Interview with Winnie of Vintage Heirloom
Regular readers of my blog will know I am head-over-heels in love with Chanel and I am lucky enough to own a fair few pairs of shoes, jewellery, accessories and a small collection of handbags. I’m a lucky girl! I recently added a beautiful 1999/2000 Chanel to my collection which I got from designer vintage specialist, Vintage Heirloom. Founder, Winnie, has been dealing in designer vintage for years and specialises in Chanel. She has bought and sold more Chanel than I could ever dream of and I had to ask her a few questions about her work, her personal collection, authenticating Chanel Handbags and her handbag collection!
Head over to Vintage Heirloom to see the beautiful selection of Chanel she has in stock, all of which are guaranteed authentic and if you are shopping from overseas you automatically get 20% off with duty free shopping. If you are a new customer at Vintage Heirloom, you can get 10% off your order with the promo code ‘vintage lunch’. Enjoy!
When did you buy your first piece of Chanel?
My first Chanel I ever bought was back in 2006, I got it at the Hammersmith Vintage Fair. The stall holder was selling her Aunt’s estate and was just pricing stuff up accordingly. I saw this bag, it was in pretty bad shape but it was lambskin leather with matelasse quilting and interwoven strap – I knew it was Chanel. I think I only paid £45. I felt like I had won the lottery! I still have it and its one of my favourite pieces. And it was the last time I paid £45 for Chanel, LOL!
How many Chanel bags do you have in your personal collection?
I don’t have as much as you think I do! Oh, how I would love to keep every piece of Chanel that goes on my website! My collection keeps rotating, if something catches my eye, I have to swap out something of my personal collection to justify keeping it. I have average 3-6 bags in my personal collection. What I do love collecting is vintage Chanel jewellery, some of those pieces are very precious to me. (See first image for some of Winnie’s Chanel jewels)
What’s the biggest misconception about vintage Chanel handbags?
I think some of the misconception is that Chanel do evolve and change the way they make their bags. For example, the hot stamping (on the inside of the bags where the brand name ‘Chanel’ and ‘Made In’ is stamped) on a classic flap bag differs to the ones made in the 70/80’s. The early models look slightly ‘off kilter’ and this throws people off thinking it’s a fake as it is not ‘exacting’. The early models have little ‘irregularities’ as they were made by hand.
Is there any particular handbag you would love to get your hands on?
I am after another one of these duffel style bag. This is one bag I regret selling.
(see photo above of the beautiful brown Chanel tote)
How did you learn to authenticate handbags?
I have handled many vintage Chanel bags so learning to authenticate is from experience. Believe me I have learnt from mistakes (buying fake bags). When you handle vintage Chanel you start to notice certain traits, you start becoming familiar with styles, types of leather, stitching, hardware and even the smell of leather! We work with leather restorers like Leather Surgeons. Gerry knows a lot about Chanel bags, as he restores bags – he knows them inside out, literally! So I get a lot of advice and feedback from him as well.
Any advice for those considering buying a vintage designer handbag?
There is nothing wrong with buying vintage from a marketplace like eBay but you just have to be careful and use your common sense like looking at the seller’s feedback. Just ask lots of questions, are the photo’s clear? Do they show the authenticity markers like serial number and or Authenticity card etc.. For bags that have been repaired, the seller should note it in their description, and bags that have been colour dyed, I would be careful. Depending who did the re-colouring, most just spray paint it and over time this dries out the leather and leads to faint cracks and creases, basically it isn’t very good for the leather and when you come to re-sell this may cause a problem. We don’t advise re-colouring your bag from one colour to a different colour.
If someone was to find a vintage Chanel in a charity shop and they couldn’t work out if it was real or not, what advice would you give them for authenticating the handbag?
The internet is full of advice and great websites like PurseForum are helpful. We have a YouTube Channel that can help and our blog is full of useful information. If you are still unsure we do offer a paid authentication service with Leather Surgeons.