Could Chanel bag be the next exclusive luxury piece? by Valeria Boi

Chanel shook the fashion industry, announcing that the some of its most iconic handbags' prices would raise once again.
Yet, the gradual price increase of Chanel bags is not a stand-alone phenomenon. Luxury prices have been skyrocketing for decades, at over twice the rate of inflation. In a typical year, luxury brands like Chanel are expected to raise prices at least once or twice, largely in accordance with factors like material and labor costs. 

When we think of a true classic fashion piece, timeless and with an emotional value, celebrated in movies and worn by the biggest celebrities, the first thought goes to Hermès bags. So expensive and famous for their waiting list, Hermès bags are still considered the most iconic pieces desired by many people. But there is a luxury brand who is trying to compete with it, Chanel. The French maison started to boost the price of its bags and behind this decision there is a specific reason.


According Jefferies Group, the American multinational investment bank and financial services company, since November 2019 the price of Chanel’s small classic flap bag in the U.S. has increased by 60% to $8,200, and now the large version of the handbag known as the 2.55 costs $9,500.


Photo: Courtesy of Chanel


In addition to this, the French brand is decreasing the number of available bags a customer can purchase, limiting the purchase of one bag at a time and waiting two months to buy another one with a different style. Having a limited number of bags available pushes customers to desire it, because they want to belong to a privileged group of people who own it.

 Increasing the prices and decreasing the number of the items is a strategy: take control of the brand and compete with other high-end brands. Chanel wants to be considered at the same level of Hermès, wanting their iconic flap bag to become as exclusive as Birkin and Kelly bags, aiming to belong to a niche market and drive demand to maintain exclusivity.The focus is to increase the value of the brand: awareness, quality, uniqueness, trying to make every bag a rare piece that everyone desires and perceives as unattainable. This increases the value and the price of that bag, it’s the theory of the scarcity value: things that are scarce are more valuable and can be sold at higher price.


Chanel S/S 2019 Photo: Courtesy of Vogue Runway


Some customers are happy by this and they are willing to wait to own one of these bags, while others are annoyed. For these customers, the alternative is trying to buy it in a department store instead of the boutique or  buy pre-loved, not giving up  on having the desired flap bag.

Chanel is doing efforts to reach the reputation of Hermès, but they have some differences. It can be said that Chanel bag, compared to Hermès, is tied to the personal experience of its founder. Chanel flap bag was created in 1955 by Coco Chanel thinking about the comfort in wearing it, having the idea to add a chain shoulder strap, allowing to wear the bag keeping the hands free, something absolutely new in fashion before 1950. Recognisable for the quilted leather, the burgundy interior reminds the shade of the uniform Madame Coco wore during her childhood in the orphanage.

 The iconic Hermès bag, which keep the name of his founder Thierry Hermès, comes to life in 1981 from the meeting between its chairman Jean-Louis Dumas and the actress Jane Birkin (the namesake of the bag) who complained about the limited capacity of the bags to carry belongings, and Dumas had the idea to create something practical and fashionable at the same time. While through the years Chanel added changes to its bags (e.g. when it was redesigned in 1983 by Karl Lagerfeld who changed the lock with the CC lock logo) using different fabrics attracting young clients, Hermès never changed its style but it’s famous for the fine leather quality.


Photo: Courtesy of Chanel

 We have just to wait and see what consumers are willing to do, if choose once again the legendary Birkin bag with its un questioned status for decades, or decide to look at Chanel as the new symbol that is looking to the future.


Valeria Boi, London