Why Are Prices of Designer Handbags Increasing?
Share archives

Over the last few years, the prices of some designer handbags have increased exponentially.

Luxury fashion houses such as Chanel and Louis Vuitton have increased prices for some of their signature bags recently. The former shocked the industry in November when it increased the price tag for its iconic Medium Classic Flap bag for the third time in 2021.

In January 2021, the price of the Medium Flap Bag was reportedly $6,800. In July, Chanel increased the price to $7,800. The price of the bag has now risen to $8,800, nearly on par with the starting price of the coveted Hermès Birkin bag.

According to a spokesperson for Chanel, the increase in price is due to exchange-rate fluctuations, changes in production costs and to make sure its bags have roughly the same pricing around the world.

Since November 2019, the price of Chanel’s Medium Flap Bag in the U.S. has increased by 60 percent, according to data compiled by the Jefferies Group, an investment banking company. Its larger counterpart, the 2.55 bag, also increased, to $9,500. In June 2021, the 2.55 was reportedly $7,400.

The French luxury house’s other signature bags, such as the Boy, the Gabrielle and Chanel 19, have also increased by 10 to 15 percent in price.

Chanel Bag at Copenhagen Fashion Week

Louis Vuitton has been increasing the prices of its classic handbags, such as the popular Pochette Accessoires Monogram Canvas, which went from $630 as of early 2021 to $1,050 as of this writing. The label reportedly hiked prices at least twice in the last year.

According to Sotheby’s, Chanel has increased the price of its handbags four times since the pandemic began in March 2020. Additionally, following the Hermès strategy, the label has placed a limit on exactly how many bags a customer can purchase per year in its efforts to make it more exclusive, though restrictions may differ depending where they are purchasing from, whether it be New York, Shanghai or Paris, among others.

Charles Gorra, chief executive officer of Rebag, which sells pre-owned luxury handbags, told Bloomberg that Chanel is striving “to be part of the Hermès world and less of the Vuitton and Gucci world. They are trying to go upscale.”

It’s no secret that coveted designer goods have increased in price with time due to inflation and other contributing factors. In 1990, the price of Chanel’s Medium Flap Bag was reportedly $1,150. When it was first introduced in 1955, the handbag was sold for $220.

Every year, it is not uncommon for designers to increase their price incrementally to account for material and labor costs. In 2021, prices were increased to make up for the losses in the previous year due to the pandemic, especially a significant decrease in international sales from frequent customers such as those from China.

Despite the significant price increases, that doesn’t seem to be turning away its consumer base. Chanel continues to be a label that retains its high value in the resale market and that aspect is unlikely to change.