Sad news for Alexa Chung this week. In the UK, Chanel has increased the cost of its handbags for the fourth time since the beginning of the pandemic, lumping thousands of pounds onto its signature quilted pieces. Granted, luxury labels raise their prices around once every twelve months, but in just under two years, Chanel’s pricier accessories have now become as expensive as Birkins.
Take the trajectory of the brand’s Classic Flap for example, which prior to March 2020, was priced at £4,620. In June 2020, it then rose to £5,300, followed by £5,550 in October, and £5,780 by July 2021, with this month’s price adjustment now reaching £6,630. That’s an increase of 40 per cent of the bag’s pre-pandemic worth, meaning Kristen Stewart’s collection alone could rival the GDP of some small countries. While these kinds of pricing changes are largely to do with material and labour, Chanel’s latest boost (a hefty 15.5 per cent) seems to be more about maintaining exclusivity and protecting itself from the behemoth of the resale market.
Alongside a number of new initiatives that have been rolled out by Chanel is a new policy – currently in place in Korea, at least – that places a cap on the number of bags that certain customers can purchase. Much like Hermès, Rolex, or Louis Vuitton, customers can only buy one Classic Flap and one Coco Handle per year. That is, unless you’re Cardi B and are constantly hooked up to some kind of calfskin IV drip. Beyond the quota system, the label has also begun to swap out its authentication cards for techy authentication plates, making it harder for Chanel items to slip into the luxury resale market, where the brand has no control over the products being offered up, the condition of those goods, and the way in which they’re sold.
Though these aggressive increases may stave off customers who buy solely for the purpose of resale, Chanel has also revamped its warranty program, extending its aftercare offering from one year to five years – again, distinct from purchases that come by way of resellers. “The price of a Chanel bag reflects not only a sense of exclusivity, but also our values,” a representative of the brand said. “Buying a Chanel bag brings with it renowned expertise and French design, an unfailing commitment to preserve skills and craftsmanship, leading-edge innovative manufacture, and guaranteed provenance of the raw materials.”