Maybe you’re wondering why the heck am I writing about buying designer goods if my blog is about being thrifty and saving money, Well, it’s because, over the years of thrifting, I’ve learned ways on how to buy authentic designer goods really cheap. And I wanted to share this with you in case you’re also interested in owning a few designer pieces.
Over the years that I have been thrifting, I’ve bought and sold a lot of authentic designer goods and even made a full-time business out of it.
Designer goods are known for their to-die-for design aesthetic (some but not all LOL!), amazing attention to detail, high-quality craftsmanship, and of course, way too high retail price. The retail price is so high that it’s almost inaccessible for most people especially in third world countries such as where I’m from.
However, despite the high price, they’re still very popular with a lot of people due to a variety of reasons.
Personally, I’m attracted to some designer brands due to their design aesthetic that appeals to me. Some of the brands that I love for bags include Bottega Veneta, Prada, and Celine.
And for clothes and accessories, I like Yohji Yamamoto, Ann Demeulemeester, Sacai, Tsumori Chisato, Issey Miyake, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander Mcqueen, Maison Martin Margiela, and more.
Why Does it Make Sense for Me to Buy Designer Goods?
Just to make it clear, I also buy a lot of non-designer items to sell and for personal use.
However, as much as I could, especially if the selling price is very low then I’ll buy designer goods. Primarily because of two things:
1. High Resell Price: I have sold ALL the designer goods that I have bought in the past higher than what I paid for them. This wouldn’t always happen to non-designer items.
Sure, I can profit a dollar or two from non-designer items if we’re going to compute just the cost of the item.
But if I add the cost of acquisition and my operational cost then I wouldn’t profit at all, in fact, I’d be on the losing end.
But for designer items that I was able to buy quite cheaply, not only did I cover my operational cost and other variable business costs, I also did get a nice profit from them. And my customers are happy because they also get to buy designer items for a small fraction of the retail price.
2. High-Quality Craftsmanship: To be honest I couldn’t say this for all brands because I’ve seen a few items that make me really wonder why they’re being sold at an exorbitant retail price.
But for most designer pieces that I’ve bought and sold in the past, especially the vintage ones, I always find myself in awe of the craftsmanship.
So, maybe you’re wondering, how do I get to buy authentic designer goods really cheap? Well, here’s how:
You Should Know What to Look For
It doesn’t matter where you will buy your items from if you know what you’re looking for. This is basically the most important thing to know if you want to buy designer goods really cheap.
You have to know what to look for.
Here are some important tips that could help you improve your designer knowledge database.
Thrift stores and online shops are peppered with counterfeit goods. Some of the items are obviously fake and sadly, a growing number of these items are almost identical to the authentic ones that some people usually call – ‘Super Fakes’.
Before you start hunting for designer items offline and online, I highly suggest that you start by familiarizing yourself with what authentic items look like.
There are so many available resources online on how to authenticate items depending on the brand and the model.
However, please do take note that because of the huge number of designer label brands and items, there’s not much info about some of them especially less popular brands.
When authenticating designer items yourself, always make sure to scrutinize every detail. Always check the quality of the material, the labels, fonts, spelling, stitches, hardware, anti-counterfeit tags such as hologram stickers, etc.
And if in doubt, please save yourself from stress and do not buy the item.
I have made so many mistakes in the past (and still making a few every now and then) and I always end up losing money afterward. The main reason I make mistakes is that I let my laziness get the best of me.
Most of the time, I only do a quick check only to find out later that the item that I bought was fake.
These mistakes though helped me improve the way I authenticate items because mistakes that cost you money are always hard to forget. LOL!
Stay Away from ‘It Bags’ or a Designer Label ‘Most Popular Item’
If you’re buying from new online stores with only a little feedback or if you’re buying from thrift stores, I highly suggest that you stay away from ‘It Bags’ especially if you’re not familiar with authenticity.
