The Chanel Classic Flap Bag is an icon in its own right. Most fashion lovers feel that their wardrobes aren’t complete without this legendary bag. Acquiring one isn’t easy though and the price is STEEP. Does it command the hefty price tag? Is Chanel justified in their bi-annual price increases? Read on to find out from me – someone who saved for months and finally bought a Chanel Classic Flap Bag. This post will not only detail my experience, but will shed a light on whether or not you should get one too.
The Chanel Classic Flap Bag’s History
The Chanel Classic Flap Bag is perfect in my eyes. It’s classic, timeless styling looks great both dressed up and dressed down. It never goes out of style, and Chanel offers it in a myriad of leathers, fabrics and colours. It is also incredibly functional thanks to its various pockets and compartments.
Coco Chanel created the original bag in 1929 and modelled it after those carried by soldiers. She added a shoulder strap so her hands would be unfettered. The design of the bag was heavily influenced by being raised in an orphanage (the burgundy interior is the same colour as uniforms worn by orphanage caretakers). The chain strap was also modelled after “chatelaines” – metal belts holding keys, thimbles, scissors, etc. also worn by these same caretakers.
Chanel experienced a resurgence in popularity in the 50s and Coco Chanel redesigned the bag. She introduced it to the world in February 1955, and the bag became known as the 2.55 Bag.
In the 80s, Karl Lagerfeld added the CC turnlock and made slight changes to the leather and chain strap. Also in 2005, Chanel stopped offering the Chanel Classic Flap bag with 24kt gold plated hardware. Bags created before this date have a richer, darker gold tone than those made today.
My Chanel Classic Flap Experience
In late November 2020, I achieved a major goal and finally decided to treat myself to my dream bag. This bag isn’t the easiest to buy during normal times. Stock shortages due to the pandemic made finding one near impossible. I called every boutique in Canada and pretty much got stonewalled. Thankfully, I know someone who works at their Canadian head office. She managed to locate one and hold it for me at a Toronto Chanel boutique.
The bag I ended up getting was the large (jumbo) size in caviar leather…the only black Classic Flap left in Canada. I sucked it up and bought it. And let me tell you – I am so glad I did!
First Impressions of the Chanel Classic Flap – Jumbo Size
This bag is big at 11.7″ x 7.6″ x 3.9″. The medium size, I really had my heart set on, but I couldn’t find it in any of the colours I was willing to buy (black, taupe, grey, beige, caramel, white or cream). It was also only slightly more expensive than the medium, so I thought “Why not?”
“Every cloud has a silver lining though” and the jumbo size turned out to be perfect for me. I’m a bit of a pack rat and this size proved to be so functional. I could easily tote around my phone, a portable charger, keys, makeup, notebook, masks, kitchen sink, you name it.
The gold hardware is classic and very easy to style with my wardrobe full of neutral clothing. I also wear mostly gold jewelry, therefore gold hardware made sense for me (I’m not afraid of mixing metals…especially if that metal is platinum or palladium – HA!).
The chain strap is surprisingly comfortable as well. I expected it to dig into my bare shoulders in the summer, but never experienced any discomfort. That being said, I am really careful not to overstuff the bag as I HATE LOSS OF STRUCTURE.
Photo credit (l to r): Birkin Boy, Purse Blog
The many pockets and large main compartment are a godsend. You can comfortably stash receipts, etc. in the long thin pockets, lipsticks and glosses in the columnar pockets and there is even a “patch pocket” on the back of the bag which I use to stash away my huge iPhone 8+ (don’t judge – my iPhone 13 Pro Max is en route).
Caviar Leather vs. Lambskin
I like luxe. I love texture and if I’m buying a handbag that costs the same as a business class flight to London, it better feel great.
Caviar leather, which quite literally looks like caviar, is hardy and durable. This pebbled leather is quite resistant to scratches and can survive a rainstorm (I wouldn’t recommend wearing it in the rain though). It also looks a bit more casual than lambskin.
Lambskin leather is buttery smooth, soft and feels like a dream. It also has a lovely sheen that makes the colourful medium bags really pop! That being said, it scratches easily.
Should You Buy Preloved?
ABSOLUTELY! I bought a new bag because that was my goal. The market is flooded with mint condition Chanel bags of any sort and in some instances, you can save a bundle.
I personally feel that Chanel bags pre-2005 are better quality. They seem to have a stronger, more high quality construction and the gold hardware was actually 24kt gold plated.
The great thing about preloved bags too is that you can find limited edition gems in seasonal colours that are no offered today. My girlfriend found a pale pink Chanel Classic Flap in the medium size with cute little charms hanging off the chain strap! It was part of a Valentine’s Day collection which debuted almost twenty years ago. She purchased it at an estate sale for a mere $700 USD.
When buying preloved, make sure that the bag is authentic. Buy from reputable and trustworthy resellers and/or consignment shops. If you find a funky design or colour, google it to ensure it was from an actual Chanel collection. Look out for bags that have been painted/dyed/refinished. If it is done well, that is fine. Know that refurbished/refinished bags can be harder to sell and will not command as high a resale price.
My Thoughts On Current Price & Price Increases
As mentioned, I bought my bag in November 2020. Rumours were swirling of an eminent price increase and I knew that if I waited any longer, I would get priced out of the market.
The bag cost a whopping $9400 + tax. I felt nauseous when I paid for it. A few short months later though, and the bag is now $10,325. That is a better investment than most commodities.
Personally, I think the 25% increase in some Chanel bags is ridiculous. I understand their “need” to be exclusive and a business of their size needs a lot of money to sustain itself. But at what cost does a beautiful bag and exclusivity lose its “specialness”?
What I do admire (somewhat) about Chanel is that the brand refused government support during pandemic-induced lockdowns.
Back to being sore about price increases – the bags are not even made with real gold anymore though! At least with the Hermès Birkin, the leathers are hand selected, the leather pieces are cut and sewn by hand and the hardware is either gold plated or made of palladium. PALLADIUM! These metals are resistant to tarnishing and scratches and have a depth and richness that regular hardware lacks.
Six years ago, I wrote this post about how desperately I wanted a Chanel bag. I still can’t believe I took the plunge. You know what else I cannot believe? That I just acquired a Chanel 19 bag. That review is coming up.
This bag is a huge expense for most and I would never, ever judge anyone for taking the leap and buying one. The quality alone is lovely and this bag is actually functional. It turns heads, it will last a lifetime and many consider it an heirloom. Go for it and treat yourself.
For me personally, my Chanel Classic Flap Bag is more than just a handbag. It’s an iconic piece of history. It’s a fashion dream. It’s a symbol of hard work, a job well done and makes me smile each and every single time I reach for it. My only regret is that I didn’t buy it while the inimitable Karl Lagerfeld was still alive (that was important to me).
If you want one, get it. The bag is gorgeous and in my eyes, priceless.
What is your dream bag? When are YOU going to get it?