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The BackStory: If Pre-Loved Designer Bags Could Talk

Christine Costello | @irishtatler Dec 04, 2018

Designer Exchange is Dublin’s top pre-loved designer handbag store where it’s not just the label on the bag that matters, but the story behind it too. With top brands like Louis Vuitton dating back as far back as 1854, this family-orientated, Dublin business believes in the rich history of the brands and the stories they have to tell.

Whether it’s the touching tales of family heirlooms to unsuspecting and delighted tourists, Designer Exchange manager and owner, Patrick Coughlan has been collecting stories and bags since the Dawson Street doors opened in 2012.

As Ireland's only dedicated pre-loved designer handbag and accessory store, they aim to become the ‘go to’ destination for luxury, providing our customers with the ability to unlock value by selling us their previously loved items. They also strictly authenticate every desginer piece and leave no stone unturned in doing so. 

The most striking incident that comes to mind involves an estate sale in Germany where an Irish customer discovered a small fortune in the form of a vintage Louis Vuitton Trunk.

“It was an incredibly large LV trunk with all the drawers and everything inside in it. Now, I could have given him €500 then for it, but what we did, between him and myself, we researched the trunk and eventually found out it was worth €42K,” Coughlan explains.

“In the end, he didn’t sell it to me, but he wrapped it in Perspex, put it in his living room as a coffee table. His plan now is to hold that until his newborn daughter is old enough and use it to put her through university or college.”

From the gift of education to the gift of a lifetime, Coughlan tells a second story of a fortunate Italian tourist who found the item of her dreams, during her midweek trip to Dublin.

“Initially I didn’t know what was wrong with her, she just reacted with such a shock. She pointed behind the counter and said ‘Oh My God, Chanel 2005!’ I said, ‘Yes, that’s right, Madame.’ She replied, ‘Can I please see it, Can I please see it.’ I took it down, she put it on her hand, loved it straight away, bought it straight away and told me her story.”

In 2005, she had gone to Chanel in Milan and she was looking to buy the exact bracelet, but they were completely sold out, including back stock.

“You know, if I could bottle and sell that feeling of happiness you see from a lot of people who come in and find items they previously thought were unattainable, that feeling bottled and sold would make me a multimillionaire.”

Although still in its early days, Designer Exchange has seen an abundance of stories and gems come through its doors. A simple passion for retail has spawned dozens of memories for customers across the globe. Coughlan’s closing line promises that this story is nowhere near complete with many new chapters still to come.

“In stock at the moment I have a 1955 Hermes travel wallet, it’s beautiful and leather. It’s over fifty years old now and its stood the test of time, it’s in wonderful condition. That wallet probably has a story behind it, it probably travelled all across the world with whatever gentlemen or lady owned it, taking cheques out in different countries and so on. If it could talk, I’m sure it would tell a million stories.”

If you're looking to show some love this Christmas, why not shop pre-loved and be sure to stop into the Designer Exchange on Dawson St or their recently opened new store, located at 35 Exchequer Street. Dublin 2.

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