The ‘It Bags’ or the most popular bags of certain brands are the most counterfeited items. There’s a high chance of encountering a fake if you’re hunting for a designer label’s most popular item compare to their less popular item.
Counterfeiters create more of these than less popular items because their chances of selling them are higher of course. It’s just a basic supply and demand thing.
Some of the ‘It Bags’ that you have to stay away from if you’re not familiar with authenticity include (but not limited to) – Louis Vuitton Monogram Bags; Balenciaga Motorcycle Bags; Chanel Quilted Bags, Givenchy Nightingale, Pandora and Antigona, Celine Phantom, Trio, and Luggage, Chloe Paraty and Marcie, Issey Miyake Bao Bao, Dior Monogram and Saddle Bags, Gucci Sukey and other Gucci Monogram Bags, Hermes Birkin, Kelly and more; Bottega Veneta Pouch, Cabat, Knot Clutches and more.
Sadly as years, go by, the variety of bags and other designer items that are being counterfeited are also increasing so always stay vigilant.
Some of the most highly counterfeited clothes and accessories include (but not limited to) – Balmain T-Shirts, Comme des Garcons Play Shirts and Shoes, Alexander Mcqueen Scarves, Hermes Scarves, and other small leather goods, Valentino Rockstud shoes, and more.
If you really want to buy these items then I highly suggest that you only buy from highly reputable stores which means that the price will not be that cheap as well.
But, it will save you some unnecessary worries about the authenticity of these designer goods.
How to Buy Authentic Designer Goods Really Cheap from Thrift Stores
Go to Thrift Shops as Often as You Could
I go to thrift shops for as much as thrice a week before the pandemic happened. And I just don’t go to thrift shops in my city. I travel to nearby provinces and I even fly to other islands in the Philippines and other countries in Southeast Asia just to scour their thrift shops in search of vintage and preloved designer pieces.
I understand that most people will not be able to do this as much as I can because of other responsibilities in life such as employment. In that case, you should maximize your thrift store visits by knowing WHEN TO GO.
Know the Best Time to Go to Thrift Shops
If your sole purpose in going to thrift shops is to only hunt for vintage and preloved designer bags, shoes, clothes, and other accessories, I highly suggest that you only go during their ‘New Arrival Day’. I don’t know what it’s called in other countries but here in the Philippines, thrift shops call this day their ‘New Arrival Day’.
This is basically the very first day they display their new inventories. And this is probably one of the few chances that you might get to score a designer item.
Before online selling became a hit in the Philippines, you could basically go any day to any thrift shop and have the chance to score a designer item.
But nowadays, that is almost close to impossible. Why? Because a lot of online sellers like me would probably have bought all the available designer items on the ‘New Arrival Day’.
Look for ‘Off the Beaten Path’ Thrift Stores
I often find a few nice authentic vintage pieces from thrift stores that are located away from the main road. Why? Because their location makes them inaccessible to a lot of people.
And because of their inaccessibility, the competition (for designer goods hunters) like me is lower.
Thrift stores that are located in shopping malls and on main roads are often been drained dry by those who know what to look for.
Build a Relationship with Thrift Store Owners/Sales Staff
Whenever I go thrifting, I always authenticate items on site.
However, it does take a lot of time. Sometimes, if I’m not 100% sure if the item is fake nor authentic, I will still buy it and authenticate it as soon as I go home.
If the resell value of the item is so high, I don’t risk leaving it behind for fear of having it bought by the next online seller like me who will visit the thrift shop.
Sometimes, it turns out that the item is fake. And I often return the item to the shop and ask for a replacement.
Not all thrift shops here accept returns so be sure to build a good relationship with the sales staff to make this return process as quick and as easy as possible.
How to Buy Authentic Designer Goods Really Cheap from Online Stores
Buy from Stores with A Lot of Positive Feedback
If you’re buying from online websites such as eBay, Carousell, Shopee, Grailed, and Depop, always buy from stores with a lot of positive feedback. The feedback system is created to help weed out the scammers out there.
