All You Need to Know About Shopping for Preloved Designer Bags in Japan

Let these bag-hunting tips help you.

First-time shoppers in Japan would most likely want to purchase brand new products, given that the latest from the most reputed brands should be readily available. However, there’s more to the Japan shopping experience than following the new trends or acquiring the season’s best. Japan is a treasure trove of second-hand goods—from electronics and musical instruments, to jewelry and branded luxury items.

Shopping for preloved designer bags has become quite a phenomenon among tourists. If you’re looking to do the same, here are a few reminders to help you on your shopping journey:

There are shops in Japan that specialize in selling pre-owned branded luxury items.

There are quite a few, actually.  They look like your regular department stores, clean and well-lit. Luxury items like watches and designer bags are neatly and properly displayed.

The staff are well-informed.

Most, if not all of the staff in these shops are knowledgeable about the brands and products they’re selling. Aside from speaking Japanese, they should be able to converse with you in English for an easier transaction. Some of the staff can speak other languages as well—Korean, Chinese, Thai, among others—to accommodate tourists of other nationalities.

Branded leather items are available in discount shops and pawn shops, too.

There are shops that look like your regular ukay-ukay, selling a mishmash of items from cameras and bicycles, to used clothes and leather goods. Some of these shops have designer bags and wallets on display in glass cases, with corresponding price tags and for sale. Some are displayed in piles, but you’ll still find something in good condition.

Second-hand doesn’t necessarily mean dirt cheap or damaged.

Many of the bags sold in these shops could generally pass for brand new, at least from a distance. You’ll only know they’re second-hand once you examine them up close.

Most bags are priced according to brand and grade.

Research on the price range of the bag you’re after, and start from there. Most shops put the grade of the pre-owned bags they’re selling, and the grade could go from A to C depending on the condition.

Be willing to pay a little more for bags with a higher grade. You can get something for as low as ¥3,500—an old wallet perhaps—to over ¥1.5 M, depending on the brand and bag grade.

You can haggle.


Since these are second-hand bags, they don’t have suggested retail prices (SRP), so the shops can easily jack up the price tag. But they do have known market prices—again, do your research. Feel free to ask for a discount if you think the price you’re being offered is too high.

You don’t need to worry about counterfeit items.

Rules about bringing in and selling fake luxury items in Japan are very strict. A second-hand shop would never purchase a fake item from someone and resell it. These stores employ expert buyers to make sure they sell only authentic products.

With a little research, you too will know how to tell a legit one from a fake—if you haven’t mastered it yet, that is. Want to be sure? Designer bags come with certificates of authenticity—make sure whatever you buy comes with it, and a dust bag, preferably.

If you want a new style from the latest collection, opt for brand new.

If you want a bag that is part of this season’s current collection, you might as well check out the branded boutiques or the department stores selling brand new items. Going to second-hand shops might not give you the best value for your money.

Take time to go around and canvas before making a purchase.

In Shinjuku alone, there’s an area lined with shops selling pre-owned luxury items. You’ll find your favorite French, Italian, Spanish, and American designer bags there. You can go to as many as 10 stores to check if you’re getting the bag of choice in the condition you want and the best value for your money.

There are also second-hand shops in Shibuya, Harajuku, Ginza, Aoyama, and Kichijoji in Tokyo, as well as farther areas like Saitama. You can also find stores specializing in luxury items in Osaka and Nagoya.

You can shop tax-free.

Consumer tax in Japan is currently at 8% of your purchase. However, some shops do offer tax-free shopping. Just make sure you have your passport—with a visa, of course—with you. There is a required minimum purchase amount to shop tax-free. Check if the shop offers tax-free shopping on top of the discounts, and how much the minimum purchase amount is to avail off the tax offset.

Hopefully, with these tips, shopping for a preloved designer bag will be much easier. Happy bag hunting!


Main Photo by MabelAmber on Pixabay

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