The Ultimate Chanel Bags Guide: History, Leathers, Styles

If you are at all interested in fashion or keep up with the fashion industry, Chanel is one of the names you hear the most.

Chanel has a big reputation in the fashion world and is one of the world-renowned designers. If you haven’t heard the name Chanel, you have now.

Whether you see Chanel on the red carpet or invest in a nice Chanel bag, their popularity is evident.

A Brief History of Chanel

Chanel was founded by the famous French designer, Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel.

Chanel did have a ‘typical’ childhood as she was raised in an orphanage by nuns. However, this was a blessing in disguise because it was at this orphanage that she learned how to sew.

Chanel first began as a milliner or a person who sells women’s hats, in a Parisian shop in 1913.

She was inspired by another French milliner and designer, Caroline Reboux. Eventually, her business grew so fast that she began designing clothing, her first big hit being the jersey dress.

Aside from the famous jersey dress, Chanel is most known for her collarless jackets or fitted skirts. In a lot of her designs, Chanel borrowed fashion from the male industry and made it more feminine while still focusing on comfort.

Chanel also made the little black dress popular, an outfit that was meant to be a chic way of mourning after a loved one died. Now, this little black dress is a staple in most people’s closets.

Aside from clothing, Chanel also created and formulated a tremendously successful perfume which was not common at the time.

She named this perfume Chanel No. 5. This one little perfume was the item that launched her career into the position it is in today.

After launching into success with her perfume, Chanel began designing the well-known Chanel bags, the first of which that blew up was the 2.55 Shoulder Bag.

The 2.55 shoulder bag was designed and released in the year 1955. Even though she had designed other bags before this bag, the long strap revolutionized women’s bags.

The idea that a woman’s hands could be freed while still holding their bag was revolutionary.

With pockets to hold makeup, letters, and much more, women were free to go on with their days without the hassle of holding a bag.

Sadly, Chanel died in 1971 in the Hotel Ritz. Nearly a decade after Chanel’s death, a designer by the name of Karl Lagerfeld took over the position of creative director in 1983.

Lagerfeld brought a lot of life and creativity to the brand, expanding its success across continents.

The brand remains popular because though Lagerfeld brought a new perspective to the brand, Chanel stays true to the idea of an independent woman that founded the brand in the first place.


Chanel Leathers, Types, and Durability

Chanel is well-known for its large array of leathers. It can be very easy to get overwhelmed with all of the different options and trying to decide which one is best for you.

Here is a comprehensive list of the different Chanel leathers.

Chanel Lambskin leather

chanel lambskin leather

Lambskin is one of the most popular leathers made by Chanel. To the touch, lambskin is smooth and soft.

One of the most famous Chanel bags made with lambskin is the Chanel flap bags.

Every season offers a new array of Chanel Flap Bag colors. To ensure that the Lambskin leather is soft, the skin gets tanned along with the wool that remains on the skin which adds a smooth layer.

To care for a lambskin bag, use a dry cloth to clean it and keep it away from anything that could create dents in the material.

Pros  Cons
Velvety feel, the softest leather Gets scratches and color transfer easily
Wide array of styles and colors available Expensive (keep in mind you won't wear it every day)
Requires utmost storage

 

Chanel Caviar Leather

chanel caviar leather

While Caviar is not as popular as lambskin, it is a close second. Chanel Caviar leather is known for its geometric design that gives the illusion of a three-dimensional outer layer.

Caviar is actually made from grained calfskin leather that will hold up its puffiness as long as it is wiped with a dry cloth and stored properly.

Pros Cons
Very durable, not prone to scratches Once it's rubbed, it's hard to restore the texture
Eternal Rough and quite heavy

 

Chanel Crinkled/Aged Calfskin Leather

chanel crinkled aged calfskin leather

In contrast to deerskin, calfskin has a very smooth and thin appearance. Though it appears thin, it is actually very strong and durable while still being lightweight in weight.

This type of leather is most often used in the Chanel 2.55 Reissue and Chanel Boy bags. Calfskin is also used to manufacture the caviar leather.

