Why I Bought My Céline Large Trio Bag Pre-Loved & Buying With The Real Real
Last month I finally added the Céline Large Trio in a beautiful burgundy lambskin to my handbag collection after having this particular bag on my luxury wishlist for a few years. Today's post isn't a review of the bag itself (maybe I'll do that down the road after I've used it a bit more), rather it's more of a deep dive into the thought process I had when buying this bag the way I did and how that went. This was my first experience buying a pre-loved bag and also my first time ordering from The Real Real. As with all my luxury purchases, I do extensive research before hitting the 'order' button and can guess if you're reading this post, you likely do as well.
This is my second Céline handbag purchase; I purchased my Nano Luggage in Kohl in November 2017 from the Céline boutique in Barcelona. There are a few reasons why I try to purchase Céline bags in general pre-loved and a reason specific to the Trio:
- In February 2018 Hedi Slimane replaced Phoebe Philo as the creative director at Céline, at which point he changed the brand's name to just Celine (without the accent on the e). Along with the logo change, the overall vibe of Celine changed overnight into Saint Laurent 2.0 and triggered a wave of #oldceline posts. I don't consider myself well-versed in sartorial matters but I much preferred Phoebe Philo's sensible, made-for-women aesthetic to the glittery mini dresses that Hedi Slimane featured in his debut Celine show.
- When Hedi Slimane took the ropes at Celine, he made a few changes to the existing bags such altering the leathers, hardware, etc. As far as I can tell, the pull tabs on the Trio bags were the main things that were changed (they are now metal instead of leather). I've read that the leather on the Classic Box (another bag on my wishlist) has changed and is now prone to creasing on the shoulder strap, which I saw first hand in a Celine boutique last year in London.
- Price is of course a big factor when purchasing pre-loved goods and it makes sense to go this route if you'll save a lot of money in the process. The Large Trio currently retails for $1400 before tax in the U.S. I usually prefer to purchase my designer goods in Europe where the retail prices are often lower in addition to the savings from the VAT refund. But that's not a possibility for the foreseeable future so pre-loved is your best bet at getting a discount. This bag was listed on The Real Real for $945 and I used the code 'REAL' to take get an additional 20% discount. Plus tax, I saved about 45% what I would have paid for a brand new Trio.
The reason I specifically I wanted to get the Trio bag pre-loved is because the buttery smooth leather is prone to scratches and imperfections. I watched several video reviews, compared lots of pre-loved Trio bags on sites like The Real Real and Fashionphile, and it's evident that with use, the Trio will inevitably scuff on the edges and stretch out a bit. It didn't make sense to pay full price for a pristine bag that I know will show wear after a few uses if I could find a bag on the pre-loved market that was near perfect that was significantly cheaper. I've seen a few pre-loved Céline Trios on sites like The Real Real and Fashionphile in great condition and many more in less than stellar condition. I had a price limit in mind in terms of how much I would pay for a pre-loved Céline Trio and bided my time until I saw one in the exact color combination that I wanted (burgundy lambskin with gold hardware) in great condition.
This leads me to the second part of this post which was my experience purchasing this item from The Real Real. First off, let me just say that my overall experience was overwhelmingly positive. I placed the order on a Sunday morning and received the bag that Wednesday. The bag came with both the original Céline dust bag as well as an extra The Real Real branded dust bag (which is not the best quality but it's nice to have on hand).
That being said, I experienced some anxiety in the time between placing the order and actually receiving the bag. I've been a long time lurker on second hand sites like The Real Real and Fashionphile but I'm extremely picky and have added things to my cart several times only to then chicken out and let the items slip through my fingers.
It's important to be a knowledgeable shopper with a healthy dose of skepticism because there are so many counterfeit goods circulating in the pre-loved market. If you really want to be paranoid about authenticity, just take a browse through the /r/repladies subreddit. The Real Real has come under scrutiny in the past over letting counterfeit goods slip through their authentication process. At the volume at which they process new items, it's not surprising at all. I'm not an authentication expert at all but I the authentication threads at The Purse Blog forums are helpful. With the information I've gleaned from the forums and referencing my Céline Nano Luggage, I'm confident my Trio is authentic.
Another potential disadvantage when it comes to purchasing pre-loved (not just The Real Real but the same applies for Fashionphile, ReBag, etc.) is that you don't truly know the condition of the item you're buying. The photos on the website can sometimes be misleading or there's simply a lack of photos that show the true extent of the wear and tear. For example, Céline Trios often show a lot of wear on the bottom corners but the one I purchased had no pictures of the corners on the listing. Additionally, I've read reviews where people received items that were damaged in the warehouse (after the photos were taken) or during shipment. This might not be as big of an issue if The Real Real had a better return policy but I've noticed that many designer bags on the site are listed as final sale, as was this bag that I purchased. I was really fortunate that my bag matched the photos and description on the website and arrived in great condition. I'm not sure if I would have been able to get a refund if for some reason the bag wasn't up to my standards, even if it arrived defective.
While my personal experience purchasing my Céline Large Trio from The Real Real turned out great, it wasn't a spur of the moment decision and not a totally stress-free transaction. Nonetheless, I'm happy with the outcome and I have several more Céline bags on my wishlist that I'm hoping to purchase pre-loved. I hope this post was helpful for some of you and would love to hear your thoughts on buying pre-loved versus new and if you're a fan of Céline as well. Drop me a comment or talk to me on Instagram @karyi12!