Though they were once seen as the ultimate frivolous purchase to fritter away your cash, generally, experts say that luxury handbags are a good investment, especially when you can get your hands on limited runs or special editions.
They can be a sound investment and sometimes can even seem like a wiser choice than more traditional methods of investing, such as stocks or properties. But, does this general rule of thumb apply to your beloved Mulberry bag? Can you buy one safe in the knowledge that it will appreciate in value over the coming years?
Mulberry isn’t exactly one of the big designer purse brands, like Hermes or Channel (Hermes Birkin and Kelly bags can easily fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction), but can carry a hefty resale value.
There are certain heritage items, that are seen to totally personify the Mulberry brand, and hence, are often seen to increase in value after the initial sale.
An example of one of these quintessentially Mulberry bags is the Mulberry Bayswater. Considered a Mulberry icon, there are multiple versions of these timeless and classic shoulder bags, that, according to the brand website, ‘are the very best of Mulberry’s craft heritage and effortless style.’
They have an understated, but elegant look, made from only the highest quality leather, and are finished with a distinctive signature postman’s lock. With the classic bag, at the time of writing, ranging from $1,150 to $1,665 (and with smaller, more niche editions available for around $860), they are on the cheaper end of the designer handbag scale.
Although $1,600 is no small chunk of change, it feels as though it won’t eat as much into your liquid savings (unlike something like a Hermes Kelly, which can regularly fetch over $12,000).
There are other Mulberry bags alongside the Bayswater that have remained timeless, and will likely fetch a decent amount when resold. The Lily Shoulder bag is also a classic staple for Mulberry fans – celebrities like Emma Watson have helped it into luxury bag history.
The Antony Cross body Messenger bag has a classic and timeless style, is also enduringly popular, sporting the signature postman lock, and a cheaper price point ($575 to $750), making it an ideal choice if you don’t if you don’t have a huge budget.
The Darley Strap shoulder bag, made from calf skin leather, also seems like a good choice for investment, as a more affordable alternative to the Chanel classic flap bag, totally embodying the brand’s ‘understated elegance’ style. It even has the royal seal of approval, being a favorite bag of the future Queen Consort, Kate Middleton.
This isn’t always the case though – in 2017, The Daily Mail reported that the Mulberry Alexa has decreased from an initial sale value of £1100 (approximately $1470) has decreased to a value of £300 to £500 (approximately $400 to $670).
This is because it was mass-produced, and didn’t have the same exclusive appeal as a lot of designer bags, as the market was saturated. Additionally, the brand has recently changed the shape of the Alexa bag that they sell, meaning older models just look outdated rather than vintage.
Things to Consider when buying a Mulberry Bag
- Quality = obviously, with choosing an investment bag, you want to choose quality over quantity. Go for the absolute best quality that fits with your budget (look for things like firm stitching, types of leather, the hardware on the bag, etc). It is also important to choose an item that is going to be long-wearing and durable – you don’t want to pick anything that is overly precious, as it’ll stop you from using it to the max, as you’ll be scared of damaging it. Look for bags made from pebbled leather or Saffiano leather, or even just opt for a more structured leather. Avoid leather that is overly buttery and soft, as it will stain, mark, and get scratched far more easily. Be careful about choosing suede and light pastel-toned colors. Suede is easily damaged, worn down, and water-stained, making it an impractical choice for everyday use. Paler colors easily take on the colors of your clothing, so can be totally ruined if you are partial to blue jeans or colored pullovers.
- Leather lasts = Leather is a great material that makes a truly timeless and enduring bag, mainly because it ages so well. Mulberry bags can be decades old, and still look incredible, almost as though they are getting better with age. Hence, leather makes a great choice for an investment bag, especially when you pick a timeless design, such as a big holdall, or a luggage type bag, which has stayed fashionable throughout the eras.
- Opt for a neutral palette = neutral bags tend to remain classic, and are an especially good option if you don’t have a massive budget to spend on a special edition or limited design bag. Look for neutrals that go with the majority of your outfits, everything from blue jeans to red dresses, like brown, nude, black, white, or any other color that you tend to have running through your wardrobe. Neutral bags remain classic, and more easily retain their value, generally reselling for higher amounts than their more colorful, contemporary stylish ones.
- Look for structure = Structured bags are just more hard-wearing, and are guaranteed to outlast any of their non-structured compatriots. They’ll withstand daily wear, and just keep their shape better. Saggy handbags are do not make for the reseller’s best friend, so look for bags made from a stiff, reinforced material, or a bag with a well-structured shape if you have the aim of making money from a resale.
- Stay away from brash patterns and large logos = trends come and go like the seasons, and if you choose a bag that plays off of these styles, then you will be lucky if it stars popular for more than a few years. Yes – go for a statement piece from a reputable designer, but stay away from things that seem like they are simply cashing in on a passing fad. It is a lot more chic to choose something that is more subtle, understated, and timeless.
Handbag maintenance tips
- Keep the dust bag that your bag comes in, and keep it for storage (don’t just leave your bag out and about in the house! It can collect dust, be exposed to humidity, or become discolored in the sun. Additionally, when storing the bag because it’s not in use, try to stuff the bag so that it retains its shape.
- Protect and condition the material. Treat the material with conditioners, which you can purchase directly from the manufacturer, or from specialist online retailers. This is an especially important step if your bag is made of suede.
- Protect the lining, which is especially indispensable if you use your bag daily. Ensure all liquids are kept in a small, separate bag within your designer bag.
- Just generally be careful with and care for your bag, as you would do with any other prized possessions. Don’t touch it with greasy or wet fingers, keep it out of the rain, and use a suede brush or leather cleanser as and when needed.
There is a multitude of factors that go into deciding whether a bag will be a good investment. Although a brand is influential, it is not the be-all and end-all. Mulberry is a much more niche brand than something like Luis Vuitton, meaning there is the potential that reselling is easy, as they are a little rarer, or that reselling is harder because they don’t have the notoriety and sought-afterness than other luxury brands.
If you are planning on purchasing a luxury bag from Mulberry as an investment piece, we recommend looking for a rarer design of a classic model. Look at bags like the ever-popular Bayswater bag, the Lily Strap bag, the Darley shoulder bag, or the Anthony cross body bag.
But, rather than just going for one of the standard versions of those designs, look for things that seem like they will be popular and sought after by collectors. Look for rarer colors, special editions manufactured for certain anniversaries or events, or bags that have been conceptualized by notorious designers (or ones that don’t usually work with the Mulberry bag).
That being said, you need to balance the need for a unique and rare bag with the need for a bag you will get plenty of use out of. Unless you wear a lot of bright colors, don’t purchase a bright bag.
As with all investments, buying an investment luxury bag is a gamble – there is the potential that a special edition bag is rare enough and timeless enough to stand the test of time, and becomes an ‘it bag’. Conversely, if you choose the wrong bag, or don’t care for it right, then you are likely to make an overall loss (although you will still have got plenty of use out of your luxury goods).