If you’ve never shopped for a designer handbag before, then it might feel a bit intimidating. With so many designers, retailers, and styles to choose from, it can be stressful, because you’re spending thousands of dollars on a single bag and want to make the right choice. Not only do you have to think about the type of bag you want, but whether you want it fresh out of the box and completely untouched or used but in pristine condition to shave off hundreds of dollars. Regardless of what you choose, there are online and in-person retailers that have hundreds of designer brands to help you find the perfect handbag.
You’ve probably heard of some of the major department stores like Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, and Nordstrom, but other new online commerce stores are popping up over the resale marketplace, making it easier than ever to snag a luxury handbag. We had two experts sit down to answer some of the most burning questions about designer handbags, from how to care for them to why they are such coveted items.
To help make the process easier, we’ve gathered some of the best places you can shop online for the designer handbag of your dreams.
When it comes to finding the right designer handbag, you’ll want to narrow down your options. When you create an account with Gilt, you’ll have the opportunity to shop by category or designer. If you go with the latter, click the name of the designer, and browse through hundreds of options. The great part about Gilt is that it provides easy access to designer handbags at a fraction of the cost (70 percent off the retail price for many). Next to each item, it will say whether it’s authentic pre-owned or not, followed by the price. If it was pre-owned, the description will state the condition (if there are any signs of excessive wear or flaws) and the bag's features. Not sold on the one you clicked? Scroll down to find recommended options from the same designer and others that may pique your interest.
Prices: $$-$$$$ | Shipping: $9.99 with standard delivery to the 48 contiguous United States | Return Policy: Within 30 days of receiving the shipment
Gilt holds daily flash sales so you have an even better chance of getting your dream designer bag at an unbeatable price.
Rebag is home to over 50 designers, so there are plenty to browse through to find a designer bag that aligns with what you're searching for. From Christian Dior and Gucci to Hermes and Louis Vuitton, find hundreds of bags (e.g., clutches, cross bodies, top handles) that have undergone a strict vetting process by in-house experts who thoroughly examine each bag to make sure it’s sold in quality condition before it reaches your door. At the bottom of the product page, there’s even a scale to look at that shows where the bag ranks, from outlet (heavy wear and missing accessories) to excellent (rarely worn and only showing light marks.) Not sure whether it’s the bag for you? Easily browse through similar styles from other brands to find another show stopper. To get started, make an account where you can find the latest deals and even save up to $200 on your first purchase of $750 or more.
Prices: $$$$ | Shipping: Free for all orders of or above $500 and $20 for all orders below $500 | Return Policy: A written request must be filed by email to firstname.lastname@example.org within 14 days of delivery
Rent The Runway
Sometimes, the thought of dropping a ton of money on one designer handbag can be intimidating, however, with Rent The Runway, you can rent different ones for a flat fee. Choose from one of three membership plans (four items for $89/month, eight items for $120/month and 16 items for $199/month). Regardless of the plan you choose (aside from the first one), you’ll receive full closet access and the ability to rent four items at a time—yes, that includes designer handbags. If you don’t have a membership, you can buy items for a one-time price or a one-time rental, but that’s up to you. While browsing, sort bags by color, occasion, and designer to narrow down the options. Find a detailed product description alongside pictures of the bag to see whether it meets your criteria.
Prices: $$-$$$ | Shipping: Orders ship out one or two days before the day your rental begins; will be delivered by 10 p.m. on the first day of your rental period | Return Policy: Members have no set return dates, but one-time reserve renters receive a return date by email. (Excludes items marked final sale.)
Unfortunately, you won’t find many of these designer handbags on sale at this luxury department store (although there are a few on the sale tab), but at least the website is easy to navigate. At the top of the homepage, you’ll find a designer category that has a specific tab for handbags. Browse through hundreds of bags by color, brand, feature, material, price, and style. Once you find a bag that catches your eye, glance over the images, reviews, details, and colors to see whether it’s a fit for you. At the bottom of the page, there’s a "Recommended for You" carousel that includes other items that people have purchased, in combination with the current product being viewed so you can complete your look.
Prices: $$-$$$$ | Shipping: Free standard shipping across the U.S. (including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico) | Return Policy: Determined on a case-by-case basis
Shopbop offers shoppers a unique curated collection of accessories and designer handbags for experienced shoppers and newbies alike. Utilize the discover feature under the bags tab to find bags under $300, vintage bags, boutique bags, and more. If you’re looking to stay up to date with the latest fashion trends on social media (neutral tones, cozy textures, and over the arm bags), there’s a section for that, too. Once you’ve found a bag that you like, scroll through product images and details (e.g., fabric, design, weight) to make sure it’s up to par, and add it to your bag. Still want to look? Check out the "You Might Like" and "Wear It With" tabs for other options and future outfit inspirations. Better yet, US Amazon Prime members get free two-day shipping on all Shopbop products—including designer handbags.