Chanel Deerskin Leather

chanel deerskin leather

Deerskin leather, which is made from deer hide, is much thicker than other Chanel leathers, making it much tougher and durable.

Its appearance is much more pebbled than the others, but there are also some downsides to deerskin. Some people complain that the bags made of deerskin is too heavy, so it is often changed to calfskin instead.

Chanel Patent Leather

chanel patent leather bag

The famous patent leather has a very sleek and shiny appearance. In contrast to the other varieties of Chanel leather, patent leather is not resistant to staining.

It can be cleaned with a cloth, but it is possible to still get stains. This leather is most often used on flap bags, boy bags, or wallets.

Chanel Goatskin Leather

chanel goatskin

Chanel goatskin is by far the most durable and tough of all the Chanel leathers. It can last years and be knocked around quite a bit.

Though it is very tough and durable, it is still very soft to the touch. This leather is most often used on flap bags, boy bags, wallets, and other small designs.

Chanel Alligator Leather

chanel alligator

Chanel alligator leather is the most prestigious and sought-after leather. It is a rare find, especially because Chanel has decided to no longer use exotic leathers such as alligator in the future.

It has always been one of the most iconic leathers Chanel used, so it was still an important mention.

Chanel Python Leather

chanel python leather

Python leather is another variety of leather that Chanel has decided to not work with any longer.

It was one of the finest of all of the Chanel leathers and was known for how well it ages. Even though it will no longer be used, it is still a favorite of a lot of people.

Chanel Galuchat Leather

chanel galuchat leather

What many people don’t know about Galuchat leather, named after artisan Jean-Claude Galluchat, is that it is actually made from shark or stingray skin.

It has a very bubbly texture, giving it the allusion of a rhinestone design. It is not a very common type of Chanel leather, but it is a very durable one.

Most Popular Chanel Bags of all Time

Chanel bags have come in many shapes and sizes over the years, but there are some that reign supreme in popularity over others.

With world-renowned bags such as the boy bag or flap bag, Chanel has made its mark on the fashion industry. Some of the most popular Chanel bags include:

1. Chanel Classic Flap

chanel classic flap bag

The Chanel Classic Flap Bag was first created in 1955 and has been one of the most popular bag types since then.

The Chanel Flap Bag is known for its front flap and variety of sizes, colors, and designs. The sizing options for the flap bag include the Extra Mini, the Mini Rectangular, the Mini Square, the Small, the Medium, the Jumbo, or the Maxi.

No matter what size you choose, you are bound to look fabulous.

2. Chanel Boy Bag

chanel boy bag

The Chanel Boy Bag is a relatively new design that was released in 2011. The name ‘boy bag’ comes from Chanel’s lover, Arthur Capel, whose nickname was 'boy'.

The Chanel Boy Bag is a very chic, minimalist design that comes in different sizes, colors, and styles. It even comes in a new, elongated style that is very classy.

3. Chanel Reissue Bag

chanel silver reissue

The Chanel Classic Flap Bag was reinvented and redesigned to the newer version.

This newer version is often referred to as ‘The Reissue” Bag because it is a newer version of the original bag. This bag comes with a CC lock-style rather than a rectangular version.

4. Chanel ‘WOC’

chanel woc wallet on chain

The WOC, or the Chanel Wallet on Chain, is the most versatile and portable of the Chanel bags. It can be found at a lower price point than some of the other bags as well as a variety of styles, colors, and finishes.

You can carry the WOC either as a crossbody bag, a clutch a wallet, a messenger bag, or a shoulder bag thus making it the most versatile Chanel bag.

5. Chanel Mini Bag

chanel mini bag

Chanel Mini Bags are one of the most popular of the Chanel bags, but they are also very difficult to get.

The Minis have the classic flap look but are far cheaper. For them being so small, they actually carry a surprising number of items in them.

However, they are not always available for purchase because they are considered seasonal bags in the ‘Classic Flap’ line.

 

Where to Get the Best Chanel Prices

Investing in designer bags can be expensive, but the process varies everywhere.

You would be led to believe that the prices for designer bags are the same across the world, but due to the currency conversion rate, it doesn’t always transfer over the same.

