Maia Urrutia: Tips for buying pre-loved luxury items

WORDSWORTH - Mons Romulo - The Philippine Star
Maia Urrutia: Tips for buying pre-loved luxury items
Maia Urrutia, founder, The Bag Hub.

Since the prices of luxury brands are forever rising, a lot have chosen to let go and sell their pre-loved bags and shoes — while others have opted to wait and buy these pre-loved luxury items at much more reasonable prices.

Maia Urrutia started from humble beginnings, a one-woman team that was Maia herself. From the onset, it was always Maia’s goal to make luxury items accessible to the public, especially to those who saw the high retail costs of designer items. From her humble roots of directly scouting and selling to individual clients in the confines of the Makati office scene, Maia has grown her brand, The Bag Hub, into one of the most trusted and long-standing luxury item consignment stores in the country today.

“I have always been interested in the world of fashion and luxury,” Maia says. “From a young age, I would read the lifestyle and fashion sections of newspapers and fashion magazines and aspire to live that kind of lifestyle.  In 2009, I discovered that I had a knack for selling, and my sister-in-law (now my partner), Ling Urrutia King, gave me the opportunity to resell her pre-owned designer shoes and bags. At that time, I was a young mom in my early twenties, and purchasing luxury designer bags was out of my means,” she recounts. “So when I started the business and began reselling designer bags for others, the goal was to make authentic designer bags more accessible to women like myself who aspire to own them. Our first tag line was, ‘Authentic Designer Bags minus the “ouch” in your pouch’!”

Maia’s experience with luxury items traces back to more than a decade of dealing with consignments and personal shopping. Starting off with a single designer bag that she immediately sold in 2009, Maia immediately found her calling in making luxury items accessible by opening a market of idle but still exceptionally good designer items. With this, The Bag Hub was born as an online consignment and shopping service. Considering how most designer items remain stored in closets, she saw an opportunity that makes a win-win situation for both a consignor and buyer. Consignors get part of what they spent back, and buyers get a chance at owning a designer item at a considerably lower price. She first served her clients by making personal pitches in Makati offices and doctors’ clinics, then, as she bore her first child, by entertaining clients and fulfilling transactions in her own home in Pasig. Given the growth of the brand and after a series of movements, The Bag Hub eventually settled into its current location and physical store at the retail hub of The Grove by Rockwell.

When asked what fulfillment she gets from this business, she told us, “ I have always had a deep appreciation for designer bags’ aesthetics. They are truly works of art that you can carry. Every design is carefully thought of and crafted to enhance both beauty and utility. I see the finer details in authentication and it is something I enjoy doing.  I take pleasure in providing excellent customer service to both our consignors and buyers. Our goal is not just to complete a transaction but to ensure that our clients are satisfied and are getting a great bargain to bring home.”

A professional consignment service has been the core and pride of Maia and The Bag Hub. A careful and stringent process of authenticating each designer item has ensured each client’s trust, as exceptional care is always undertaken to ensure that any item consigned remains as pristine as the moment it was handed over, as well as ensuring — down to the last stich — the authenticity of each item. Through this, The Bag Hub gained a trusted following. Most of Maia and The Bag Hub’s clients, both consignors and buyers, have been longtime, repeat customers. And as the years go by, through word of mouth and exceptional reviews, The Bag Hub has been gaining newer, younger clients, fulfilling its goal of making luxury items accessible to everyone.

Maia has recently invested in a new physical store where clients may see firsthand the items that they wish to purchase. Maia shares with us that she has come across counterfeit products multiple times and they come in different types: there are those cheap replicas, some that are mirror copies, and even the super-fake ones!

“With the luxury market constantly evolving, the copies are also getting better and it’s becoming harder to differentiate them from the real deal. Sometimes, the owners of these counterfeit goods are not even aware that they’re duped, while some are doing it intentionally to fool others. Because of this, we make sure to be vigilant with our authentication process. We implement a three-layer check and when we’re in doubt, we call on third-party professional authenticators/authentication for help.”

Here are some tips from Maia that can guide you in making that purchase.

1. Know what you like but be open and willing to compromise. Every pre-owned bag is unique — price, color, and condition can be different with each piece. If you find a model you like that is in pristine condition but not in your color preference, consider it because no two pre-owned bags are alike.

2. Do not hesitate and make haste! If you like it, buy it. Most of the time, pre-owned bags sell quickly. If it’s a good deal, don’t overthink because there is a high chance that it will be snapped up by another buyer.

3. Do your own market research. Scout and check for pre-owned prices in the market. Set your budget. Try to check international prices, too, you’ll be surprised that our pre-owned prices are as competitive or much lower than in other known consignment markets like Japan and Hong Kong.

4. Buy from reputable resellers who are experienced in the industry. Make sure that the seller is credible, that the online shop has been around for years and has a good knowledge in authentication and not just relying on Entrupy (an AI authentication gadget). Experience in handling authentic designer goods plays a massive role in authentication, given that the fine details of luxury designer goods may be more nuanced than what artificial intelligence-based authentication can process.

5. Ask for the complete details of the item, such as inclusions, flaws, and detailed photos. This is important, especially if you are buying online. In our shop, we put a premium on transparency by declaring all damages, flaws, and whatever information our buyer needs to know about the item.

6. Go to a physical store and see the actual condition if you can. You must make sure that the condition is acceptable to you. Scams are also prevalent in the reselling industry, so meet up with the seller if you can and the seller should be willing to show the actual item to you.

7. Manage your expectations. You are buying a pre-owned item, so a 10/10 or good as new condition may not be as fresh or as brand-new as you would expect. Sometimes they may look perfect but may have undesirable odors from storage.

8. Know the fine print. Know how you are protected by asking for the exchange policy or authentication warranty. Know how the seller will back you up in case you experience authenticity issues about the item. By having knowledge of these details, you can minimize the risk of purchasing a bad item.

9. Don’t get sucked in by those deals that are too good to be true. A super-rare model that is in pristine condition at 30 percent off the retail? Is it really your lucky day? Super-fakes are rampant in the market now, and they’re not cheap at all; gone are the days when replicas were dirt cheap and easy to spot. Be wise and go back to number 3 — if you are buying a hard-to-get piece, know that you should be paying a premium for it.

10. Authenticate for peace of mind. Nowadays, there are several credible authenticators online who can do this for you. Entrupy, as an alternative option, is an authentication service that is also widely available in the Philippines.



(You may visit The Bag Hub, 2F, The Grove Retail Row, E. Rodriguez Jr., Pasig City with contact no +63 917 873 7278 or check out their website: www.thebaghub.com  and IG: @thebaghub.) (We welcome your suggestions and comments. Please e-mail me at [email protected]. Follow me on Instagram @monsromulo.)

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