Every time I go to Walmart, I see women wearing stained sweats, socks with sandals, and carrying a Louis Vuitton tote. Or a Chanel purse. Or Prada…take your pick. At least, that’s what they would have you think – but, if you are one of these people, let me tell you a secret…no one believes your bag is real! The plastic-y, shiny fake leather, the fraying strings, etc. You don’t look high class, you are a poser. And, believe it or not, carrying a fake designer bag makes you look even poorer than carrying a normal Walmart purse…
The real kicker is: designer purses and clothing are not out of reach for the average person. You might not be able to walk into Neiman Marcus or a Louis Vuitton store and swipe your debit card anytime soon, but eBay has become a hot spot for designer goods and handbags priced at 80% or more off of retail! It may take a little patience and work, but we’re going to show you how you can score a Louis Vuitton bag (this applies to anything designer, however) for an amazing deal.
If there are amazing deals for consumers, you can bet your buttons that there is an opportunity to make money for sellers. Buying/Importing luxury goods for resale can be one of the most lucrative markets at the moment if you have the money to invest. So how do you do it? Well, let’s talk about how we buy Louis Vuitton bags from overseas: Japan, in this case.
BUT IS IT AUTHENTIC?
One of the first things we always hear when we tell someone we bought something luxury off of eBay is…”but it’s fake, right?” Contrary to popular belief, it’s not actually allowed to sell counterfeit items on eBay. I once listed a Dooney & Bourke purse without authenticating it first, and received an email from eBay within hours saying that the purse was not authentic and they had removed the listing. That’s not to say that fakes are not out there – eBay is rife with fakes – but if you are smart and buy from reputable buyers, you shouldn’t have a problem.
Believe it or not, one of the best ways to know that you’re getting an authentic bag is to buy from an overseas seller in luxury goods. We routinely buy authentic Louis bags from Japan and have never had a problem with the product or with the service. It is actually illegal in Japan to sell fakes (we know…it happens), and eBay sellers are required to be licensed to sell luxury goods.
While there are dozens of sellers of Louis Vuitton bags on eBay, we look for sellers that sell authentic bags in good condition and typically start auctions at a low price. Most of the sellers we buy from typically start auctions at $.99 and offer free shipping.
That being said, there are a few tips we can give to know whether or not the bag you are looking at is real:
HOW TO TELL IF WHAT YOU’RE GETTING IS THE REAL DEAL:
- Know the style you want.
Authentic bags are almost always listed with a style name. Louis Vuitton does not simply produce hundreds of varied styles every year. Rather, there are styles that have been around, unchanged, for 50+ years. When you become more familiar with Louis Vuitton styles and see an eBay listing for “Louis Vuitton Large Purse,” you will be able to tell with a single glance at the pictures that it is not a style that Louis Vuitton ever made.
Once you have decided on a style and have found a promising listing, look at examples that you know are authentic. For example, if you find a Speedy 30 on eBay, check out Speedy 30 bags on a site such as TheRealReal or even the Louis Vuitton website. What color is the leather supposed to be? Is it supposed to have a monogram on the zipper? etc. Take your time here – the more you compare, the more you know, you want a Louis.
- Look at buyer feedback
When we are looking at a seller that we have not purchased from previously, we make sure to read the feedback they have received. We rarely buy from a buyer who has less than 98% positive feedback on eBay, as it typically indicates that they either sell crappy products or provide crappy customer service. Don’t be scared if the person has hundreds of positive feedback and a few negatives claiming they sell fake bags. One of our favorite sellers routinely gets negative feedback claiming (untruthfully) that they sent a fake bag. These are usually left by bitter customers who were trying to run a scam, didn’t read the listing, and the bag wasn’t in the condition they expected, etc.
OUR EXPERIMENT: LOUIS VUITTON BAG FOR UNDER $100
For this example, we actually were in the market for a small side bag that could be worn to festivals or carried with basic essentials on a daily basis (for Kirstie). A budget of $100 seemed fair to us. If you are serious about wanting a high quality bag, then believe me, $100 is a steal of epic proportions. Unfortunately, everyone else seems to be looking for the same type of bag. It took us a couple weeks of hunting, but the bag we finally won was a Louis Vuitton Danube, a small rectangular bag that fit the bill perfectly. If you are looking simply to resell rather than keep it, style won’t matter so much and there are auctions ending every day that you could win and profit on.Our winning bid? $83.96 with free shipping!