If you are wanting to pay more for your bags, which isn’t what people often want to do, the United States is the place to go.

However, if you are like everyone else and want your bags at a discounted price, most places in Europe, especially the United Kingdom, are significantly lower in pricing.

While companies are trying to make the pricing the same across the board, at the moment, it is much less in European countries.

As you can see in the chart above, though the currencies are not the same, the pricing is significantly lower in the United Kingdom in comparison to the United States.

 

Why Are Chanel Bags so Expensive?

After looking at all of the Chanel pricing and different types of leather, the real question that comes up is ‘Why are these bags so expensive?’

You save up so much money to buy a Chanel bag, but what are you truly investing in? What makes a Chanel bag so expensive?

Here are the contributing factors to the high price tag:

  • High-Quality Leather: As was discussed earlier in this article, Chanel bags are made of high-quality leathers. These leathers are made to be very durable and soft to the touch while still having the famous Chanel look. The manufacturing, processing, and stretching of the leather makes for a very expensive result.
  • Golden Accents: Chanel is known for adding little golden touches to their bags, whether it be through the chain or the buckle or both. In fact, all of the hardware found on a gold-toned Chanel bag is 22-24 karat gold. This isn’t just hollow gold, this is pure, solid gold, and if you ever held one of the famous Chanel bags, you would feel the weight.
  • Smooth Interior: Chanel bags are not only known for their smooth and stylish leather exteriors but are also known for their burgundy leather interiors. These burgundy interiors were designed to mimic the robe colors of Chanel’s caretakers as well as making it a contrast color so that your keys can easily be found.
  • Prestige: Because Chanel has waitlists and a big name behind them, owning a Chanel bag gives you a lot of fashion points. There is prestige attached to the Chanel bag at your hip, giving it a reason to be so pricey.

Buying New vs. Pre-Owned: The Pros and Cons

When you are saving up money to invest in a Chanel bag, you may come into the conflict of whether or not you should invest in a brand-new Chanel bag or a pre-owned Chanel bag.

This can become a big conflict because it may save you money to buy pre-owned, but you may also miss out on the feeling of buying a brand-new bag of your own.

Pros of Buying New

  • Freedom of Choice: With a new bag, you get a variety of choices from all that Chanel has to offer. You aren't limited to what the used store has in stock at the moment but instead, have the opportunity to purchase a bag you really love.
  • That ‘New Bag’ Feeling: You know that feeling you get when you buy a brand-new dress? That is the feeling that we are talking about. When you buy a brand-new Chanel bag, you get that warm feeling of having something that is yours from the start.
  • Longer Life: Buying a used Chanel bag comes with the risk of it not lasting as long since it may already be a few years old. With a brand-new bag, you can take care of it and ensure that it lasts you a lifetime.

Cons of Buying New

  • More Expensive: The most obvious con of buying a brand-new bag rather than a preowned bag is the price tag. The price of a new bag may be significantly higher than a pre-owned bag, so you just have to weigh out whether or not the bag is worth the investment or not.

Pros of Buying Pre-Owned

  • Save Money: By choosing to buy your luxury bags from a secondhand store, you can save a lot of money. There is still a wide variety of options at secondhand stores and you can snag a Chanel bag at a very affordable price.
  • A Chanel is a Chanel: No matter where you buy it, a Chanel bag is still a Chanel bag. Whether you buy it from a boutique, or you buy it secondhand, you still own a Chanel bag. Either way, it is a big investment that you should be proud of.

Cons of Buying Pre-Owned

  • Boutique Experience: The main thing that you miss out on when you buy secondhand is the experience of walking into a boutique and trying on different Chanel bags to find your perfect fit. Instead, you either purchase it online or happen to find one in a consignment store.
  • Older Styles: With a secondhand bag, you are likely investing in an older style of a Chanel bag. While these are still luxury and beautiful, they won't be as up to date with the current styles and designs.

How to Make Sure Your Chanel is the Real Deal

If you buy your Chanel bag secondhand, you want to ensure that it is not a dupe or a fake bag. Many people produce fake Chanel bags to make money since they are so expensive, so you don't want to fall into that trap. Before you spend your money on a Chanel bag, make sure you take these steps to authenticate that the bag is legitimate.

