February 1955 is a date to remember. Back then, Gabriel Chanel launched the Chanel 2.55 bag, soon to be an icon. Fun fact: the name refers to the month and year in which Mademoiselle Chanel designed the bag. Let’s go back to here and now: a time in which the bag has been more popular than ever. Chances are big that the numbers of Chanel bags on your daily Instagram feed are exploding. Likewise, vintage stores offer the most precious editions and re-issues, but how do you know whether these are real? We’ve asked for advice from some experts – including a couple of proud Chanel owners.
Cover photo: courtesy of Chanel
Chanel bag history
“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different”, according to Gabrielle Chanel. One thing is still sure: when wearing Chanel, you feel special, perhaps even different. This classic Chanel flap bag was certainly something different back in the fifties. ‘Coco’ designed it with her favorite apéros in mind: the French parties where she had always been struggling with clinging a bag underneath her armpit while smoking a cigarette, enjoying a glass of wine or some hors d’oeuvre. That was, until February 1955, when she developed a bag that was designed to put an end to the hassle. And so, the Chanel 2.55 bag was born.
When growing up, Chanel had been placed in a monastery. Her time spent there has been a great source of inspiration in many ways. For example, when designing the 2.55 bag in 1920, she drew inspiration from the nuns for the thing straps of the bag. The bag was then introduced to the public in 1929 but became a big hit with the relaunch in 1955, after which the bag is named. Contrary to popular belief, the Chanel 2.55 bag wasn’t the first Chanel bag ever.
Chanel 2.55 reissue
In honor of the bag’s 50th birthday, Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld relaunched the bag in 2005. He changed a couple of things, though. All 2.55 bags that have been produced after its 50th birthday, are referred to as the ‘Chanel 2.55 reissue’. The interlocking CC logo has been on market since the eighties and stems from Karl Lagerfeld’s creative leading as well. It has been part of the classic Chanel flap bag ever since.
Authenticating Chanel 2.55
Leandra Cohen recently posed the question: ‘What makes an everyday bag good?’ According to her, the answer is fourfold: it’s all about durability, size, style, and price – exactly where Chanel’s iconic flap bag passes the test. Before splurging into a vintage edition of the bag, make sure to know whether it’s the real deal. How do you know whether a Chanel bag is authentic? We’ve developed the following checklist:
- Check the availability of an authenticity card. If it isn’t available, the price should be much lower, since authenticity can’t be assured.
- Know which edition you’re buying into. The reissued model has different flaps inside than the original one, as well as different-looking leather. The price depends – among other factors – on the year it was issued, so be aware of the edition’s ‘birth year’.
- Count the stitching per panel and compare it to a real Chanel bag, for example, one available on Chanel’s website. The stitching per panel should be high, to retail the quality. Rip-offs usually are of poorer quality and therefore have a lower amount of stitching per panel.
- Check both the front and back of the lock. Older editions have a square lock, re-editions feature the iconic double C-lock. The back of the lock, or lock stem, is made from 24K gold authentically and remains in good condition over time.
- Take a closer look at the chain straps. Vintage Chanel bags mostly have a link without the leather braided through, where counterfeit bags usually don’t.
- Only buy vintage Chanel bags from authenticated resellers, such as Farfetch Pre-owned, Rebelle, or Vestiaire Collective. Usually, vendors like these guarantee their authenticity.
- At last, there aren’t any original Chanel bags produced in China. So if China is the country of origin of a certain Chanel bag, know that it’s fake.
In recent years, the Chanel 2.55 bag has increased in value by 70% (!). Mainly the medium flap bag has gained popularity. It is, therefore, to say that this bag is a safe bet and a great investment at the same time.