We were happy…but a bit worried as well. Why had the bid ended so low?! We looked at the pictures again but everything seemed fine. There was nothing we could do but pay and wait. It actually took only a week for our bag to arrive from Japan. It was delivered Signature Required by our local post office (luckily I was home at 11:00 in the morning to sign for it…). I was a bit nervous to open it, but this is what we ended up with:
OTHER ITEMS THAT COULD HAVE BEEN OURS/YOURS:
Getting a great deal like this is not a super unusual event. If you’re both quick and persistent, there are many great deals to be found. Here are a few others we bid on!
CLEANING YOUR LOUIS VUITTON
Whether you plan on keeping or selling your Louis Vuitton, it can always benefit from some tender love and care. The leather trim (called Vachetta) tends to gather hand funk and dirt over time – which can build up, change the color, and even damage the leather. The main PVC body of the bag (usually the part with the logo on it) has a slight texture which can also result in it gathering lots of dirt and grime. So of course, you have to clean your bag. The questions is, how to do it? Do it incorrectly and you will end up drastically changing the color of your bag, leaving with a greasy texture, or even rubbing off the logos.
*Do note, I am not an expert. This is what has worked for me. If you follow my directions and ruin your bag, it is not my fault. Follow at your own risk.
Luckily, there is a package which comes with (almost) everything you need to keep your bag pristine. I use Apple Brand Leather Cleaner & Conditioner Kit to maintain both bags that I keep and ones that I sell. Here is the routine that I follow to get results such as these (not mine,from an Amazon review):
- Wipe the outside your bag down with a soft, damp cloth
- Using a very soft cloth (or, as we prefer, these makeup sponges), rub the cleaner over the surface of the bag. You will see the cleaner drawing off the surface dirt onto the sponge.
- If the vachetta has significant water marks or heavy wear, you can use a Magic Eraser to clean it. Just be aware that this removes the top layer of the leather and will probably cause the vachetta to darken a bit when you condition it. Using a small amount of water, rub the vachetta in light, consistent strokes. Remember, slow and steady wins the race here. If you check out the pictures of my bag, you’ll notice that I opted not to use a magic eraser. I liked the color and patina that it had and decided to keep it that way.
- Once your bag is clean to your standard (or as clean as it’s going to get), you’ll want to treat it with a high- quality conditioner. Think of conditioner as lotion for leather; when leather ages it tends to dry out, which, in turn, causes it to lose its pliability and color. Many of the old Louis bags that we see have cracks (especially in the straps) that may have been prevented if their owner would have just kept them healthy and conditioned! Using a clean makeup sponge, rub a thin coat of conditioner on the bag. A little goes a long way here.
- Let the conditioner sit on the bag for a bit so the leather can soak up all it can before wiping the excess off. Hopefully you don’t use enough conditioner that there is much excess to wipe off, but it pays to rub a clean dry cloth over your bag anyway, as excess conditioner can attract dust and dirt.
- Enjoy your beautifully clean, new bag!
….AND SELLING IT.
As it turned out, the Danube wasn’t quite big enough. With a rambunctious toddler (and another little one on the way) the times that I was able to use a bag this small were very few and far between. So what to do? Put it back on eBay of course! Since the bag was now cleaner (and shipping from the U.S., which makes a big difference), I was able to more than double my money on it!
Now it should be pretty obvious that importing designer goods, while lucrative, does not have the same ROI that thrifting does. You might double your money on each item, but you’d be hard pressed to do more than that consistently. However, if you had $1,000 sitting in savings and could start a luxury goods business right now, would you? Because you can!
As a side gig, or even a side gig to your side hustle, importing bags like this one is an easy way to make an extra thousand dollars or more per month. If you are a Poshmark seller, you might even do better than doubling your money with every sale!
MY NEXT DESIGNER HUNT:
Now that the Louis Vuittion tree has been climbed, I’m unsure what to pursue next. What would you like to see? Chanel? Gucci? Burberry? Or….something more amazing? Let me know in the comments!