Chanel Medium Classic Flap Bag

Pricing data from the mid-2000s can be hard to come by for any handbag; it’s not the kind of information that brands or stores keep in public archives, and PurseBlog itself was only just getting its start cataloging those sorts of things back in the mid-aughts. When the bags in question have never been sold online at all, the search for data only becomes more difficult, and that makes it all the harder to track the at-times-exorbitant price increases that those bags have received over the past decade. Racked did the dirty work of finding out how much Chanel’s prices have changed, and the result was surprising even to me.

Racked’s Casey Lewis tracked prices for Chanel’s Medium Classic Flap Bag from 2005 to now, and she found that, in 2005, one of the bags could be had for $1,650. Although that’s still an objectively high price for something like a handbag, it now seems impossibly low, considering both the current prices of similar bags from other brands and Chanel’s position in the top price tier for luxury accessories.

The same bag in lambskin now goes for $4,900, according to both Lewis’ research and Chanel’s website, despite the fact that astonishingly few things have changed about this bag since its introduction decades ago. Racked’s experts attribute that to the necessity of keeping the bag exclusive; instead of attracting young customers directly to its marquee accessories, Chanel has chosen to introduce other products at a sub-$1,000 price, like expanded lines of sunglasses and costume jewelry, to capture the next generation of aficionados without making its bags unappealingly ubiquitous.

Based on how Louis Vuitton has suffered of late because of its inescapable (and, arguably, devalued) logo, such attempts are indeed necessary to keep an accessories business healthy, but Chanel bags are not exactly a rare sight, in spite of their high price tags. That is, of course, the central paradox of luxury handbags–selling enough of them to keep the business afloat and please investors while still ensuring that every buyer feels like she’s getting something special and unique.

Chanel doesn’t wholesale to third-party stores or sell its bags anywhere online, so without reducing its production, Chanel is doing just about all it can to funnel its bags toward its ideal customers. Only time will tell how long the strategy can be effective and how many more price increases the market can support for an essentially unchanged product.

  • Fiona-Brasil

    From the Spring-Summer 2014 to the Paris-Dallas 2013/2014 Métiers d’Art , the bags simply doubled the price.They are not worth it.The bags are not pretty, not rare (you can by them by dozen), I for one am getting a little sick of Chanel.

  • Julia

    In Paris right now. Have seen quite a few genuine Chanel handbags and the majority are worn by young Asian background females. I have three but all vintage.

  • Tiffany H

    As much as I love Chanel, I just can’t keep paying those prices. I was lucky enough to get a vintage classic flap for a fraction of the current retail price and treated myself to a GST before the price increase. If I buy anymore Chanel pieces, it will be on the second hand market.

  • Mandi

    I wil personally never buy an authentic Chanel again because I paid over $3,000 including tax for a GST….at the end of the day…it is a just leather tote! The quality does not impress me, the hardware is not gold plated anymore, it scratches easily & the GST will lose it’s shape & become slouchy overtime. :-( I could have taken my family on 2 vacations for the cost of that 1 bag…I do love it but I feel guilty. The prices of these material things from these brands in general are so ostentatious, absurd, ridiculous greedy, disgusting & downright TACKY. Keep in mind most celebs get their bags for free just because of their name, or BORROW these items from professional stylists who borrow them from the stores for events. Their are rich people & celebs who buy & have been photographed with replicas….also take into account the story of the Houston socialite who recently had her “she-cave” (record breaking 3 story closet) robbed & the burglar reported to the media the luxury brand bags, shoes & jewelry were NOT AUTHENTIC! Fashion is about looks, if people can the looks & YES…similar quality for less….they WILL!!! Even the rich would rather keep their thousands in their pockets.

    • Mandi

      Oh & let’s not forget Taylor from RHWBH admitted her Birkins were fake! That other one from OC (I forget her name)…admitted to a fake diamond wedding ring so makes me think about her handbag collection…..hmmmmm.

      • b

        Alexa from Real House wives of Miami admitted her BE birkin was a fake as well. Clint Eastwood’s daughter Francesca carries fake Birkins as well.

    • Anna

      i cannot agree more

    • Mngo

      The socialite’s bags were all reps? Was it reported , or rather, how do we know that the bags were reps?

      • k

        There were articles on it.

      • Mngo

        That is interesting. Love to read about it :)

  • pinkmel

    chanel bags are fabulous but the fact is you can get a replica real leather version in the middle east for about £100 which when compared with the real thing there is virtually no difference…making the brand accesible to all….

  • Mandi

    Real everday women (not just the famous & rich) ARE real fashion. Fashion should be accessible to everyone. & if they wouldn’t be greedy & charge a mortgage payment for a single item as menial as a pocketbook then their would be no need for replica. Coco would probably be rolling in her grave to see what a greedy, mass production corporation her once small business has become.

    • Hierophilic

      TRUE. Karl Lagerfeld is a damn joke as well as being a blatant misogynist, sorry excuse for a human being.

  • B

    If they keep going like this they will be as much as a birkin and then forget it.

  • ami

    Bought mine in December 2007 for $2450. From 2005 to 2007 it went up by 50%! A brand new bag for $4900 is simply out of reach for me now. I better hold on to my vintage 2001 chanel bag that I bought from a 2nd hand shop in Paris.

    • Mngo

      Vintages are better made with better workmanship.

