‘Pre-loved’ luxury bag store Designer Exchange has designs on US market
Designer Exchange, a Dublin-based store which buys and sells pre-owned designer handbags, is developing its website to sell to international buyers of luxury goods.
Co-owner and managing director Paddy Coughlan said the company had received funding from Enterprise Ireland to upgrade its website in order to target shoppers outside Ireland.
He believes the US holds the greatest potential and has already enjoyed plenty of business from American tourists visiting his shop just off Grafton Street.
“The US consumer wants European product when it comes to designer,” he said, with Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Hermes among the high-end labels most desired by shoppers in the States.
“When you go to buy a Louis Vuitton in the US, it’s got a cloth tag on the inside that says ‘Made in the USA’. Our customers come over here and they want a ‘Made in France’ leather tag.
"They want what they feel is the origins of the brand.”
Some of the most expensive bags such as the Hermes Kelly cost tens of thousands of euro but the customer base here for such high-tag items is limited. Therefore, Coughlan said the business would benefit from scale.
The business is also backed by businessman Kevin Neary, a co-founder and former director of GameStop Ireland, where Coughlan previously worked.
The worlds of computer gaming and high-end designer handbags could hardly be further apart in retail terms but for Coughlan there was a common thread – trade-ins.
The business, set up in 2012, initially focused on designer clothing before settling on designer bags, moving more upmarket as the business developed.
He said that current trends include younger shoppers, aged 18 to 24, buying designer handbags, as well as those buying investment bags which can deliver strong returns for owners.
He gave the example of the Chanel Diana bag.
“Back in 2015, I sold two within the space of two months. I sold one for €800 and one for €1,000. I rang both of those customers back in 2017 and I made them offers of €3,300 each to buy them back because the market had driven them up,” he said.
Among the developments at the company has been the adoption of Entrupy technology, an AI device which can authenticate bags from 18 designers. Designer Exchange has 18 staff, including three full-time authenticators, but Coughlan felt the added guarantee from Entrupy benefited both customers and the shop itself.
“Not only is the customer financially protected and guaranteed, we are too,” he said.