May 08 , 2018
A couple of weeks ago, Credit Suisse released a report detailing social media activity around 14 luxury -- and aspirational luxury -- handbag labels. (The report mostly measured chatter, as well as the positivity or negativity of said chatter.) Vanessa Friedman of the New York Times offered a pretty comprehensive summary of the findings. Here's a boiled-down version: At the high end, "quiet luxury" labels like Hermès fared worse than bolder brands such as Fendi and Louis Vuitton. (Célineand Bottega Veneta were not even mentioned by name, probably because those houses do not generate enough yearly sales for their respective conglomerates to be interesting enough to Credit Suisse. Dior was missing, too.) The sentiment around not-so-subtle Gucci was pretty negative, while minimalist Calvin Klein saw a massive, and seemingly positive, uptick in interest.
It could be argued that Hermès should give a hoot what the web is saying about its bags, because the whole point of the world's most revered leather goods maker is that it's not all up in your face. What's more, as Friedman noted, "We won’t know whether the data is actually going to translate into an equivalent sales profile for another six to nine months." But it got me wondering: what are shoppers of luxury handbags hungry for at this very moment? I asked San Francisco-based designer consignment shop The RealReal to pull data for me on the bestselling luxury handbag brands in its 10 biggest markets. I chose a reseller for this exercise because many of these brands -- including Hermès and Céline -- are not available to purchase outright via the web. Resellers also have a better sense of what's still in demand from a couple of seasons, or years, ago.
The results were not terribly surprising. Except when they were. Because TheRealReal broke down sales by city so that we could see what brands are trending in which towns. I asked the site's chief merchant, Rati Sahi Levesque, to walk me through the findings:
CHICAGO: LOUIS VUITTON, CHANEL AND CÉLINE
Louis Vuitton was the top-selling brand in nearly every city, including Chicago. "LV is constantly in demand," says Sahi Levesque. "It's relevant among top fashion influencers, as well as in the more commercial market." Céline is also big here, although it didn't reach the top three in many other cities.
DALLAS: LOUIS VUITTON, CHANEL, GUCCI
No surprises here: Dallas likes its logos big and bold. Along with LV, it's a big market for Chanel -- where Karl Lagerfeld held his Métiers D'Art show last December -- as well as those interlocking Gs.
DENVER: LOUIS VUITTON, GOYARD, GUCCI
This was an interesting one: While LV and Gucci are popular all over the country, Goyard -- with its famous chevron print -- only shows up on Denver's list.
HOUSTON: LOUIS VUITTON, CHANEL, HERMÈS
LVMH's biggest brand wins here, too, alongside what is arguably its two biggest competitors.
LOS ANGELES: LOUIS VUITTON, CHANEL, CÉLINE
Hoorah, another win for Céline! But why aren't we seeing more of it? "Céline is often less recognizable than other brands," says Sahi Levesque. "The minimalist aesthetic and subtle logo make it unique."
MIAMI: CHANEL, LOUIS VUITTON, HERMÈS
Miami was one of only two U.S. cities where Chanel came in as the top-selling brand.
NEW YORK: CHANEL, HERMÈS, LOUIS VUITTON
Unsurprisingly, New York was the other city that favored Chanel over the others. And while Louis Vuitton still made the top tier, it was in third place here.
SAN FRANCISCO: LOUIS VUITTON, CHANEL, CÉLINE
Céline stands alongside stalwarts Chanel and Louis Vuitton in a city flush with new money.
SEATTLE: LOUIS VUITTON, GUCCI, CHANEL
It's interesting that non-conformist Seattle sells conventional brands best.
WASHINGTON, D.C.: LOUIS VUITTON, CHANEL, HERMÈS
In a city where polish comes first in appearance, it's fitting that its shoppers would choose three brands fit for Olivia Pope.