What Makes An Iconic Designer Bag? 5 Things To Look For!


iconic designer handbags
Hermes Kelly Bag

Looking for the best iconic designer handbag to invest in?

Want to buy a great designer handbag that will be around for years, look fabulous – and still retain it’s value?

While some women get caught up in the trendy bags of the day (thanks in large part to the explosion of social media), more and more women are now viewing their handbags as investment pieces.

These are pieces you can wear for years – and then sell at full or close-to-full value. Or you can pass them down to the next generation and beyond.

While you probably know some great examples of iconic bags like the Lady Dior, Chanel Classic Flap, Hermes Kelly or Birkin, have you ever wondered what exactly MAKES a bag iconic?

And how can you identify the next “iconic” designer handbag?

If so, perhaps you can get ahead of the curve and swoop it up now, only to sell it for a mint later.

For example, did you know that in 2010, according to the website chanelprices.com, the medium Chanel classic flap bag was selling for around $3000 USD?

It’s now selling brand new for about $5000 USD! That’s a 66% return (provided of course that the bag is in top condition).

So what makes a handbag iconic?

Well here, in my opinion, are 5 factors that a bag must have to make in order to make it into the designer bag hall of fame and achieve the “iconic” status. If you know any more, please leave a comment below!


iconic designer bags
Chanel Classic Flap Bag



What Makes An Iconic Designer Bag? 5 Things To Look For:


#1 Long History of At Least 10+ Years

The iconic Hermes Kelly, Hermes Birkin, Chanel Classic Flap, Lady Dior, Gucci Jackie and even the Louis Vuitton Speedy – have all been around for over 10 years – many for over 20 or even 30 years.

That’s a long history. It goes to show that these bags have staying power. They aren’t going to fade into the sunset anytime soon.

The longer a bag has been around, the longer the chances that it will continue to stay around. It has become, in a sense, a bread-and-butter bag of the brand.

So it’s fairly safe to say that the brand won’t be discontinuing it anytime soon – which is great for your investment!



iconic designer bags
Prada Saffiano Lux Tote


#2 Must Be A Staple Line of the Brand

To get on the train to icon status a bag must become a staple line of the brand.

That means they’re produced and sold every year.

This can include different interpretations of the bag, different fabrics, colors etc. In fact it’s actually a good sign when a brand is releasing different iterations of the bag.

Why? Because they’re only likely to do that with a bag they feel is a staple of their line.

It’s not hard to pick out the staples of each brand. Louis Vuitton has a quite few – like the Speedy, Neverfull, Alma and the Noé.

Chanel of course has the Classic Flap, 2.55 and the Boy bag (although the Boy Bag doesn’t have the history of the other two). Prada has the Saffiano Galleria tote line. Fendi has the Baguette. Dior has the Lady Dior etc, etc.

When a bag is a staple, it’s in a stronger position to stay around longer (and keep increasing in value). Which leads to the next factor:


iconic designer bags
Lady Dior Bag



#3 A Consistently Rising Price

Watching a bag consistently rise in price over the years, may be frustrating if you haven’t bought it yet. But it also puts it on the road to iconic status.

The Chanel Classic flap price increases have become legendary (although not exactly popular). And the rise of the Birkin prices to astronomical levels also gets a fair amount of press.

But it might surprise you to note that there are some other popular bags that are slowly creeping up without a lot of fanfare.

For example, my first designer bag was the beloved Louis Vuitton Speedy 30.

My husband bought it for me for $600 Canadian dollars direct from the LV counter in Holt Renfrew in Toronto back in the later 2000’s. It now retails on the official LV website for over $1200 Canadian dollars! Try getting that kind of return from the stock market these days.

Chances are if the bag is popular over time, the prices on them will rise slowly but surely. The brand might also limit the supply.

This helps to keep the bag in high demand and protect the bag’s brand identity (so it’s not seen as cheap or weak compared to other popular bags).


best iconic designer bags
Louis Vuitton Speedy



#4 An Iconic Celebrity Linked With the Bag

Today we all know that many celebrities get paid to wear designer bags at events. Or they might be gifted the bags with the hopes that they will wear them out for free publicity.

