Women addicted to high-end designer bags, but are tight on the budget, resort to a store that buys and sells used but authentic Louis-Vuittons, Guccis and Balenciagas.
MANILA, PHILIPPINES REUTERS -
The cash registers of Prada and Louis Vuitton are still ringing despite an economic crisis, thanks to their rich clientele who remain sheltered from financial woes.
But bag lovers whose budgets are pinched have a second option - a store in Manila called Bagaholic, which buys and resells second-hand luxury purses.
Name the brand and the style, they got it- from Louis Vuitton Monogram Denims and Balenciaga Motorcycles to Chanel Bowlers and Gucci Hobos.
"Women in general, especially Asian women are very crazy over high-end designer bags, and I am one of them. So it actually solves my problem. I don't have to buy bags anymore, I can use what I have here," said store owner, Gigi Bambroffe.
With the help of books and experience, Bambroffe has developed a keen eye for spotting genuines from fakes.
One of nine sellers would offer fakes, Bambroffe said, but she has a steady stream of clients selling her items so they can get rid of last season's styles.
Depending on the bag's quality and popularity, Bambroffe sells them for 30-70 percent off a brand-new item's price tag.
An Hermes Birkin which goes for half a million pesos ($10,596 U.S. dollars), can be purchased for less than 60,000 ($1271.63 U.S. dollars) pesos at the store. A Louis Vuitton Speedy, the store's bestseller, goes for as low as 15,000 pesos ($320 U.S. dollars), compared to its original price of around 40,000 pesos ($850 U.S. dollars).
Business is booming for Bambroffe's one-year-old store. She was surprised that there's a number of Filipino women who would splurge for a slightly used Gucci or a Prada.
But the brand of choice is Louis Vuitton, Bambroffe said, and the boutique in Manila doesn't seem to mind some competition. In fact, they're sending clients over.
"Vuitton actually sent them here to sell their stuff, and they go straight to Vuitton and buy a new one, so I think I'm helping them more than I'm affecting them sales-wise," Bambroffe said.
Businesswoman Danielle Parker owns dozens of designer purses, some brand new, but she now prefers to buy second-hand.
"The price is definitely to die for, because instead of just buying one purse, now I can buy three purses, and instead of just being stuck with one color, now I can actually do more colors," Parker said.
Bambroffe counts female professionals and women with rich husbands as her return clients.
But the bag addiction can start early, as with 16-year-old Sham Kawit who bought four bags in one shopping excursion.
Unlike in luxury boutiques, Bagaholic gives room for bargaining.
"The quality is okay, they look brand-new for 10,000 pesos. It's a practical choice, right?"
The store is located in New World Hotel at Manila's financial district.