn and they remain timeless.


I can’t speak about investment without mentioning Chanel. The Classic Chanel comes in various sizes and colours, all of which remain extremely popular and make a great investment.

Similar to the Classic is the smaller more compact Wallet on Chain or WOC, also a very popular style.

Interesting Limited Editions such as this one fly on the second-hand market.

Louis Vuitton

The iconic Louis Vutton monogram pattern remains as popular as ever.

Over the years they have done some great collaborations, such as in 2017 with artist Jeff Koons. These bags are very popular with collectors.

The classic designs are timeless, such as the Speedy, Elma and Pochette, which are always popular.

Caring For Your Bag

So often I am asked what to invest in and I hope the above helps. However, something else that is extremely important to a bag’s value is its condition and is often not considered as much as it should be by the owner. So, here are my top tips on how to store your beloved handbags so they retain their value.


Bags should be stored upright in a dust bag and never piled on top of each other. To retain your bags shape it should be stuffed inside with acid free tissue paper when not in use. This will help the structure retain its rigidity. Don’t over stuff a bag, you just want the handbag to keep its shape without stretching the fabric.

Don’t hang your bag by its handle or strap as over time this might lead to it becoming stretched or result in the handle losing its shape. If your bag has a detachable strap, you may want to consider storing it separately.

If your bag has an undetachable chain handle, such as the Chanel Classic and WOC, tuck it inside the bag. This will ensure the exterior isn’t scratched. Be careful not to press the chain against the exterior or interior as it can leave an indent.

Keep your handbag out of direct sunlight as this can bleach the colour.

Most designer bags come with a dust bag for a reason. When your bag isn’t in use, take advantage of the dust bag by using it to store your bag safely. Doing this will minimise oxidation, which is one of the leading causes of natural decay in leather.

Water resistance

Water and leather should never mix. Leather is very permeable and can leave a stain.

If you get water on your bag, dab it off immediately with a dry soft cloth and then leave it to dry naturally.

Another assumption is that, because a bag costs a lot, it must automatically be weather-resistant. This is often not the case.

High-quality and designer handbags often cost their price because they are made from the most delicate materials, meaning that rain and harsh sunlight can affect their lifespan. If the weather is harsh, in terms of either temperature or rainfall, then take extra measures to protect your bag. Hermès bags come with a rain cover to protect them from water marks.

Know what your handbag is made from

Knowing what sort of leather your bag is made from is invaluable when it comes to taking care of it.

One of the most common assumptions is that all designer leather handbags are made from the same material.

Typically, the most common leathers that high-end designers use, range from canvas to lambskin leather, cowhide leather and exotic skins.

Researching the type of leather your bag is made from enables you to understand how it can be maintained and kept pristine.

Smells and Stains

Smells and stains can de-value a handbag.

The smell of smoke on a handbag is almost impossible to get rid of. So, keeping the bag out of smoky environments is important. Also be careful not to spray perfume around the handbag.

Think about what you store in your handbag and how it might stain the interior. Pen and lipstick stains are very difficult to remove so just keep them in a separate bag if you need to carry around liquids or cosmetics.

For bags in storage, giving them a little air every now and then will stop them from developing a musty smell. Plus this is the perfect opportunity to admire them.


My final advice is to enjoy your handbags. I find when I am wearing my favourite handbag it can make me feel empowered and 10 feet tall. So above all make sure you enjoy them, albeit responsibly…

Posted in Clothing and Accessories, Helen Doyle News, News.