With the largest selection of new, never worn Hermès Birkin and Kelly bags on the web and a highly knowledgeable team, Madison Avenue Couture is the single most trusted source of never-used luxury handbags online. For years, it has carefully curated and rigorously authenticated the market’s highest quality handbags for it's customers. In fact when it comes to top luxury handbags, Madison Avenue Couture is also a go-to for leading auction houses, major e-commerce sites, and private concierge/procurement services. Since 2010, company founder and CEO Judy Taylor has offered a simplified process for acquiring the very best in luxury and hard to find handbags. Global clients consistently depend on Judy and her team to pair them with the Hermès bag they want whether it is their first Birkin, a limited edition Kelly, a rare and collectible exotic, or something else. Due to demand, Madison Avenue Couture has expanded its concierge services. If a specific bag isn't in its stock they will search the globe to find it, while ensuring it meets the specifications demanded by the client. MadisonAvenueCouture.com is an easy-to-navigate website, yet it also offers an additional service in the form of a Manhattan, New York showroom, where Taylor and her team offer by-appointment, one-one-one personal shopping experiences. Shopping Hermès handbags at the showroom comes with a key advantage: clients have the chance to view Birkins and Kellys in different sizes, leathers, and hardware---something that isn't possible when shopping Hermès boutiques. At the showroom, Taylor and her team are eager to share their incomparable knowledge of Hermès, and they take great measures to assist clients in making their ideal investment, as well as help them select the best bag for their lifestyle and objective. It's a guaranteed intimate shopping experience, one that luxury fashion doesn't always offer. We sat down with founder Judy Taylor to get the inside story on this Story + Rain digital destination.
How did Madison Avenue Couture get its start? In 2003, and decided I was going to retire. I took cooking classes, read, exercised, and started selling the clothing that I wore during my corporate life. Ebay was booming at the time, so I started buying and reselling. And it grew. At the end of 2008 the economic meltdown happened, and 2009 was a very difficult year for retail; we lost a lot of money. However I loved what I was doing, and I learned a lot about what was selling and what wasn't. So in February 2010, we started Madison Avenue Couture. Our idea was to merge the past with the present. We moved into a small office which was great, as we had clothing racks in our living room! In addition to acquiring the inventory that I had owned personally, we began to purchase bags, accessories and costume jewelry, primarily vintage Hermès, and Chanel. Prior to the move, I reached out to many of the flash sale sites, to discuss entering into partnership. Those sites — Hautelook, Gilt, Ruelala, and a few smaller ones, were new thing. Hautelook had partnered with Decades, who was sourcing stuff from me. Gilt was uncomfortable buying resale. But Ruelala was a much more aggressive company. It took months, but we made a deal with Ruelala and went live in May 2010. It was a mega hit. Our boutique on ruelala.com sold out. It featured Hermés bags, Chanel bags, Chanel vintage costume jewelry, and some Hermès jewelry and accessories. My corporate background proved to be a benefit. We wrote the copy, set the prices, determined the margins, etc. There weren’t many dealers who could do this back then. We started doing monthly boutiques, each a super-success. That gave us the impetus to actively buy handbags, costume jewelry, and accessories. In the interim, we built our own website. Eventually we sent our vintage clothing to auction. We toyed with the idea of changing our name, but never did. In 2012, we moved from Ruelala to Gilt, and worked in partnership with them until early 2015. Since then, we have worked with others like Moda Operandi and Sotheby’s, but we focused primarily in strengthening our own brand. Today, our offices, website and social media reflect our brand.
What are the primary channels and ways in which you source your bags? We focus on fresh- from-the-boutique merchandise and items that can only be procured in quantity by working closely with other vetted dealers in the industry. Our purchases from individuals account for a small portion of our buy. We do buy some mint preowned, but our standards are very high in terms of condition. We are buying almost 24/7. Good pieces are hard to find, especially when supply has been so limited due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Who is your customer? Everyone from women who are collectors, to those who are buying their first bag, to men who are gifting to their wives. We have a showroom, so it gives people the opportunity to view a bag before purchasing. This has proven very helpful especially for the non-collector, who can’t quite grasp the different leathers, colors or sizes.
What challenging or interesting requests have you received from either your clients? It's difficult to find specific bags. Hermès retires colors, and often people will be looking for a color that is no longer produced.
What are the top three sought-after handbags? Birkin black and Birkin gold in sizes 30 and 35 with both palladium and gold hardware in togo leather, to the holy grail, Himalayan Birkin and Kelly in size 25.
What does one need to consider when looking to sell their designer bags? We specialize in Hermès, with a few Chanel and Louis Vuitton in the mix. Hermès has the best resale of all bags. They are classic and timeless. I read an article once, that said they're worth 85% of store retail. If you buy from a dealer it will be worth less if you sell it a year or two later. But if you hold it for years, you might be able to recoup the original investment, if not more. Chanel bags are the second best, especially the classic flap. Ultimately I believe bags should be carried and enjoyed. It’s just good to know that the opportunity exists to recoup your investment should you want to rotate your collection or reduce your collection as your lifestyle changes.
Judy Taylor, Madison Avenue Couture Founder and CEO