Those aren’t the celebrities I’m talking about here.

I’m talking about truly iconic celebrities – and their connection to a bag. This isn’t completely necessary for a bag to become iconic – but it certainly helps.

One example is when Lady Diana was given a Dior bag in 1995 by the then-first Lady of Paris, Bernadette Chirac. The bag then naturally exploded in popularity and was renamed to the “Lady Dior” in Princess Di’s honor.

Another example is the Louis Vuitton Speedy – which really got people’s attention when a special, smaller version was made at the request of Audrey Hepburn on the mid 60’s (the Speedy 25).

And then of course there’s the Hermes Kelly bag named after Grace Kelly who, rumor has it, used the bag to cover her bump in various stages of pregnancy.


iconic designer bags
Hermes Kelly Bag


All of these celebrities give an iconic touch to the bags that they love. It’s like they give a little bit of their star-power-magic to the bag. Even though they’re gone we can be reminded of how much we loved them by remembering their favorite handbags.

That kind of magic doesn’t ebb and flow with trends. It stays around forever.



#5 A Classic Non-Trendy Look

All of these bags we’ve discussed so far also have another thing in common – they all look timeless.

They’re classic without giving in to the trends of the time. That means women can wear them for years – and not look outdated.

Contrast this with a bag like say, the Fendi Spy bag that was popular many years ago and you’ll see what I mean (I love you Fendi Spy bag – but sad to say, you’re NOT iconic). I gave into the trend back then and sadly – I no longer can wear this bag with anything (without dating myself horribly).

So when looking for the next iconic bag – look for classic styles, shapes and designs that will still look chic in the years to come.


iconic designer bags
Louis Vuitton Neverfull


Bonus Trait: #6 Organic Following with Rabid Fans

This isn’t always the case that a bag with an organic, rabidly-lusting fanbase will make a bag great. However it can be a good start.

I give you Exhibit A: The Louis Vuitton Neverfull. Some would argue whether this is truly “Iconic” since it hasn’t been around long enough and, as far as I know, doesn’t really have an iconic celebrity attached to it.

However I think it’s definitely on it’s way there.

It grows more popular every year and shows no signs of stopping. It’s become a staple of the LV lineup.

And women LOVE it. I personally love this bag so much that I have 2 (monogram and daimier azur). Why the love? Because it’s practical as well as pretty. You can fit sooooooo much in this bag – but it’s still lightweight and classy.

Because of these benefits, women the world over have adopted this bag as a top favorite. And that means it probably won’t disappear anytime soon.

iconic dsigner bags
Gucci Soho Disco Bag


Another bag with potential here is the up-and-coming Gucci Soho Disco bag. It’s adorable, lightweight and looks amazing. Women have adopted it the world over and it doesn’t show signs of stopping.

So if you’re looking for the next “iconic” bag you might want to pay attention to the bags that have been building a naturally organic following over the last few years! They might just eventually make it into the designer bag hall of fame!


Iconic Designer Bags Mentioned In This Post – Click For More On Each Bag:


Chanel Classic Flap

Chanel 2.55

Chanel Boy Bag 

Louis Vuitton Speedy 

Louis Vuitton Neverfull

Lady Dior

Prada Saffiano tote (Preloved)

Prada Saffiano Tote (New)

Gucci Soho Disco Bag (Preloved)

Gucci Soho Disco Bag (New)

Hermes Kelly

Hermes Birkin



What Do You Think?

Do you have any other traits that make an iconic designer bag?

Do you have a favorite iconic designer bag? Leave your comments below!

– Kate XO

One thought on “What Makes An Iconic Designer Bag? 5 Things To Look For!

  • June 26, 2019 at 3:13 am

    I guess I’m what you would call a collector. I don’t use designer bags all to often because I use them as an investment. If I feel a bag with increase in value as the years go on, I make the investment and buy a few different mainstream colors. It is actually how I started my business. I was lucky enough to snag a few Birkin bags before the price ballooned up. It is amazing how some bags age like wine and become more expensive as the years go on. One good tip I can give is watch celebrity brand circles. Some celebs only use one or two brands when it comes to bags in a given stretch of 2 to 5 years.


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