Designer handbags worth the investment make one of our favorite topics, especially when it comes to Chanel bags. Chanel’s history is full of some of the most iconic designer bags of all time, which are undeniably worth the investment even if it is a long-awaited and hard-earned one. It makes sense to delve into the history of Chanel bags and discover the best ones to buy into, but also learn how to spot a fake Chanel bag to make sure we buy an authentic one every time shopping online or at vintage stores.
Most Iconic Chanel Bags Worth the Investment: Contents
Born in Saumur, France, in 1883, Coco Chanel opened her first shop on Paris’s Rue Cambon in 1910 (one of the most magical places in Paris), starting out her career selling hats. Spotted down the streets of Paris wearing some of the most fashionable self-made dresses, Coco Chanel was often asked to sew the same dresses for other people too, and that was how her clothing line Chanel started less than a decade after she had opened her very first shop.
Things then inevitably went on quite fast for Chanel, who launched her first perfume, Chanel n°5 in 1920 and, less than 5 years later, her now legendary Chanel suit with a collarless jacket and a well-fitted skirt.
Chanel’s bag history officially began in 1929, when Coco designed her first, ultra-iconic 2.55 prototype. However, we had to wait up until 1955 for the Chanel 2.55 bag to be launched and ready to be purchased, with the outcomes of the “2.55 craze” changing the handbag history for good. For the first time ever, in fact, it was acceptable for women of considerable social status in the Western world to carry a bag on their shoulders.
Before debuting the newest Chanel Gabrielle, Chanel (both the iconic designer and the French fashion house) had been spending the past five decades releasing one must-have bag after another, leaving the other designers and fashion houses big shoes to fill. Creating a bag that is worth the investment in the decades to come, too, is no small feat for sure, and the current Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld knows it (his most recent Gabrielle Chanel bag was nevertheless a big success).
Following in Coco Chanel’s footsteps is, per se, probably one of the fashion designer’s hardest tasks, as her staples, accessories and bags have dauntlessly revolutionized the fashion industry forever.
Aside from buying a Chanel bag from an official Chanel store (or from the fashion house’s e-commerce website), which makes the bag automatically authentic, there are a few tricks to consider in order to spot fake Chanel bags in an instance.
Make Sure You Get the Authenticity Card Along With Your Chanel Bag
Chanel bags peremptorily come with an authenticity card that features the bag’s serial number comprising 6 digits if the bag was manufactured between 1984 and 1986, 7 digits if it was made between 1986 and 2004, 8 digits from 2005 onwards.
Currently, Chanel does not issue authenticity cards with a serial number of more than 9 digits, but that could change in the future (and will be officially stated by Chanel’s headquarters). You’ll need the authenticity card if you ever want to sell your bag in the future, so keep it!
The serial number on your bag’s authenticity card must match the serial number the bag’s inside features.
Since counterfeiters also provide the buyer with fake authenticity cards, it’s important to know that authentic ones never have a hologram effect to them, but rather look like solid credit cards. Chanel bags produced in 2005 and onwards come with an authenticity card that features a circular grey symbol with the double C logo at the top right corner.
Check the CC Lock and Its Back
The easiest way to make sure your Chanel bag is not fake is to carefully inspect the iconic CC lock. First and foremost, fake Chanel CC locks usually have more rounded finishes, while authentic ones have a flat edge.
The Chanel CC lock should always be perfectly centered, otherwise your bag is a counterfeit. Also pay close attention to the Cs – the right C should overlap on top, while the left one on the bottom.
If still in doubt, take a ruler and measure the width of each C, as it should match the width of the gap between the two Cs.
The lock stem is either gold or silver matching the bag’s hardware, which maintains its perfect condition and coloring for good, while fake Chanel bags feature gold-plated lock stems that quickly peel off.
Then look at the back of the lock, as it should have a “CHANEL” and a “PARIS” embossed respectively on the left and right Cs, which means the bag was made in France. However, some authentic Chanel bags that have been made in Italy don’t feature any stamp.
Where’s the Dust Bag?
Like other designer bags and other accessories, Chanel bags come with a dust bag as well. If you are buying your Chanel bag from a vintage store and it includes an authenticity card but not a dust bag, chances are the bag is not a replica but the price point should be significantly low.
Your bag’s duster bag should always feature “CHANEL” written in bold white letters, perfectly centered in the middle.
