Let’s Chat Luxury Auctions
My friends, today I want to share some information with you about designer fashion auctions and luxury auctions which will save you a fortune! Now we have all heard about the Birkin bags which fetch hundreds of thousands of pounds at auction, however, how many of us read those articles and think ‘GREAT! I’ll get shopping!’? I know I don’t! I simply don’t have that kind of cash to drop on a handbag. It might seem like luxury handbag auctions are for the super rich, however, it’s also for the more modest of shoppers… like me! I’ve bought a fair few Chanel bags at auction now and honestly, it’s so good! It saves me a fortune and I love picking up piece which I missed out on at the time. So today I want to share some information about the five uk fashion auctions you need to know about. Also, I wrote this post about buying designer handbags at auction, which might also be worth a read as there’s a lot in this post about buying, authenticity, condition reports, viewing and how to bid.
International Fashion Auctions
As for my international friends, you can also bid online at any of these auctions, however, but you might want to have a google and see if you can find fashion auctions closer to you, or at least in your country, as shipping the items might cost you more than you expect with potential import duties, insurances and postage costs. That being said, some luxury auctions have multiple sales around the world, like Christie’s and Sotheby’s, so it’s worth looking into those two, or just having a google and seeing what you can find in your country. Also, if you don’t live in a big city, you can bid at most luxury sales via online form or via telephone, so look for the country of the sale, rather than the city.
Preloved Authentic Designer Handbags
Just a quick note on authenticity as it can be a nerve-wracking buying a designer handbag on the preloved market. Each auction house has a team of specialists who check and authenticate EVERY single item so you are guaranteed that you are buying authentic designer items.
Another quick note here, as I usually skip the salesroom viewings in favour of viewing the online catalogue. One of the most important things to look at is the condition reports. Each piece is graded by it’s condition and these influence the estimates. The specialists are very picky on the condition and they will notice things that you or I might not. So do look at the condition report and don’t be put off if it’s a B, as I have bought B’s before and thought they looked near perfect!
Before you bid at auction you will need to register as a buyer, this will usually include filling in a few details ahead of the sale (try and do it a good few days before the sale so you have time to put your bids in and get your account up and running) and sometimes you need to provide bank details or proof of ID too. With most of these auctions, you can bid online, over the phone or in the sale room on the day. So even if you can’t make it to the sale, you can still buy. I’ve bought two Chanel bags by leaving a phone bid ahead of the sale and thanks to the comprehensive condition report and description, I knew exactly what I was buying ahead of the sale.
If you are new to buying at auction, it is worth remembering that there is a buyer premium you have to pay on top of the price of the item. This is really important to consider, as if the hammer price is £2,000, after the buyers premium you might end up spending more like £2,600. So please do work this into your budget before you bid, you might want to lower your top price to accomodate for the buyer premium, which changes from house to house and country to country, but generally, assume it’s 30% including the VAT and then if it’s less you have a very nice surprise! I know it sounds like a lot, but for a little context, I bought this Chanel tote bag for less than £1000 Including the buyers premium and I’ve seen the same bag being sold online on preloved websites for double that price!
How To Buy A Birkin
Truthfully… at auction! As someone who has spent a fair amount of money in Hermes trying to convince them to sell me a Kelly Bag, I can assure you, buying a Birkin in a Hermes shop is actually REALLY hard. Instead, buy one at auction. You will have more of a selection of colours and sizes to choose from and you will have the option of paying a fortune for a super rare exotic leather Birkin, or you can opt for a gently used classic black or brown Birkin which is lovely and easy to wear, but will cost less than retail price. Trust me, if you want to buy a Birkin, do it at auction. Also, just a reminder, if you buy it via specialist auction like Bonhams, Christie’s or Sotheby’s, it will be 100% authentic too.
OK! Where Are The Fashion Auctions In The UK?
Christies: Possibly the most famous auction house in the world. These guys usually hold two luxury handbag sales per year in London, as well as more at their international locations. This is an auction house for the elite; They sell a lot of Birkin’s and Kelly’s, and they have them in rare colours, pristine condition and exotic leathers which are the most expensive and sought after. There tends to be less ‘lots’ in Christie’s auctions as they truly do just take the creme de la creme. The is an auction house for the big collectors and if I’m truly honest with you, this is where you go if you want to buy something rare and exclusive, rather than picking up a bargain! If you have the big bucks, enjoy! Otherwise, join me in drooling over the bi-annual catalogue! Also… If you are the kind of person (like me!) who feels a little intimidated shopping in the very fancy shops, this is the auction house equivalent. If you are browsing, I’d do it online – same with Sotheby’s!
Sotheby’s: Another auction house for the big time collectors; Sotheby’s sell mostly Hermes, with a little rare Chanel and Louis Vuitton, and much like Christie’s they deal in the creme de la creme of designer bags. If you are looking for rarer items of mostly Hermes and you like to buy pristine condition items and budget isn’t too much of a consideration, then make sure you check out Sotheby’s. Also, much like Christie’s, they have a more curated sale, so there might be slightly less choice than other auctions, but you will also find items here that you won’t find elsewhere.
Bonhams: Fun fact! Bonhams are the inspiration behind this post because they have a sale next week and I’m in the process of registering as a buyer and I will be bidding HARD on a few items in the next sale! Bonham’s is one of my personal favourite auction houses because they have a little more selection than Sotheby’s and Christie’s, and whilst they have some really exciting and rare items for the collectors, they also have some great pieces for gals like me who are looking to buy something stunning at less than retail price. They have a selection of the top tier brands, plenty of Chanel, Hermes and Louis as well as some jewellery, clothing and some other top brands like Gucci, YSL and Dior. They are also a very friendly auction house, I never feel embarrassed to ask them for valuations for items I’m considering selling or further questions on items I’m planning to buy. They have a sale next week and you can see the catalogue here, also all the images used in this post are courtesy of Bonhams.
Chiswick Auctions: Another auction house I love and they kindly guided me through the world of buying Chanel at Auction too! I have sold items via their house and also bought items. Much like Bonhams they have a great selection top designers, in the category of clothes, fashion and jewellery. They have lots of Chanel, Hermes, Gucci, Louis, Dior, Celine and more. Again, they are very friendly and helpful when it comes to valuations and answering my questions. You can read this post on selling my Chanel Jewellery at Auction and this post on buying the Chanel Modern Chain Tote at Auction too.
Fellow’s: Fellow’s auctions are based in Birmingham and they have five big sales every year. I’ve never bought via Fellow’s, but I can tell you that they have a HUGE selection of brands and prices. It’s good for a bargain and whilst it has a nice amount of Chanel in their salesroom, they also have brands like Russell & Bromley and Butler & Wilson. They might seem a little less luxury on the surface as their sales are so vast, but they have some good stock of some good brands. This is apparently the best salesroom for finding a real bargain too!
…And that my friends, is the Fashion Auctions & Luxury Auctions you need to know about. I hope this is of help and please do let me know if you have any questions! Images c/o Bonhams, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Also, if you are in the mood to buy yourself something lovely, do check out their forthcoming Designer Handbags & Fashion sale.