1. Look Closely at the Leather: The most common leather found on Chanel bags is lambskin which is very soft to the touch. You can tell by looking closely at the leather if it is high-quality or not. If your bag is Caviar, the second most common leather for Chanel, you should feel a pebbled texture on the outside of the bag.

2. Study the Quilting: Chanel is known for its quilted pattern on their bags. This very distinct quilted pattern is a good indicator of whether a Chanel is genuine or not, especially if the lines do not line up on the back pocket of the bag.

3. Count the Stitching: This may sound like an odd and very tedious step to take, but it can be a very crucial step in distinguishing the legitimateness of a Chanel bag. A genuine Chanel will have up to eleven stitches in each panel while a fake will normally have less.

4. Look at the CC Lock: One of the most well-known signifiers of a Chanel bag is the CC lock. The CC lock will have minute details such as the C's overlapping one-another in a 3D manner. These are normally made of real gold, 24K to be exact, so you can get this verified.

5. Check the Lock: On genuine Chanel bags, the back of the lock will have ‘Chanel Paris’ stamped onto it. A front stamp isn’t featured on every bag, so if you don’t have one, it may not mean your bag is fake. However, if you turn it over and look at the back of the lock, every Chanel bag will have a stamp there. They only use flat screws to secure the lock and have a very specific font.

6. Verify the Branding: With the brand stamp, verify that the font and the quality of the stamp are correct. Many fakes will have the stamp on the surface of the leather rather than embossed into it and will have a much thinner font. This branding should sit at around one and a half centimeters below the C that is quilted. The width of the logo should be around 3.3cm with 0.9cm between each letter.

7. Authenticity Cards: This can be a good indicator, though not all authenticity cards are to be trusted. A way in which to tell if the card is real or not is to add up how many numbers are in the code. If the bag was made between the years 1984 and 1986, the number will have six digits while if it was made between 1986 and 2004, it will have seven digits. If it was made from 2005 to now, it will have eight digits.

8. Authenticate the Chain Straps: Chanel’s are known for their chain straps. While vintage Chanel bags weren’t made with the leather threaded through the chain, fakes will almost always have the leather. Modern Chanel bags have leather that is folded onto itself and threaded through the links. The little details matter.

9. Study the Shape: Fake bags will often be made poorly and will be much boxier than the genuine bags. Another indicator is genuine bags have more square corners while fake bags have more rounded corners due to poor construction.

10. Check all of the Zippers: Chanel bags feature a wide variety of sippers: the lamp (which always uses metal teeth), the EP (which has a pull tab made of leather), the three C’s in the circle zipper, and the OPTI DMC zipper. Some other smaller zippers include the eclair, the DMC, the YKK, and the no mark zipper.

 

Which Chanel Bag Should You Buy First?

This is one decision that is completely up to you and what you want. Since it is such a big investment, it is important that you choose a bag you truly love. Scroll through the options, weigh out the pros and cons of each style, and decide what best suits your needs and wants.

If you are wanting to start small and versatile with a smaller price tag, go with the Wallet on Chain style. If you are wanting a very classic Chanel look, choose the Chanel Flap Bag. If you are looking for a bigger bag, choose the size of Maxi or Jumbo in whatever style you choose.

There are so many styles, colors, and prices to choose from, so it is important that you make the right decision that you won’t regret later. Chanel is an investment that you want to take seriously.

Is Buying Chanel Worth it?

With the high price tags, it can be easy to think, ‘Is it really worth it to spend this much on a purse?’ After all, you can head down to the mall and find a nice purse for $50 or less, so is spending almost a grand worth it?

The answer to this question is up to you to decide, but coming from someone who loves fashion, a Chanel bag is an investment that you won't regret. With quality that will last a lifetime and timeless styles, you are bound to carry your Chanel proudly on your shoulder for years to come.

However, taking into consideration the price tag, this investment may not be worth it for some people. It is definitely something that you would indulge in and treat yourself with, but it is a big decision that is up to you and your wallet to make.

 

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