Check the Bag Zippers
We usually couldn’t care less about zippers, but in reality, they tell us a lot about a clothing or an accessory item. The zipper usually changes depending on the year it was manufactured, so it’s a great idea to double-check what zipper was used in the year your bag was released.
As for authentic Chanel bags, the fashion house has mostly used expensive Lampo zippers for its handbags, meaning that if your vintage Chanel handbag features another kind of zipper, good chances are it is a counterfeit.
It Is Time to Examine the Quilting
Chanel’s legendary quilting is legendary for a reason. Boasting top-notch quality (so one of the first advice is just to touch it and try to figure out if it feels cheap or not), Chanel’s quilting is usually seamless, symmetrical and matches up just perfectly between the exterior and the pocket on the back, as well as the flap.
Examine the Quality of the Leather
Most Chanel bags are made of quality lambskin that feels extremely soft to the touch or pebbled calf leather, which has that caviar feel to it and a bubble textured appearance.
Pay Attention to the Grommets and Stitching
When talking about Chanel’s grommets, we refer to the iconic metal rings that the chain straps of most Chanel bags run through. First and foremost, the grommets must be all symmetrical and flawless. Secondly, it feels really heavy. If the chains are lightweight, the bag is very likely to be fake.
When it comes to the stitching of the bag, it should be flawless too, featuring more than 10 stitches per inch, while the fake Chanel bags usually have a lower stitch count.
The bag’s lining is another aspect to consider, since it must lie flat without any imperfections or bumps.
Don’t Forget the Hologram
When it comes to authentic Chanel bags, there’s one thing you should look for as soon as you get your hands on the bag, and that’s the hologram sticker covered by plastic located on the tab inside the bag. It features the same exact serial number your authenticity card does, so if it doesn’t coincide, it is safe to assume your Chanel bag is fake.
What happened next is a dream array of Chanel bags, among which the following are the ones worth the investment the most.
1. Chanel 2.55, A.K.A. The Original Chanel Shoulder Bag
Created in February 1955 (that’s where the name 2.55 comes from), Chanel’s 2.55 shoulder bag was modified by Coco, after her first design in 1929, due to practical reasons. “I got fed up with holding my purses in my hands and losing them,” Chanel was reported saying in Coco Chanel by Justine Picardie. “So I added a strap and carried them over my shoulder.”
This model is, however, also extremely important due to its iconic quilted leather, which is now synonymous with Chanel bags. Although there is no official reason behind this manufacturing detail, it is commonly thought to be in honor of Coco Chanel’s love of riding horses.
What many do not know is that the original 2.55 was lined in a burgundy hue, which was a reference to the Catholic school uniforms Coco wore back in the day when she was a student.
2. Chanel Wallet on Chain
Also known as simply “the WOC”, the Chanel Wallet on Chain is a win-win bag. Available in a variety of styles, colors, finishes, and price points, the WOC is the most versatile Chanel bag you’ll ever own, as carrying one could be considered as the equivalent of wearing a cross-body bag, a shoulder bag, a messenger bag, a clutch, and a wallet, just all in one!
3. Chanel Flap Bag
Like it is mistakenly believed by many, the Chanel Classic Flap Bag is not Chanel’s first bag and is not the disguised version of the 2.55. Introduced by Karl Lagerfeld in 1983, the Classic Flap Bag is a reinterpretation of the 2.55, which is now actually often referred as “the Reissue”. Chanel’s Classic Flap Bag comes in four sizes and, most importantly, has a double CC turn-style lock instead of a rectangular one.
4. Chanel Boy Bag
Here we are with one of the most acclaimed Chanel bags – the Boy Bag. Introduced in 2011, meaning that it is pretty recent, Chanel’s Boy Bag was named after Coco Chanel’s lover Arthur Capel, whose nickname was “Boy.” Structured and minimalist chic, there is no doubt it is worth the investment!
5. Chanel Grand Shopping Tote
Also known as “the GST”, Chanel’s Grand Shopping Tote is a dream come true for all those who always look for elegant yet roomy handbags. Unfortunately, the GST is one of the many Chanel bags that got discontinued by the fashion house, meaning that getting your hands on a GST is extremely hard nowadays. One of the most iconic Chanel bags of all time, the GST is inevitably the most covetable item in the secondary market.