Personally, aside from buying my inventory from thrift stores, I also buy from other online sellers, and one time I almost got scammed.
The seller that I would have bought a bag from posted a Bottega Veneta Vintage Belt Bag for a super-duper low price.
However, the seller was newly registered in Carousell and did not have any feedback yet both from sellers and buyers alike.
Since the price was very very low and the item was a unique piece, I have decided to contact the seller. My gut feels that something is off so to stay on the safe side, I asked the seller if it’s ok to do a Cash on Delivery instead of depositing the money to his/her account. The seller agreed.
It’s been a few days since my first contact with this seller and he/she wasn’t giving me any updates with the tracking number or what have you. Lo and behold, just a few days after contacting this person, his account was tagged with unresolved transactions by the app and numerous negative feedback from other online sellers that I know started appearing on his account.
I was so glad that I did not deposit the money into his account and dodged this bullet.
I do understand that there are also a lot of new and reputable sellers out there who don’t have feedback yet on their selling account because they just probably registered recently to selling apps.
But just to stay on the safe side, always take precautions when buying from sellers without any feedback yet. Stay vigilant!
Ask for Pictures, Details Etc
If the description and the photos posted are unclear and not enough to help you self-authenticate the items. Please do not hesitate to ask for more pictures and to ask for details such as serial numbers etc.
Also, aside from authenticity, I’m also very much concerned with the actual condition of the item. I want to know the actual condition of what I’m buying.
I also don’t want to receive an authentic item but completely unsellable or even unusable due to various reasons (sticky lining, foul smell, etc).
Authenticity and the actual condition are my two main concerns when buying online. And it should be the two things that you should also be wary of.
Don’t hesitate to ask for photos of the corners, the hardware, back of zipper pullers, interior, close-up pics of tags and labels, etc.
If you’re not confident in self-authenticating the item that you are intending to buy then do not hesitate to have it authenticated by professionals.
Send the pictures to the authenticator of your choice and wait for the result before you buy the item. Do ask the seller to hold the item for you for a period of time if it’s ok with them.
Buy from Stores with Money Back Guarantee
The number of stores that are offering money-back guarantees in the Philippines is growing and it’s good news for buyers. This adds confidence to buyers that the shops that they’re buying from are confident with the authenticity of the items that they’re selling.
Always Read the Full Description Before Buying Anything Online
A lot of online sellers (but not all) do post the actual description of the item and their terms and conditions. Please be wary of terms such as:
- Class A
- Mall Pull Outs
Most of the items with these descriptions tend to be fake. Do you think Louis Vuitton or Gucci or other luxury brands will have no control over their overruns (if there would be any)?
And also, aside from authenticity, most reputable sellers will disclose the actual condition of the bag, so pay attention to their posts to avoid the hassle of returning the items.
Buy from Other Countries
You can buy vintage and preloved items from other countries as the prices tend to be lower than our counterparts in Western countries.
Some of the reasons for the price difference may include, high supply versus demand, the cost of acquiring the item, our cost of living in our country, our variable cost in operating a buy and sell business (such as labor, etc), and the purchasing power of the local market.
Just an example, I see a lot of Authentic Vintage Celine Macadam bags on eBay being sold for $100 and up in Western countries whereas it’s common to see it here being sold for way less than that.
Bear in mind though that prices do fluctuate depending on the availability of supply and popularity of the item. Just a fun fact, Authentic Vintage Celine Macadam bags, and other small items used to be very cheap here in the Philippines.
However, when Lisa of Blackpink (A very famous Korean K-Pop Superstar) was photographed wearing a Vintage Celine Macadam Pochette, then the prices suddenly increased (possibly even quadrupled from what it used to sell for).
To really save money, do make sure to factor in the shipping cost and the taxes and duties that you will have to pay once the item gets to your country.
One of the favorite countries that people buy designer goods from is Japan. A lot of online sellers here in the Philippines buy their inventory straight from Japan.
