Jun 5, 2017

First Timer's Guide to Buying Luxury Bag in Europe

My luxury appetite only involves handbags. I do not spend on other expensive stuff than handbags only. My heart tends to go fragile when I see the beautiful structure, materials (I'm more of a leather person), and colors (though I always buy safe colors like black, nude or brown).

If you're traveling to Europe and want to bring back some handbags, here are some info you can use.

#1 - Which is the country that has cheapest bags?

It depends on a lot of factors:

  • Which is the country of origin for the brand? For example, Chanel is cheaper in Paris. Prada is cheaper in Italy. Burberry is cheaper in England. 
  • Also, you have to take into account of currency exchange rate to be sure of your exact spending. 
  • Where do you buy the item also determine the price? The flagship store will put the price at recommended retail price. And the brand village store will have discounted price. 
  • Whether the item is a new season, past season or limited edition plays an important part of pricing. Limited edition items don't normally come with a discount. Past season may be on sale. 

#2 - How cheap is cheap?

Because it is designer goods, the prices are cheaper in Europe. But not cheap. You are saving on the logistic prices where it gets sent to Malaysia and also some import taxes (go to #3). On a one-to-one comparison, it is still expensive, unless there is a sale (go to #4) and additional discounts (go to #5). Take into the factor that MYR is much weaker than the Euros, this is one of the reasons why the prices here are more expensive. That also weakened our spending power in Europe because the exchange rate is not in our favour.

#3 - Claiming VAT

As a tourist, you are not subjected to the VAT tax of the country. Therefore, remember to claim the VAT tax at the airport before leaving. It has to be done on the last outbound country. At the boutique while purchasing, remember to let the sales person know that you intend to claim the VAT. They will issue a form to you. Bring along the form, the receipt, your passport and the item you bought and present it at the VAT counter. You might not receive the refund immediately. However, it will be remitted into your credit card. Do take into account which company is performing the return. The usual main companies are Global Blue or Travelex. 

Some important thing to keep in mind:

  • Get the VAT form from the boutique or retail store. The store has to stamp on the VAT form and calculate the amount of tax for you.
  • Do not check in your purchase in your check in luggage. Make sure you carry it in your hand.
  • Do not check in the documents in your check in luggage.
  • Allocate a minimum of 30 minutes for the procedure. 
  • Present the form at the counter. Make sure you go to the correct counter - if your refund form is from Global Blue, go to the Global Blue counter. If you can't find the counter, or in a rush, you can post the form to the headquarter from anywhere. I did this, and my refund was remitted after 5 months.
  • Ensure that your credit card is active after a month you submit the VAT claim.

#4 - When is the sale?

In Europe, it is a four season country. The sales happen before the new season starts, before Christmas, on Boxing Day, and before Easter. To get the accurate timing, subscribe to the newsletter online. The store will trigger you when the sales happen.

#5 - Additional discount

Many people don't know that in some stores, they do have additional discounts. The condition of the additional discount can be as simple as downloading their app, subscribing to their newsletter or purchase above a certain amount. On default, the sales persons will not notify you of the additional discount. You have to remember to ask. 

#6 - Book your appointment

If you are sure that you are purchasing something from the flagship store, you can book an appointment at the store one day earlier by giving them a call. This allows you to cut the queue, a personal sales representative will be attending you the entire time. And sometimes, you will be served complimentary champagne and chocolates. 

#7 - What is a flagship store?

A flagship store is a store owned by the brand itself. A flagship store is more than just a retail store. Because it is entirely owned by the brand, they will have some limited edition or rare items. If you are buying one of those rare, it is best to check with the flagship store first. The store will also have all the records of the customers, even internationally. Some flagship store has special display items to feed your artistic needs, cafe and atelier. For example, Hermes Paris flagship store is located at 24 rue du Foubourg Saint-Honore, Louis Vuitton Singapore flagship store is at Bayfront Avenue. 

Have you bought any designer bags in Europe before? Is there anything I missed out? 

I specifically writing this for designer bags and not other designer goods is because I don't buy designer goods in general. I am just a crazy bag lady so it is the bag that I go for. My experience is only on buying bags. If you have any questions regarding designer's bags, you can leave a comment below. 

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