Your Ultimate Guide to Buying Vintage Designer Goods

You probably know the phrase, “they don’t make them like that any more” and in the case of vintage luxury goods, that’s often the case. Craftsmanship and exclusivity are just two of the advantages when buying antique or vintage goods, however it can be hard to sort the wheat from the chaff. So I’ve put together a guide to buying vintage designer goods, in association with Xupes, the pre-owned luxury goods retailer, to help you find and purchase the objects of your dreams.

Xupes was founded in 2009 and has over 7,000 items in stock, specializing in antiques, luxury watches, jewellery and handbags. They can source products on your behalf or sell your items on commission or part exchange. They also have some handy services, such as handbag and jewellery servicing, as well as an in-house watchmaker who offers repairs and servicing.

guide-buying-vintage-designerWhy should you consider buying vintage designer goods?

Before our throw-away society, goods were made to last – the concept of built-in obsolescence, where products are deliberately designed with a limited shelf-life, just didn’t exist. Another advantage is of owning an item as unique as you are, since goods used to be produced in much smaller quantities than nowadays. Of course there’s also the environmental aspect of recycling, it certainly makes me feel good to give new life to old objects. The price of pre-owned goods is generally much more reasonable, for example Xupes offers up to 70% off the recommended retail price so you’re sure of getting a bargain. Perhaps the biggest advantage of buying vintage though, is the history associated with each object. Pre-owned is most definitely pre-loved and it’s nice to give these items a new lease of life.

What’s the difference between antique and vintage?

Items that are over 100 years old are generally considered to be antiques, in both the U.K. and the U.S. Interestingly, U.S. Customs consider that for an item to be classed as antique, it must be less than 50% restored and have kept its original character. Nevertheless, more recent items may be equally prized, and these days objects from as recently as the 1980s can be considered vintage.

Buying a vintage investment

Antiques and vintage goods can be a great investment, although they may have their ups and downs. It’s important to fully research beforehand and to only buy what you actually like. You might wish to concentrate on a particular brand or decade, building up your expertise over time. At any rate, it’s important to find a trustworthy dealer and to invest in quality items. If these have a use of some sort in addition to decorative appeal, then they’re generally a good bet. Make sure to comparison shop online and in store, checking the price of an identical or similar item so that you know that you’re getting the best possible deal.

Buying antiques and art

Buying vintage handbags

It’s essential to do your homework, to make sure that your preferred bag is not a reproduction. The lining should look authentic and generally, a logo will be either embossed or stamped inside the bag. For example, Chanel bags have an authenticity card and hologram sticker, whilst Hermes has an “H” authenticity stamp. Zippers should be of good quality and all stitching should be straight. If in any doubt, make sure to ask the seller for further information.

Buying vintage jewellery and watches

Similarly to handbags, it’s important to fully research your intended purchase when buying vintage designer goods. Check whether any parts of the watch or jewellery have been replaced or whether it’s completely original. For watches, ask whether the watch has been serviced, and if that’s the case, find out why and by whom. If it’s a gold watch, there should be a gold mark, whether a stamp such as 14K, 18K, 375, 585, 750 or a hallmark. There may also be a maker’s mark on the back of the case, the dial or the crown. Look at the condition of the dial as well as the movement, and bear in mind that a slightly aged look is generally preferable to the watch having been “redialled”. Many collectors favour “tool watches”, designed for a specific purpose. For example, Rolex’s Submariner for divers and Panerai’s Radiomir for naval commandos. For vintage jewellery, store it carefully in a soft pouch and clean with a special cloth.

Where to buy vintage

Antique fairs and markets – make sure to take cash, try to get there early to see the items up close and feel free to haggle.
Online – this has the advantage of being convenient, but make sure to pick a website run by a reputable dealer, with a secure payment system, a money-back guarantee and a returns policy. For example, Xupes provides a full guarantee
In store – avoid weekends and try to visit early in the morning. Hold items up to the light and always check the labels. Again, check that there’s a simple returns policy.

How to pay for vintage goods

If you’re buying from a private individual, use a third party payment site such as PayPal. If you must pay by credit card, make sure that it has 100% fraud protection and avoid paying by bank transfer, debit card or money order. Ask to meet the seller face to face if at all possible, then check the item before paying. When buying from a dealer, insist on a money-back guarantee. Reputable companies will be happy to provide one.

I hope that you’ve found these tips on buying vintage designer goods helpful.
Are you a fan of pre-owned luxury goods and what would be your dream vintage purchase?


  • I’ve never bought anything vintage but I can see how it could be a great investment.

  • I’m all about vintage designer (and I should know, I used to own a vintage boutique!) – my favourite pieces are my vintage CHANEL bags and also this gorgeous Valentino suit that I yet have a ‘business-y’ occasion to wear to. There’s that feeling of having something less common, the smug environmental credentials, and also this sassy reply to eco-terrorists telling me I should recycle: “Of course I recycle darling, I’m wearing vintage Yves Saint Laurent right now!” x

    Posh, Broke, & Bored

    • That’s so true, you’re recycling every time you wear vintage! I agree that Chanel and Valentino never date

  • Coco Cami

    Great post, thanks for sharing. This was so informative and I hope to buy some vintage designer pieces in the future 🙂

    Camille xo

  • I’ve never bought a designer bag, vintage or otherwise. Great info!