Some people than I know say that the price is relatively lower than in other places and the shipping cost is also affordable.
Just bear in mind though that Japan is a special market when it comes to designer brands and some brands have diffusion lines and licensing agreements with local Japanese companies to manufacture their goods.
Thus, some items (from Japan) that you might encounter may/may not have Made in Japan tags and may/may not have a different level of quality as well.
If you’re very good at self-authenticating and if you’re from the West, I highly suggest that you also explore the possibility of buying vintage and preloved designer goods from Southeast Asia as there seems to be a healthy supply of preloved designer goods circulating in this region.
Start by checking the local buy and sell websites in those countries.
Pro-Tips in Buying Authentic Designer Goods Really Cheap
DIY Restoration Projects
There are many designer bags circulating online that are being sold very cheaply in the second-hand market because of their very bad condition. If the bag restoration service in your country is very affordable or if you know how to restore bags yourself then this is a good opportunity to own a designer item.
Personally, I love doing repaints and color restoration. It’s a bit therapeutic for me and I enjoy it a lot. However, it does take A LOT of TIME and effort that’s why I don’t do it very much.
I will only buy project bags if the restoration needed is a paint retouch and paint recolor of the exterior and only if there’s not much hardware involved.
It’s complicated to repaint a bag that has tons of hardware dangling around. I will also never buy bags that need leather or hardware replacements even if they’re being sold very cheaply.
Because it’s not easy to look for hardware replacements and replacing leather parts is not my cup of tea.
There are many DIY tutorials on Youtube that you can watch to help guide you. If you’re up for a challenge then I highly suggest that you start watching DIY videos on bag repaint.
Look for Alternative Brands
If you’re buying for personal use and if you’re only after buying a high-quality designer item then consider buying less popular brands in your area.
To be honest, as days go by, it’s getting harder and harder to find very cheap authentic vintage and preloved designer goods from big labels such as Chanel, Prada, Bottega Veneta, Celine, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Balenciaga, Dior, and YSL because everyone else is looking for them. Again, it’s a supply and demand thing.
Consider buying other brands less popular in your country. For example, Marni is another label that does create high-quality garments.
Although it’s very popular in the West, it’s a bit less popular here in the Philippines compare to the other big brands. You will still find a handful Marni items being sold cheaply in the second-hand market in the Philippines.
Patience is a Virtue
If you really want a particular designer item but could not afford it yet, I suggest that you save your money first and just continue to follow the online stores available in your country until you find the best deal.
Swap or Sell Your Unwanted Items
If you don’t have the cash to purchase an item but you have a lot of unused stuff lying around in your house then consider posting them online and ask sellers if you could swap your items for theirs.
I have done this successfully once. I have swapped my Vintage Dior Necklace to a Jean-Paul Gaultier Vintage Long Wallet. I still do contact other sellers if they want to swap their items with mine but I have yet to receive any positive response yet.
If you don’t find success in swapping your items then you might also want to try selling them instead. Sell your unwanted items that have been collecting dust in your closet and use the funds that you generate from the sales to buy the designer item that you have been wanting to have for the longest time.
Designer items especially if they are well taken cared of can be good investments. Almost all of the designer items that I have bought very cheaply in the past have appreciated so much in value including those who are not in great shape.
I have really felt the appreciation in prices mainly because I have bought these items extremely cheap. Even if I factor in the authentication cost, the cleaning cost, and minor restoration cost (for some), I still profited handsomely from them because designer items are highly in demand.
I hope this article helps you in buying authentic preloved designer items really cheap. I will soon write about how I keep these items in great shape.
I am also thinking of getting a project bag soon and document the entire process of color restoration, I might blog about it as well so watch out for it.How to Buy Authentic Designer Goods Really Cheap Click To Tweet
If you have additional tips and suggestions on how to buy designer items really cheap then don’t hesitate to comment below. Thanks!