How to Find High Quality Pre-Owned Designer Gear

At some point, an expensive designer item will catch your eye. It might be a classic quilted Chanel handbag or perhaps a special piece of jewelry. If your style is edgier, maybe it’s a skull-covered McQueen scarf. For me though, it was always Louis Vuitton. As long as I can remember, I dreamed of the day that I could save up enough money to buy my own LV.

However, like many women, I was always on a tight budget and as the years passed, it became clear that a $1,500 handbag wasn’t a realistic purchase. So I decided to compromise—if I couldn’t have a brand new Louis Vuitton, I would have to settle for the next best thing: a pre-owned piece. In my search for the perfect Louis Vuitton, I picked up several tricks for scoring high-quality, pre-owned, affordable designer gear.

Here are some tips that will help you find the designer piece that you’ve been lusting after:

The Internet is your best friend.

Source: Lace and Locks

Luckily for you, the Internet is a gold mine of great designer pieces—if you know where to look, that is. You may be tempted to scour Ebay or Craigslist for a cheap designer bag, but keep in mind that unless you can see the bag in person, you’ll have to rely on the seller’s word that it’s authentic. Use extreme caution if you go this route! I’ve seen people get ripped off on these sites, and there’s no way to get your money back.

A better option is to tap into the various resale companies that have cropped up in the last few years, many of which specialize in pre-owned designer gear. My favorites are Rue La La and The Real Real, and our managing editor swears by Fashionphile (and their layaway service). These sites always have a variety of gear from the best brand names and they carry every style you can imagine. What’s even better is that experts verify the authenticity of each item to ensure no knockoffs slip through. While browsing these sites, be sure to note the quality rating of the goodies—if you spot a deal that’s too good to be true, it’s usually because the piece shows noticeable signs of wear.

Do your research, then head to a thrift shop.

Source: The Blonde Salad

Consignment stores, vintage boutiques, and thrift shops are another place to find designer pieces at budget-friendly prices. When I was in college, one of my fashion professors repeated stories about vintage Chanel jackets she found at a local Salvation Army. The trick to this approach is to know what you’re looking for—and be appropriately skeptical.

Before you head out to scour your local boutiques, read up on the signs of a designer knockoff. After all, it’s easy for someone to sew a designer label into a fake garment or bag. A few telltale signs of a fraud include:

  • A label that’s sewn crooked
  • Low-quality materials (e.g. plastic where there should be metal)
  • Uneven or poor-quality stitching
  • Low-quality hardware (zippers, tabs and other metal pieces)
  • For handbags, lack of a blind stamp or identification stamp

If you’re ever unsure of a piece’s authenticity, ask how the store verified it was real. Secondhand retailers like Salvation Army don’t verify their goods, so you may have to take a leap of faith. However, if you’re shopping at a consignment or vintage boutique, they likely have a screening process for designer gear.

Commit to quality.

Source: Marianna Makela

Unless luck is on your side, you probably won’t find your dream piece on the first try. Never settle just because it appears to be a good deal. It may take a few months before you find the brand and style you want at the right price, but be patient. I speak from experience when I say that nothing beats the feeling of unwrapping your very own flawless, authentic Louis Vuitton—or Chanel, Dior, Hermes, McQueen, or other brand—and then getting bombarded with compliments when you carry it!

Do you have any pre-owned designer gear? Where did you get it?