Everything You Should Know Before Buying Secondhand Designer Goods

Finding out someone scored designer bags or shoes at a vintage shop is always pretty impressive. Secondhand shopping is tricky enough in general, but throw in that added element of luxury and many are left with dozens, if not hundreds, of questions: "How can we trust this item is authentic?" "Is it really worth buying a used Chanel bag instead of a new one?" Thankfully, there are experts out there ready to answer these Qs in a snap, and, in the process, help us not max out our credit cards.

One of those experts is Rati Levesque, chief merchant at TheRealReal, one of the largest and most well-known online luxury consignment destinations for shoppers. She gave us some honest scoops on how to shop secondhand designer bags, revealing how to buy items we covet for a fraction of the original price. Read Rati's secrets to consignment shopping ahead and ultimately save yourself from regret post-purchase.

POPSUGAR: What's one tip you would give to those who are new to consignment shopping?
Rati Levesque: "Make sure everything is authentic, whether you're shopping online or in store. That's key. You also want to check the condition [of the item] and check the return policy, so you can easily return something if you have to. Make sure there are pictures that show what the description of the item is, especially if you're buying something online."

PS: What designers or brands should we look out for?
RL: "I always look at what has resale value. Chanel, Hermes, Celine, and Louis Vuitton all have great resale value when it comes to handbags. Anything that's current, anything you find at retailers like Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bergdorf Goodman. Up-and-coming brands have resale value when it comes to contemporary."

PS: Are there any popular pieces you see people buying right now?
RL: "A brand's most iconic pieces sell out quickly — the Chanel flap bags, the Valentino rock studs, the Chloé Drew bag, and Gucci bags because they are having a moment right now. Some of the older belts with the Gucci logo on it and all of that stuff we call 'logo mania' are doing great."

PS: What type of designer goods are worth buying secondhand?
RL: "All of it does really well if you are trying to reconsign it. None of it loses significant value if you are buying things that are on trend or in the moment. Jewelry and watches are big for us, along with shoes, accessories like scarves, and ready-to-wear."

Getty | Kirstin Sinclair

PS: Is it worth investing in designer pieces that are a size too big or have other problem areas?
RL: "I think buying pieces that are bigger is OK if you have a good tailor. Sometimes I buy skirts that are one size bigger or off, and I'll either wear them baggy or take them to my alterations person and get them hemmed. If you like something, there are definitely ways to make it work."

PS: What is the one mistake you see shoppers making when buying secondhand designer items?
RL: "The biggest problem is buying from non-authenticated sites, whether it's fine jewelry or a watch. I've seen customers get duped that way."

PS: And for sellers, what mistakes do you see them making when consigning designer goods?
RL: "In terms of consigning, not keeping things in good condition. You have to ask yourself, is the condition good enough that I [as a shopper] would buy and wear it? Do I have all the original boxing, packaging, and tags? Just treating your pieces well will give you more of a return investment in the secondary market."

PS: Lastly, what are you into buying this season?
RL: "I really like the layering trend, so I'm looking at skirts and boot-leg or flared pants. I'm also looking for a great coat for Fall."