The Chanel Classic Flap - Past, Present, Future
People often ask me, "Which Chanel bag moves the most quickly in your inventory? Is it exclusive seasonal designs that have been discontinued, or subtle and plain vintage ones for more practical purposes?"
To this question, I always only have one answer - Yes, while women are often spoilt for choice when they meet up with us for viewing sessions, their eyes tend to gravitate to one particular Chanel model that has stood the test of time and change of seasons. This is especially so for ladies who are still contemplating their first Chanel bag and are wary about making a decision they don't wish to regret.
Needless to say: THIS, ladies, is the hottest seller in my years of selling vintage Chanel bags. It seems to be THE bag that women hardly resell. THE bag that becomes their perfect accompaniment to gala dinners and date nights. THE bag that, no matter how regularly or occasionally used, is the one design women are incredibly proud of in their collection.
History of the Chanel Classic Flap
1. Often confused with the Chanel 2.55 flap. FYI, the 2.55 bag refers to the one produced in the 1950s that comes with the rectangular mademoiselle lock: a direct symbolism of Coco Chanel not being married (see pic below). The 2.55 flap and the classic flap are thus 2 very different bags, though they are both considered the staples of the brand.
2. Surfaced in the mid-late 1980s, with the interlocking CC logo designed by Karl Lagerfield, for Chanel herself. The CC logo has continued to be a trademark of the brand, appearing in literally 90% of Chanel's bags.
3. One of the first few Chanel bags to be seen with the leather + gold chain. Again, this is often believed to have surfaced in the 1950s, but actually only appeared in the 80s. The chain used in the 2.55 bag in the 50s was the one without the leather trail (see pic below).
4. Trademark burgundy lining - while the later classic flaps (esp those in caviar) started to have black interior linings, the red lining remains a prominent and attractive feature of the Classic Flap. Historically, the burgundy colour was used as a tribute to orphans. It was literally the colour of the uniforms that Coco Chanel and the other children at the convent orphanage wore!
5. Trademark zipper compartment beneath the exterior flap - this is a special yet controversial feature. Some ladies have commented that this compartment serves no real purpose and is, in fact, a hostile facet of the bag due to the zipper causing repeated press marks and indents on the surface of the interior flap. A glimpse into the past reveals, however, that this compartment was actually a secret one meant for Coco Chanel to store her low-key love letters to boys! How adorable, right?! Again, several critics have asserted that this "fun fact" was in reality a gimmick meant to give the classic flap greater hype. Can people get anymore negative? :( If you were to ask us, of course, we'd rather they alter the design because this zip is rather impractical right now and really causes an obvious blemish on the interior surface.
Price Appreciation of the Chanel Classic Flap
It is widely known that the classic flap has continued to appreciate wildly over the last few decades. Attached below is a diagram from BagHunter, depicting the price increase. I believe the website has chosen to categorise the double flap design and 2.55 together: hence the chart begins from the year 1955, when the 2.55 flap was produced. While I have asserted that the 2.55 and classic flaps should be seen as two separate entities, we can use them interchangeably here (only when looking at price point) as their prices have remained very similar throughout the years.
Evidently, prices have escalated exponentially (the most) from 2010 onwards, reaching almost USD5000 (~SGD6800) in 2016. Early this year, during a visit to the SG boutique, I was surprised to learn that it had once again appreciated to SGD7430.
It is little wonder, then, that experts have compared this seemingly tempestuous price adjustment to movements in the stock market, exclaiming that the Chanel classic flap could indeed, be a safer and more reliable "investment" than even bluechip stocks! Of course, stock market enthusiasts may find this claim absurd and even laughable, but in reality, we know for a fact that the price tags don't lie - modifications to price point have been regular and vast, almost becoming predictable and natural.
Fun Fact: The classic flap sold for about USD1500/SGD2000 in the mid-late 90s, and while those produced in that era are now considered vintage bags, they are valued at about SGD3000 and above on the resale market. Basically, this is tantamount to saying that ladies who have kept their 90s' classics well and with tender loving care can now reap a crazy 50% profit from their initial "investment". Wow?! FYI, some classics that I have sold were literally bought by the next buyer at SGD3800 - especially those in pristine, flawless condition. Women still find such a cost much more pocket-friendly than the current price in the boutiques.
On this note, sceptics have questioned the notion of purchasing a vintage classic - in other words, "why buy a preloved piece when you can get a brand new one at just twice the price?"
Our response is simple yet adequate for many ladies: a whopping discrepancy between the vintage and contemporary classic flap is the plating of the gold hardware. Vintage models make use of 24k gold plated hardware in the chains and CC logo, while the new generation ones embody only 16k. While some may find the lighter and more subtle shade of gold in today's classics more palatable, we have first-handedly witnessed owners of new generation classics coming to us to get a piece of the vintage pie. Ultimately, they are not bothered that they are spending on the same design; rather, what they desire is the thicker, richer, yellow colour present in vintage plating that gives a good contrast to their outfits. To them (and to us, of course, even in our most objective state), this is no longer a question of affordability or price - it is the make, material, workmanship, and individual components in vintage pieces that they hanker after.
The Future - Further Appreciation in Price?
Price appreciation of the medium Chanel classic flap was noted again this year (2018). See table below:
Chanel's constantly increasing price point is largely attributed to controlled and regulated supply of bags, long-established history and tradition, and well regarded association with high fashion. One ground-breaking principle that explains why the classic flap has held its value so well is simply the minimalistic and formal appearance and features of the bag, rendering it timeless and evergreen regardless of whichever era one is in.
As Coco Chanel best puts it:
Till the next post!