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

  • This is a brilliant post! Really helpful! I would love to get some myself!
    Fix Me In Forty Five – A Beauty & Lifestyle Blog
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    • I hope that you find something vintage that you love, Stacey! Thanks for stopping by

  • What a helpful post, Suze! I am such a picky shopper and so I find myself basking in vintage thrift shops. There’s something about touching and wearing something that’s so limited, exclusive, and one that carries a history with it that appeals to me! A few months ago, I stumbled upon a thrift store that carried vintage pieces from all over the world and I was able to get my hands on two leather pieces, one jacket and the other a shirt (a leather shirt, pretty cool, right!?). My mom scored a vintage Valentino blazer, which is awesome! The tag actually says Valentino Boutique! You know, I often wondered what exactly is the difference between vintage and antique, so I’m glad you addressed that here, thank you! You’ve shared some really helpful tips that I’ll continue to keep in mind when shopping vintage/antique pieces! Thanks so much for sharing and I hope you have a wonderful Monday!



    • Wow, I hope that you feature the leather shirt soon – though I guess it’s a bit hot for it at the moment! Nice that your Mum found a Valentino blazer too, I think their clothes just never go out of fashion and their clothes now will be future classics too!

  • I don’t have any antique or vintage stuff, but I think one of the things I would like to have is a vintage handbag, then store it in a good condition. Also nowadays it is hard to trust people, there’s nothing they can’t do for the sake of money!

    Ela BellaWorld

    • I must say that the vintage handbags are proving very popular on here! I actually think that it’s rarer to find a fake vintage bag as it’s hard to age them so that’s reassuring

  • Paola

    Perfect guide!!! Thanks for sharing!
    Kisses, Paola.


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  • Such a great post, I really enjoyed reading this Suze. The phrase ‘they don’t make them like that anymore’ is so true.

    My old Prada handbag was the perfect size, a nice medium shoulder bag which was portable, not too big, not too small, just right, but managed to fit everything I needed in nicely.

    I find so many designer bags too big and bulky these days, so looking at vintage options appeals for sure for many reasons.

    Think a great time would be a mid-week visit to a reputable store to find some lovely items rather than a weekend (you’re right, visiting a vintage store on a weekend would be too hectic)

    A great guide to buying vintage and thanks for sharing this with us all 🙂

    Laura xo

    • I hope you find something nice to replace your old Prada handbag, they are so well designed! The larger the bag, the more stuff I tend to cram in it so it’s best for me to have a smaller one 😉

  • This is so amazing! I would love to have a vintage bag someday and this is everything I need to know. There are so many things to consider though! Great post! Thank you!

    • Glad you found it informative, and when you start researching actual handbag brands it gets even more specific!

  • Agness

    I’m not a big fan of shopping but it’s good to know step by step how to buy some vintage designer goods! 🙂

  • I do like vintage clothes and accessories, when they are rare and / or quality items!

  • I agree with you that back then stuff are built to last unlike now so buying vintage is a great investment. Just wish I have the pocket for it. :-/

  • I would love a vintage chanel!!

  • Ellie Adams

    This is such a fab post Suze, Chanel is definitely not in my budget and I would’ve had no idea where to go/what to look out for when buying vintage so this is fab!


    • So pleased that you found it helpful, Elle. Have a wonderful weekend and let’s hope the sun makes a reappearance

  • Oh, I love this. Vintage has an appeal incomparable. And Chanel’s design is so classic it never goes out of style.

    • I really like the Chanel style, not only for bags but for makeup too – pure quality!

  • Really enjoyed this post Suze, you are so right when you say they don’t make them like they used too! Gemma x

  • Really interesting and informative post Suze! I’d love to get my hands on a vintage Birkin… xx

  • To be honest I am way too scared to get fake stuff to buy vintage luxury goods. I just know way too little about them.

    Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

    • That’s a good point and I think it’s all the more reason to buy from a reputable dealer.

  • Great guide! When I used to buy purses, I would also choose vintage. I love the style of vintage designer purses.

    Eden | Mint Notion

  • Such a lovely post! Some of these are really great investments. Thanks for sharing and have a nice day!

  • Lucy

    They definitely do not make things to last anymore. I love classic icon pieces from the past bags and pairings being a favourite Lucy x

  • Thanks for these tips. I would love to buy a vintage handbag, but it makes me so nervous!

    • I can see why, but with the right precautions it’s a great investment and style piece!

  • These are great tips! I love vintage handbags! Hope you have a great day.
    – Elise XO

  • Thank you very much for these great tips on buying vintage goods! I’d love to invest in some vintage handbags ♡

  • My favourite is the vintage Accesorize

  • Great tips, I love hunting around the antique markets in London!

  • I love purchasing rare vintage pieces especially handbags – I’m in love with that white Chanel handbag!

  • Tristan Cross

    Fantastic guide, that’s true that everything from fashion accessories to furniture is now made as disposable – we do have consumerism prevailing! Otherwise all those manufacturers would go out of business if they were making goods top quality! Thank you for sharing this amazing guide, Followed! Tristan Cross