  • Gia

    Love love love Chanel.
    GST, Duo bag and tote, and flap are in my collection of bags.
    Handmade, detailed luxury, beautiful to view, hold, and love!

  • •.??HARDCORE??.•

    Chanel’s prices are absolutely ridiculous. I can almost justify it for specialty bags & rare or exotic ones, But for classic flaps & gst & pst’s no. At the end of the day they are just leather bags they aren’t croc or ostrich. Any experienced collector will tell you the bags pre 2000′s are the best ones. As others have said there are perfectly good replicas that rival the real one’s for more than half the price. Hell you can get 3 mirror image croc Birkins made by retired Hermes craftsmen for the price of one flap. At some point the price isn’t worth it.

    • Jack Neill

      Where where? Please share. That would be amazing.

  • $$$$$

    Wow! $4900 for a medium classic flap bag!!?? I bought my very first one in 1985 for $350 or $375! I took very good care of all my shoes, bags and other accessories. After not having used the Chanel flap bag for several months, I decided to take it out of the dust cloth cover and to my surprise, the red inside leather lining got all sticky while the exterior was in perfect condition! I took it back to the Chanel store on a Rodeo Drive. They told me it was worth $650 and I could either get a new one or a credit. I used the credit to buy a different one, a medium shoulder bag, I couldn’t remember the style. the black leather faded so quickly and to get it refurbished would cost so much money. It should have been free but I decided to give it away. A year or so ago, I saw the same exact style at a resale online store selling for $2500! I love Chanel but I don’t buy them anymore as the prices including other brands are just getting so ridiculously high! And yes I’ve seen replicas and honestly there aren’t that much difference…except for the prices! BTW, there’s a boutique near my neighborhood where high quality replicas of every brand you can imagine are being sold and most of her clients are celebrities and famous people in the movie industry!

    • K

      What boutique is that?

    • Julie

      That red sticky stuff happened in my bag which I bought in NYC in the 80′s.I brought it to the NYC Chanel store and I was told that there was a defect in a certain number of bags of that era, and they replaced the lining for free. That was about 8 years ago

  • Jen

    Does anyone have any idea of their justification of such an outlandish price point? Is it just greed? Makes me sad to think so.

    • Maya

      As long as people will keep buying them, the prices won’t stop going up…

      • PJGambler

        Exactly–it’s the economic theory we learned in school, supply & demand-am sure rising costs of materials and wage rates have had an impact, but 300+% increase is a bit much.

      • Maya

        At this point it has nothing to do with rising cost of material and wages but more so about milking the cows…that would be us :) Just like the classic flap, I have bought bag which have gone up in prices from one year to another for no apparent reason…

  • PJGambler

    Yep, I started buying them in the late 90′s– bought a Classic lamb skin flap at the Chanel boutique in San Fran for $1295 and a black caviar tote for $1650 a about a dozen years ago (still have the tags)-the flat shoes used to cost $360 and are now $695-same exact pair. I would not spend the dough on today’s prices for the bags, but still buy the shoes as other shoe brands have risen proportionately. Sometimes the Chanel boutique and Neiman Marcus puts some Chanel bags, shoes and wallets on sale, but they are never the classic style. When you are outside major cities, no one really carries Chanel, but you see a lot of Coach and Dooney & Bourke (which are quite durable). So one day I carry a $200 D&B and depending on where I’m going, a Chanel–get a lot of compliments on the D&B’s!!!

  • Anavel

    I will not buy classic flap any more. The price I paid for my medium classic flap was $2200 in 2007 and now only can get a wallet on chain. It’s ridiculous!

  • Maya

    I absolutely love this bag but I think overall the fashion industry is on crack with the prices, you could get a great bag for 1,5k a few years back, it’s getting harder and harder nowadays… I’m really starting to question whether to buy or not, which I never did in the past but it has reached a point where the prices are just not justifiable anymore…

  • Rashida

    Too rich for my blood!

  • mermaid

    I wonder why this is so with Chanel. I have seen a lot of other designer bags drop off significantly in price after say 4-5 years or release. I saw some a Gucci crocodile bamboo from a few years ago on Malleries for about $5000 only, when the original retail was like $ 30,000 or so!!

  • Halim Amin

    Good then the Chanel Prices can go down. I will and still love the Chanel bags I own and am looking forward to acquiring more.The bags becoming slouchy…..hmm not in my case maybe it is just storage issues. They are beautiful bags and elegant bags. Anbody who owns them can attest and no fake can even come close.

  • Katie

    Spare a thought for us in Australia, the price of a maxi is now $8000.00 US. It is ridiculous. I love the bags, but the quality is not there. I have a beautiful lambskin mini, which has only ever sat in its box, yet somehow it has got small scratches on it, just from taking it out to look at. Once Chanel is the same price as a Birkin, I will be moving over to Hermes.

  • Giselle

    Bought a WoC the other day from Chanel boutique, the logo was off center by about 1/4″. When I came back to return it, the SA couldn’t see it was off. Very dissapointed by the whole Chanel strategy. I’m turning to vintage.

  • Mr P

    Everyone bitching about the prices: READ THE ARTICLE it explains exactly why the cost keeps rising – because otherwise everyone would be walking around with a CHANEL bag and they would become worthless. They have to be slightly unattainable to keep everyone lusting after them. It’s just good business; and the opposite of greedy; – they could drop the unit price and sell far more bags and make far more money, but then no one would want them and the brand would lose value long term. Think about it.