I started a series called: Luxury Designer Bag Investments – Are they actually worth the money? and will be going into the history & background, along with as many notes as possible into each Iconic Bag and how it reached Cult Status… and presumably stayed there!
As there are many bags, I will be posting a new one every week until I run out. 🙂
Today, introducing the…
Chanel 2.55 Classic Flap Bag
HISTORY: Why & how it became famous
The Chanel Medium Classic Flap 2.55 bag was first released in 1955 when Coco Chanel was 70. It was named after the year of its release (February 1955 = 2.55)
She created a bag with quilted leather, and longer all-chain straps to be worn on the shoulder.
This was revolutionary at the time because it freed up a woman’s hands (the straps!) and it scandalized a few of the upperclass women of the day, who thought that it looked terrible when a woman just slung her purse over her shoulder rather than carrying it properly.
She actually designed her first bag in 1929, but the straps were short, so you could only carry it on the crook of your arm, or in your hand like a clutch. My suspicions are that the bag HAD to be unwieldy and carried in your hand because you then showed that you didn’t need both hands free for anything – you had maids or servants for that instead.
Just like how wearing super high heels these days, shows how you don’t really need to walk – you can just cab it, or have drivers so you can walk as little as possible.
You could also switch the bag to be carried under your arm like a clutch, or over your shoulder.
The bag, originally looked like this with a turn lock, now called the “Mademoiselle Lock” because Coco never married. :-\
Seriously? Why are we basing a woman’s value/worth on whether or not she got a husband?
Ahem. But I digress.
Later, in the early 1980s in 1983, the new head of Chanel (Karl Lagerfeld), changes the turn lock into the now, iconic interlocking C’s that you see, and adds woven leather into the chain straps.
The new Chanel from 1983 versus the Old Chanel before 1983:
You can also see that the original bag did not have leather woven through the straps, and was plain.
Two years later in, presumably to combat counterfeit bags, they started adding serial numbers to the bags.
If you end up with a vintage Chanel bag that has no serial numbers or any residue of them, you are in a very narrow window of 1984 – 1985 as the provenance of the bag.
Later in 2005 to commemorate Chanel again, they reissued the 2.55 bag some with the Mademoiselle Turnlock, and they are now called Reissue 2.55’s.
The original bag was a double-flap bag so that Coco could store her love letters in a ‘secret compartment’, but they also did away with that later, and made it a single flap.
Then they discontinued the Single Flap and now all the bags are Double Flaps.
How to tell if you have a real Chanel or not
- Smell of leather – shouldn’t smell cheap or strong
- Interlocking Cs – The right goes over the left on top, and the left over the right on the bottom
- The Interlocking C’s have a flat edge not a rounded one
- Screws on the plating – Are flathead or stars, not Philips
- 10 stitches per diamond – They’re small, and even
- Lining – leather, not plastic
- Hologram stickers – Started in 1986
- Serials should match – If you have a sticker & a card, the numbers should match
- Google the serial too
- Chain handles – The leather interwoven inside is impeccable, and the chain feels hefty
- Quilting – The diamonds match up when the bag is closed and looks even
- The grommets on the bag are smooth, and should not be felt with your finger
- Real gold-plated Chanel interlocks and chains will have the stamp say-so
- Zippers are always Lampo metal tooth & smooth
PRICE LIST for the 2.55 handbag
Classic Calfskin & Gold-Tone Metal Black
|Year||Price in $USD|
RETURNS ON A CHANEL CLASSIC FLAP 2.55
The bag has returned 174% in value since 1955 when it originally cost $220.
If we normalize it to 2020 dollars, $220 back in 1955 is now worth $2118.85.
In stores, it sells for $5800 for a difference of $3681.15 or 174% over what its price would be, taking inflation solely into account.
(Remember, value is also subjective because someone has to see that and buy it from you at that price, just like with stocks, but a lot trickier to liquidate. Also, who is going to buy an old bag when they can buy a new one for the same price?)
The S&P 500 since 1955, had you invested that same $220 and not touched it or added any money to it, would have returned: $54,107.03 even with the recent 2020 drop due to the virus:
“Outperform” the stock market with a bag? I don’t think so.
(This is kind of why you shouldn’t believe everything you read about how luxury bags are investments, they don’t really know how to factor in dividends which are a HUGE part of the value in investing, and may only look at nominal not real rates of returns)
That said, vintage bags are certainly a better place to put your money if you save up for one, rather than into an armful of crappy mainstream, fast fashion pieces. Bags & jewellery are easily resold, unlike shoes or clothes.
I’d much rather buy a $2500 vintage Chanel flap bag than spend that in a year on a terrible wardrobe.
On the resale market, you can spend anywhere from $1500 – $20,000 for a Chanel flap bag, depending on its condition, age, documentation, etc.
If you want to read more…
- Leather Surgeons: If you want to repair your Chanel
- Yoogi’s Closet: History of the Chanel Flap Bag
- Purse Blog Forum: Discussion on Vintage Chanel’s
- Yoogi’s Closet: The Ultimate Guide to the Chanel
- Racked: On the increase in Chanel Prices
- Bag Hunter: Increase in the Chanel Prices
- Brag my Bag: Increase in Chanel Prices
- 1stDibs: Spotting a fake from a real Chanel
- Live About: How to tell a real from a fake Chanel
- Yoogi’s Closet: Chanel Serial Stickers Authentication Guide
Loved this? You can see the rest of the luxury designer bag comparisons in this series here: Luxury Designer Bag Series.