Ultimate Guide to Buying Vintage Designer Goods: 7 Points to Consider

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. Here’s a guide to buying vintage designer goods to help you find and purchase the objects of your dreams.

Guide to Buying Vintage Designer Goods

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. 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 feels good to give new life to old objects. The price of pre-owned goods is generally much more reasonable.

Some platforms offering 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.

Tips for buying vintage jewelry
Guide to buying vintage designer goods

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

When buying vintage designer goods, choose items that match your personal style and needs first and foremost. Check the condition of the item, looking out for any broken parts, stains or cracks.

Objects with provenance, i.e. proof of origin, increase the value of antiques. Provenance can include historical records, receipts, photographs and certificates of authenticity.

It’s handy when you’re intending to insure an item and can also be useful in the event of a later resale. Read up on your preferred item, for example if you’re buying a silver piece, it’s wise to research hallmarks.

Tips for buying vintage artworks
Buying vintage art

Buying Vintage Handbags

It’s essential to do your homework when buying preloved designer bags, to make sure that your preferred handbag 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. Genuine Gucci bags and Louis Vuitton bags have a heat stamp inside.

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.

Tips for buying vintage designer handbags
A Chanel vintage handbag

Buying Vintage Jewelry 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 jewelry 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 of luxury watches favour “tool watches”, designed for a specific purpose such as, Rolex‘s Submariner for divers and Panerai’s Radiomir for naval commandos.

Timepieces that hold value over time are also in high demand. For vintage jewelry, store it carefully in a soft pouch and clean with a special cloth.

Tips for buying vintage jewelry and watches
A vintage bracelet

Tips for Buying Vintage Designer Furniture

When it comes to buying vintage designer furniture, it’s important to do your research. Start by reading about well-known furniture designers, and get to know the unique looks and styles that each one has.

Once you have a good sense of the existing landscape, you can use platforms like 1stDibs to check out what pieces are currently available for purchase. Researching prices can give you a better idea as well of what is seen as a fair market price for these kinds of items—so don’t be afraid to inquire before making an offer.

Nothing beats being informed when purchasing vintage designer furniture!

Where to Buy Vintage Goods

  • 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.
  • 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 preloved goods 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 luxury goods from a dealer, insist on a money-back guarantee. Reputable companies will be happy to provide one.

We 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?

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Suze and Paul Renner

Suze and Paul are the founders of LuxuryColumnist, one of the leading luxury online magazines worldwide.

50 thoughts on “Ultimate Guide to Buying Vintage Designer Goods: 7 Points to Consider”

  1. Angie SilverSpoon

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

  2. Suze @LuxuryColumnist

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

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

    Camille xo


    1. Suze @LuxuryColumnist

      I’m very glad that you found it helpful, Camille – have a great day

  4. Amy Ann Arnold

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

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

  5. This is a brilliant post! Really helpful! I would love to get some myself!
    Fix Me In Forty Five – A Beauty & Lifestyle Blog
    Blog Lovin’ // Instagram

    1. Suze @LuxuryColumnist

      I hope that you find something vintage that you love, Stacey! Thanks for stopping by

  6. Ela BellaWorld

    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

    1. Suze @LuxuryColumnist

      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

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


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  8. 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

    1. Suze @LuxuryColumnist

      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 😉

  9. Left Bank Girl

    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!


    1. Suze @LuxuryColumnist

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

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

    1. Suze @LuxuryColumnist

      Me too, I’m picky about the quality but I love hunting out really unique items

  11. Suze @LuxuryColumnist

    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!

  12. 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. :-/

  13. Lux @ About Life and Love

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

    1. Suze @LuxuryColumnist

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

  14. Ayushi | The Foodie Diaries

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

  15. Linda Libra Loca

    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

    1. Suze @LuxuryColumnist

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

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

    Eden | Mint Notion

  17. Cvetina Cekova

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

  18. 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

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


    1. Suze @LuxuryColumnist

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

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

  21. Miriam @londonkitchendiaries

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

  22. Suze @LuxuryColumnist

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

  23. Francesca Gori

    My favourite is the vintage Accesorize

  24. Planes & Champagne

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

  25. 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 https://www.tristancross.com/

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