Few handbags carry the status of Chanel’s Flap Bags. Reintroduced by Karl Lagerfeldt in 1983, this iconic shoulder bag saw first light when Coco Chanel presented its predecessor: the 2.55. Today the flap bag is a global fashion phenomenon and with good reason; this is the bag to start with if you plan on building your own collection. Read our guide to learn what you need to know when you shop for vintage Chanel flap bags.
History Chanel Flap Bag
Coco Chanel introduced the first flap bag in February (2) 1955 (55), hence the name “2.55”. To fully appreciate the 2.55 and what it stands for, we have put it into a broader context:
Growing up during “La Belle Epoque”, with its romanticized arts and heavy influence on fashion, Coco designed clothes for a new type of woman. The modern woman was to be independent and free, yet beautiful and stylish.
The 2.55 allowed women to bring with them private necessities and offered 3 ways to be carried: as a clutch, over the shoulder and even cross-body – thus embodying Coco’s ethos. In particular it was the adding of the chain that made the 2.55 such a revolutionary piece. For the first time, it freed the hands for women who no longer needed to carry a clutch. In fact, Coco explained that being tired of always carrying a clutch around led her to designing the 2.55 Double Flap Bag.
The lock is a defining detail in Chanel Flap Bag history. The original 2.55 bags carried the “Mademoiselle Lock”.
Chanel discontinued the Mademoiselle Lock to make room for a new style under Karl Lagerfeldt’s creative direction. In 1983 he introduced the iconic CC turnlock. So to be entirely correct; only bags with the CC lock are “Classic Flap Bags” while the name “2.55” refers to the bags with the Mademoiselle Lock. In general though, the terms are used quite freely.
In February 2005 Chanel reintroduced the 2.55 as the 2.55 “Reissue”. It was brought back to celebrate the model’s 50th anniversary.
Design Chanel Flap Bag
Over the years, Chanel has tweaked, modified and reinterpreted the Classic Flap Bag. This has resulted in that it can be hard, even for seasoned collectors to know which the model in question. As a pioneering fashion house, Chanel explores many new designs and materials each season, but some styles and codes remain, such as the Classic Flap Bag.
The archetypical Chanel Flap Bag is crafted in quilted lambskin, burgundy red calfskin interior, and gold-toned hardware. The quilted leather has been a staple since the very beginning and is said to stem from Coco’s love of horseback riding. During her orphanage upbringing, quilting was worn strictly by boys whom worked in the stables. The burgundy interior, however, was a nod to the childrens’ uniform.
Caviar leather is another common material for Flap Bags. While the name may imply something else, it is in fact a treated, grained leather – made to resist water and scratches. Though the original retail price for lambskin and Caviar at Chanel is the same; well kept bags manufactured in Caviar tend to fetch a higher price due to their relative scarcity.
You find the classic materials in a plethora of colours. If you want something more special you can find bags made from materials such as cotton and transparent plastic, to excotic leathers.
Another material that has become more popular in the last years is tweed. These bags are loved for their soft fabrics, creative designs and of course the unique reference to Chanel’s heritage.
Another trademark on flap bags is the chain. Vintage Chanel classic flap bags from after Lagerfeldt’s entry will have a leather strap woven through gold or silver toned hardware. The hardware of the strap should always match the lock. 2.55s and 2.55 Reissue often have a thinner metal chain without leather details.
Difference Chanel Double & Single Flap
In the world of flap bags, we do an important distinction between Single Flap Bags and Double Flap Bags. Most Flap Bags are of the double kind. As the name suggests these have an internal flap with CC stitched on the underside.
In the 1990’s Chanel started producing Single Flap bags without the otherwise omnipresent internal flap. These bags have a sleeker shape and a lighter weight, offering the wearer a sophisticated silhouette. Over the years, Chanel has temporarily halted production of certain models, including the Single Flap model, which in turn has inflated the market price for vintage and pre-owned Single Flap bags.
You’ll find second-hand Chanel flap bags in different sizes. The sizing can be a bit confusing since measurements have been seasonal, however, most resurface. When shopping for vintage Chanel you can find these most popular models:
Mini Flap Bag
Small Flap Bag
Medium Flap Bag
Large Flap Bag
Jumbo Flap Bag
The medium is the most traditional size. If someone mentions “Classic flap bag” or “2.55” they are probably referring to the Medium Flap Bag. All variants have their unique uses, so you can always find a Flap Bag that will suit your needs, regardless if it is for evening wear or for the office.
Why invest in a vintage Chanel Flap Bag?
Practicality combined with style
First thing’s first: A Vintage Chanel Flap Bags is practical. They offer room for all your essentials, but more importantly, they are excellent for elevating any style. Whether you are going for a sophisticated evening look or just put on trackpants to get milk; your vintage Flap Bag is the stylish compliment you need. A patinated look on a Chanel bag also adds to the bags appearance and shows style over fashion. Also, buying preloved is a statement for sustainability. With Chanel you can combine make it a statement for style too.
And they last. Chanel Flap Bags, and especially bags from the late 80’s to the early 2000s, are of very high quality. The fine materials and expert craftsmanship put into the production mean lasting pieces that can acquire beautiful patina with use. Even the hardware of these older bags is finer than on new models and retain a higher carat of gold plating. Apart from this, Chanel Flap Bags have a structured composition and if treated well, they’ll keep their shape for tens of years.
They are actual investments
You have probably heard the term “investment piece”, perhaps from a friend or colleague whom have just secured their dream bag. The term is probably best exemplified by the second-hand Chanel Flap Bag: a high-quality handbag, made from fine materials by master craftsmen and from a well known, international fashion house.
Furthermore, due to the Chanels policy of raising prices 2-8 % several times a year over the last decade, the value increase is nothing short of impressive. So if you don’t want to pay full price and still want to invest your money in a safe commodity with great short term yields; pre-owned Classic Double Flap bags are probably your best bet.
Remember when shopping preloved Chanel bags
Due to the fact that Flap Bags are made from organic materials and held together with cotton thread and glue, they should be stored correctly. Keep yours laying down with the turnlock facing upwards, inside its dust-bag and in a low humidity environment. Should your vintage Flap Bag have lost some of its original structure, make sure to stuff it with paper towels and in the position described above. Avoid dust and prolonged exposure to water all costs as it dries the leather and significantly shortens its lifespan.
Being of very high quality Flap Bags and if cared for through the years, your Flap Bag should last for generations. But even so, repairs may be necessary along the way. In our experience though, a damage is most likely to occur to the stitching first.
Counterfeits, knock offs & fake Chanel Flap bags
As one of the most iconic handbags of all time, it is also one of the most counterfeited models we see. Therefore you need to make sure that the bag comes from a trusted source, like THEBROWNPAPERBAG.
Unfortunately, in the last few years we have seen more “Super fakes” than ever before. These are counterfeit bags that even the most dedicated collector could mistake for the real deal. But, despite their likeness to the real deal, the quality of these bags is no match for the test of time and they will live for only a fraction of the time an authentic Chanel bag will. And remember, a fake bag has no real value, so be careful and make sure that you buy an authentic Chanel bag from the beginning.
Shop vintage Chanel Double Flap Bags
THEBROWNPAPERBAG is Scandinavia’s leading webshop for vintage Chanel Flap Bags. We always have a large selection of Chanel bags available and each piece comes with our lifetime guarantee on authenticity and 14-day returns. Here you can shop our collection of guaranteed authentic Chanel Double Flap Bags.