6. Chanel Kelly Bag
From one discontinued Chanel bag to another, here we are with the Kelly bag. Named after Grace Kelly, the Princess of Monaco, Chanel’s Kelly could bring a touch of timeless class to any work ensemble, even the most casual one. Like the Hermes Kelly, which is one of the most iconic Hermes bags of all time, the Kelly came in various sizes, among which the large one is the most requested one among the various international Chanel-addicted vintage lovers.
7. Chanel Medallion Tote Bag
Here we are with another discontinued Chanel bag that makes everyone run amok in the luxury secondhand stores. Neither too large, nor too small, it was named after the medallion with the signature Chanel CC logo attached to the zipper. Perfect for any occasion, if you manage to find one, make sure to keep it like a treasure!
8. Chanel Petite Shopping Tote
If you are looking for the perfect tote bag that’s not too big, the Chanel Petite Shopping Tote, a.k.a. the Chanel PST is right for you, if you ever manage to find it, since that’s just another discontinued Chanel bag. The PST comes in a range of colors, from classic black and white to burgundy and red, can feature lambskin, caviar, metallic and patent finishes, and is a relatively affordable Chanel bag you can add to your collection of designer handbags.
9. Chanel Gabrielle Hobo Bag
Available in a myriad of materials and colors, this is one of the most iconic Chanel bags of all time. Like most Chanel bags, the Gabrielle Hobo bag has also been inspired by the house’s founder Coco Chanel and features a classic, sleek design that will hardly go unnoticed. Investing in one, especially the classic black goatskin option, is a great idea for any collector of designer bags.
10. Chanel Bowling Bag
Chanel’s Bowling bag debuted for the summer 2018 season becoming an instant hit. Roomy, slightly streetwear-inspired, and surely fancy, Chanel’s Bowling bag is meant for the fashionable women on the go, and will make anyone feel flawless and stand out from the crowd when wearing the plainest of outfits.
11. Chanel Camera Case
While most don’t take Chanel’s Camera bags into consideration, the fashion house has actually manufactured plenty of them throughout the decades, finishing them off with various leitmotifs and feelings. Investing in a Chanel Camera bag is a great idea, as you’ll get an elegantly small bag that just goes well with anything you might own in your closet.
12. Chanel Hobo Handbag
As with Chanel’s Camera bag, the Chanel Hobo handbag got featured in a plethora of seasonal collections, but it is with Chanel’s spring/ summer 2018 collection that the Hobo game reached its peak. One of the most iconic Chanel bags is, undoubtedly, the summer 2018 Hobo bag in PVC and metallic calfskin, which is already regarded as one of Lagerfeld’s most visionary Chanel additions.
13. Chanel Waist Bag
Like many other designers, Lagerfeld has tried to show his take on the waist bag trend, too (he often wears them so that was probably easy). Translated to completely different versions, Chanel’s waist bag is the must-have item for the Nineties lovers and will make a great investment for anyone who is collecting designer bags to use (or resell if you own a vintage shop) in next decade or so.
14. Chanel Drawstring Bag
Presented in the cruise 2017/ 18 collection, Chanel’s Drawstring bag is the perfect mid-seasonal bag, as it looks neither too wintery nor too summery. Spacious, comfortable to carry, and undeniably edgy, it will make the best Chanel bag for anyone who’s in love with the scandi-chic aesthetics, as well!
15. Chanel’s Gabrielle Small Backpack
If Chanel’s Gabrielle bag is your favorite handbag but you are looking for something easier to carry around, we recommend checking Chanel’s Gabrielle small backpack, a.k.a. the backpack many fashion lovers and it-girls are beginning to love and use 24/7.
16. Chanel Minaudiere
Chanel’s Minaudiere bags also share good doses of iconicity, especially when embellished with intricate beading. However, if you are looking for something even more iconic than the classic Chanel Minaudiere, we recommend looking for the transparent one form the spring/ summer 2018 season, which is made entirely from resin and metal. It is so exclusive, it is made on request!
17. Chanel Classic Handbag
Dubbed “classic” because, well, it is classic, Chanel’s Classic bag combines Chanel’s rectangular structure with its grandiose tweed, which is just the perfect material for the autumnal season. It comes in a plethora of fabrics and patterns, but it is usually pretty small (with the measurements being 16 × 26 × 7 cm). If you are about to make a big present for someone you love or care about, this Chanel bag might be the best option.