Prices: $$-$$$$ | Shipping: Free (one to three days in the U.S.) | Return Policy: Free returns within 15 days or less; $10 label fee if returned within 16-30 days; no returns after 30 days
For the newest and noteworthy designer handbags, head over to Bloomingdale’s to find a wide selection of new arrivals, best sellers, customer top-rated bags, and more. Some of the designers available are Bottega Veneta, Burberry, Balenciaga, and Saint Laurent. Once you find a bag you like, view the page to find product details and further information about the designer and the brand's shipping and returns policies. To make the process more seamless, shoppers can look over reviews from customers to see their thoughts on a bag and whether the overall consensus looks more positive than not. Still on the hunt? There’s a recommended section where you’ll find other bags from the same designer that you may want to check out.
Prices: $$$-$$$$ | Shipping: Processed and shipped within two business days | Return Policy: Within 90 days in resellable condition
This popular retailer makes it easy to find a designer handbag that suits your needs with its detailed search system. Filter the hundreds of handbags based on color, material (e.g., nylon, faux leather, canvas), style (e.g., satchel, clutch, crossbody), color, and price. Macy’s carries more affordable designer brands, like Lauren Ralph Lauren, MICHAEL Michael Kors, Coach, and Brahmin. When clicking on a specific bag, shoppers can view images, product details, and reviews to help them make an informed purchase. Curious about other bags? At the bottom of the page, find a "Customers Also Loved" section filled with similar options from the same designer.
Prices: $-$$$ | Shipping: Free with $25 and free for Macy’s Star Rewards Platinum and Gold Members | Return Policy: 90 days of purchase with original tags
From Coach to Dooney and Bourke, Belk is home to a plethora of designer handbags available to shop both online and in-store. Browse your way through bags on clearance, plus vintage bags, new arrivals, and more. Belk partnered with What Goes Around Comes Around, which features pre-owned designer handbags at a fraction of the price. Not only is this part of the initiative to make the fashion industry more sustainable, it gives more people the opportunity to access designer brands. On the product page, view a variety of color options in addition to product details and reviews from previous customers.
Prices: $$-$$$$ | Shipping: Free shipping for orders over $59, and $8.95 for orders $58.99 or less | Return Policy: Within 90 days of online purchase for total value refunded
With Kendall Jenner as the brand's creative director, FWRD is sure to offer a unique selection of bags, both vintage and contemporary. Browse through the available bags by category and brand. On the product page, shoppers will find details, styling tips, and designer factoids. Scroll down to the bottom to view other bags you may also like from the same and different brands. Note: there isn’t a place to look at reviews, so you might want to do some outside research to make sure a few others have had positive experiences with the bag you’re looking to purchase.
Prices: $$$-$$$$ | Shipping: Free two-day shipping; next day costs $24 to $30 | Return Policy: Within 60 days for a full refund and within 90 days for an exchange
From Christian Dior and Hermes to Chanel and Louis Vuitton, Fashionphile is home to hundreds of designer handbags to browse. On-site, shoppers will find the estimated retail price versus Fashionphile’s price (typically a few $100 less), product condition, and description. In terms of condition, the brand ranks its bags on a scale from giftable (e.g., completely new items in original box with attached retail stickers) to flawed (in good condition but with a noticeable defect that affects the overall appearance). Once your bag has had its run, you can sell it back for up to 75 percent.
Prices: $$-$$$$ | Shipping: Free insured shipping within the domestic United States | Return Policy: Within thirty 30 days of purchase date
Luxury Garage Sale
Luxury Garage Sale is a one-stop shop for people to buy and sell authentic and luxury brands. LGS has one of the most intricate filter systems out of any retailer listed here. Shoppers can narrow down the hundreds of options based on designer, style, model, color, pattern, material, closure, handle, detail, condition, size, price, and fulfillment. On each product page, the bag condition and condition description are listed, and it will note whether it’s an authentic designer bag. Still unsure of which bag to choose from? Scroll through the recommended bags at the bottom of the page or similar bags from the same designer.
