Categories
Handbags

My Afternoon In Purse Heaven: A Look Inside Fashionphile Headquarters

Fashionphile buys and sells pre-owned luxury goods. They invited me for the afternoon.

Fashionphile pays attention to every detail. It’s apparent from their sleek website, but behind the scenes is where the true magic happens behind this multimillion dollar luxury resale business.

Tucked away behind an unassuming business park in the hills of Carlsbad, you’ll find a modern, airy office space dedicated to luxury handbags: the headquarters of a luxury resale company named Fashonphile.

Pulling in to the gated driveway a warm February day, I was immediately greeted by a security guard whose role is protect a fortress of multimillion dollar purses from unwanted visitors. I entered through the corporate entrance, seated in an open waiting room peering into a boardroom with clear sliding doors on both sides.

On the other side of the boardroom, I could see a wall of custom handbag wallpaper in a rainbow of colors, featuring some of Fashionphile’s best-selling designer handbags from Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Yves Saint Laurent. I knew I was in the right place.

I was greeted by two Fashionphile employees who had invited me for a tour of Fashionphile after reading this very blog (a big deal for me!!). I explained how flattered I was to be invited to Fashionphile.

We talked bags, the resale industry, influencers and bloggers, Netflix, and their thriving business. Fashionphile has been around since 1999–they were the first direct-to-consumer luxury online reseller!

In 2019, Fashionphile secured an investment by Neiman Marcus to add a “Sell to Fashionphile” boutique in every store. For the resale business, this move was huge. Not only does it mean more business and foot traffic for Fashionphile, but it also told everyone that buying pre-owned is awesome. According to Forbes, Fashionphile has an online inventory of 15,000 items, $200 million in gross merchandise value and profitable.


I was invited to tour the rest of the HQ, which was extremely exciting for a resale nerd and handbag lover.

Yes, please. Show me everything.

The wallpapered purse hallway of my dreams lead to a large, open corporate section of Fashionphile. This wasn’t your average office space; there was nothing corporate about it. I was instantly overloaded with visual candy: neon signs reading “Authentication Station” like a club, handbag-inspired artwork, a giant brass shelf with binders filled with 20+ years of information gathered from authenticating millions of luxury items, and rows of pristine $4,000 Louis Vuitton bags ready to be authenticated and listed for sale online.

Designer accessories are highly counterfeited and Fashionphile takes authentication very seriously.

Every time an item comes into the Fashionphile HQ, it goes through a rigorous screening process involving a combination of highly-trained staff and top-of-the-line technology. Fine jewelry is brought into the office of a GIA-certified gemologist to scan, weigh, grade, and authenticate every piece (GIA is right up the street, Sarah Davis tells me, like it’s a point of pride).

Each employee is trained about authentication when they first start at Fashionphile. They are sent through several days of onboarding training where they learn everything from precise colors and hardware to logos and fonts on luxury brands.

According to Fashionphile, authenticators start in an apprenticeship and must undergo 5,200 hours of training in order to authenticate seven brands on their own; after 6,100 hours, they can work within 21 brands; after 6,460 hours, they can work on 32 or more.

Fashionphile uses a wide range of technology to aid in authentication too.  There’s tech that can identify Pantone shades, which helps to authenticate Hermès colors and a machine that can X-ray a bag to reveal the hardware inside, a way to identify counterfeit Louis Vuitton and Hermes bags.

Once items are authenticated, they are rolled down a conveyor belt into a brightly-lit room where each product is carefully photographed by hopeful young photographers working in tandem. Once photographed, $1,000 Louis Vuitton bags are sent to the website team to list each item for sale, then moved upstairs to a locked cage containing rows and rows of luxury pieces.

Upstairs, a high-security gate guards the mother-load of designer purses. Sarah Davis opens the gate for us with a keycard (only a few employees access), dubbed The Cage.

Have you seen that picture of Kylie Jenner’s handbag closet? Imagine that, but multiple it by 100. That’s the Fashionphile Cage.

Rows of Hermes Birkins in every single shade of the rainbow (that’s an average price of $11,000); an entire wall of Chanel black boxes with a $5,000 flap bag nestled in each; limited edition Louis Vuitton Petit Malle mini trunks that sell for $4,000 on the resale market.

When an item is sold, it’s filled with Fashionphile’s signature hot pink and black tissue paper confetti and placed delicately inside a custom branded box. Then, the box is put into a bin and sent down a custom hot pink slide to be shipped. Yes, a hot pink slide. Custom everything.

When the box arrives at its new home, the customer opens it in anticipation. Confetti spills out of the box to reveal a Louis Vuitton Monogram Pochette Metis. The customer smiles cheek to cheek.

True delight. That’s what Fashionphile specializes in.


Q&A about Fashionphile:

Where does Fashionphile get bags from? Is it all resale? Yes! Fashionphile is all designer resale. Items are purchased directly or consigned from real people.

Can we shop online? Yes! Fashionphile is an online shop. You can shop Fashionphile here.

Why no dust bags? I asked the same question, The area where bags are kept is temperature controlled and very, very clean. Fashionphile sells through items quickly and they are easier to find when not in dust bags.

What did you learn about authentication? Because of my background working with Yoogi’s Closet, I already know a great deal about authentication processes. However, I learned truly how much technology Fashionphile uses to make sure every item is truly authentic.

Lobby | Image courtesy of FASHIONPHILE
FASHIONPHILE Showroom
Fashionphile HQ Photography Studio | Image courtesy of FASHIONPHILE

FASHIONPHILE HQ: a Rainbow of Birkins, Chanel bags, and Louis Vuitton Pochette Metis bags

THE CAGE! | Image courtesy of FASHIONPHILE

FASHIONPHILE’s dedication to authenticity is apparent in this dissected display of comparing an authentic Louis Vuitton bag vs. the counterfeit version.

Fashionphile’s Custom Pink Lego Birkin

58,000 Lego bricks make up this pink Birkin made for Fashionphile’s HQ. WOW!

The Counterfeit Graveyard

Where fakes go to die! Counterfeit items are saved, labeled, and used in authentication training. Below, you will see two fake Chanel Boy bags that are used to train new authenticators.

By Becca Risa Luna

Seattle-based fashion writer and personal essayist. Likes designer handbags, glaring openness, and subtle vulgarity.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s