Prices: $$-$$$$ | Shipping: $14.95 with standard shipping anywhere in the continental United States | Return Policy: Handbags are final sale
This site is the real deal, seriously. Browse based on editor’s picks, vintage items, sale selections, bags with tags, and more. On each product page, shoppers will find product descriptions, details, and conditions. The condition levels range from pristine (no signs of being worn, tags, box, and dust bag) to fair (signs of heavy wear like scratches and worn corners). To top it off, the site lists the retail value of every designer bag right next to the price, which makes it easy to see that you’re getting a good deal.
Prices: $$-$$$$ | Shipping: $12.95 for standard shipping (three to five days) | Return Policy: Online returns must be requested within 14 days of shipment or in-store purchase date; items received after 21 days or with the security tag missing or removed cannot be returned
What to Look for When Buying Designer Bags
When shopping for a designer bag it’s imperative to consider your style preferences. Do you want a crossbody, clutch, tote, or shoulder bag? The small details, like whether there’s a snap closure or zipper, are important to keep in mind, because if you have an active lifestyle, the last thing you want is for your belongings to fall out accidentally.
Signs of wear
Depending on the retailer you purchase your bag from, you’ll want to stay on top of the condition. If it’s a new bag, then you won’t have to worry about it. However, for designer handbags that are being resold, it’s important to take note of the condition. On many of the sites mentioned above, there’s typically a condition section next to the product. There you’ll find the categories (typically along the lines of fair to pristine) that indicate how much wear and tear the bag has gone through, like having worn corners or scratches on the hardware or leather.
For some people, a designer bag with a scratch or two might not mean anything if it means getting the bag at a fraction of the price. However, for those who want the bag to resemble as close to an unopened original as possible, paying attention to the small details is important.
How do you take care of designer bags?
When it comes to taking care of designer bags, Alsulaiman gets her expert advice on how to do this at home. Here are the five tips she shared with us:
Protect your handbag from moisture
“Dampening from the air where the bags are stored or from using the bags outdoors can lead to mold growth and wear down the leather. Investing in a small dehumidifier can help avoid the occurrence of mold on or in your handbags.”
Avoid color transfer
“This transfer can be both ways. For example, the dye can transfer and stain your leather if you wear dark jeans. And on the flip side, if your handbag has dyed and colored leather, be extra careful around water, or the dye can bleed and stain your clothes.”
Don't place your handbag directly on the ground
“We are all guilty of this bit unless your handbag comes with protective metal feet; you risk wearing down the leather and getting it dirty by placing it on the ground when you are out. Alternatively, ask for an extra stool or seat, or bring a bag hook to use on the table.”
Avoid loose pens or makeup inside the bag
“Lids can come off inside the bag, and the last thing you want inside your designer handbag is ink stains or makeup stains. So carry everything in pouches to avoid any mishaps.”
Store the bags in the original boxes
“Whenever possible, hold on to the original box, and store the handbag there; however, suppose you don't have space or don't have the box. In those cases, it's best to keep it upright in its original dust bag or lay it flat if it has handles or chain-link, to ensure that they don't touch the body of the bag, possibly causing some indentations or stains.”
Do designer bags go up in value?
The short answer is that most designer bags don’t go up in value. Alsulaiman says that very few designer bags go up in style and that the few brands that do typically are Hermes and Chanel. “Looking at Chanel and their classic flap bag, in 2013 it previously sold for $4,400," says Desiree Miranda. "Now, due to competitor pricing, they are being sold for $8,800."
Why are designer bags so expensive?
As you might have guessed, designer bags are expensive for a reason.
“It all boils down to craftsmanship, high-quality materials, and the brand history,” says Alsulaiman. “For example, the leather used in designer handbags is of the finest quality. In addition, the locks, chains, and other metal accents on designer bags are often plated with real gold, pure silver, and are sometimes even diamond-encrusted.”
What are the benefits to investing in a designer bag?
The reasons one might buy a designer bag may differ, but Miranda believes they can elevate one’s entire appearance. “I view designer bags almost as a status symbol," says Miranda. "To anyone who knows and appreciates fashion when they see a woman wearing the latest Chanel or a classic Birkin, they are painting a picture. Your clothes and outfit should always portray and reflect who you are."
On a more personal note, having a designer bag can be a personal achievement. For many, the first designer bag that one purchases is a standout occasion. Whether they are at a point in their life where they have enough disposable income to spend on a bag or if they were promoted, this is a special milestone. However, remember that your worth is not measured by how many designer bags you own.
Why Trust Byrdie
Casey Clark is a Byrdie contributor and has written about fashion for other publications like StyleCaster, Reviewed, and BuzzFeed. She conducted hours of research on the best bag retailers, and considered dozens of sources for this roundup. Her bag of choice these days: a pink Kate Spade.