I wish I could tell you that I have a closet teeming with only designer items. But, let’s be honest . . . that’s not the case. I do have a number of gorgeous designer and high street dresses, bags and shoes. But they’re stored next to what you would consider your essentials from H&M and Forever21, blazers and dresses from J.Crew and Banana Republic, a few funky vintage items from consignment stores and my mom’s closet, and an item or two covered in skulls that I have not been able to give away from Hot Topic . . . I’m still a goth girl at heart, after all.
So for my most recent birthday, an important one I might add, I wanted to go big in Paris. I wanted a Classic Chanel flap bag. So I saved . . . and saved . . . and saved . . . pretty much every extra penny I could get my hands on. My mom gave me money for my birthday and Christmas specifically for my Chanel bag. It all added up and by the time I left for Paris, I had more than twice what I needed for the bag. So what did I do? I bought a pair of Chanel flats and Louboutin “So Kate” pumps while I was there. Why did I do all of this in Paris???
Because I did my homework.
Chanel and Christian Louboutin are both French companies. Most of their items are made in France or somewhere else in Europe so you’re not dealing with steep import charges added into the price.
Now, obviously the exchange rate changes from day to day so this might not be accurate now. But while I was in France the American dollar was stronger than it had been in a long time. On average, it was approximately $1.14 to every 1€.
In the U.S. a Chanel flap bag in the size I selected costs $4,900 without the luxury tax. In France, it costs 4250€ including the luxury tax. So that means with the exchange rate on that day, I bought my gorgeous new baby for a little over $4,800 American dollars. Now that doesn’t seem like a huge difference. However, because I’ll be getting back the luxury tax I will have spent about $4,100 instead of $4,900 American dollars for a Classic Chanel flap bag. That’s a difference of $800 and that’s not even taking into account what the U.S. luxury tax might have been.
That $800 savings allowed me to buy the Chanel flats. They cost about $750 without tax in the U.S. They were 540€ with tax in France which ended up being about $610 U.S. dollars. And again, I’ll be getting back about $70 in taxes. So instead of paying $750 + tax for Chanel flats, I paid $540.
Louboutins were almost as good a deal. In the U.S., the Louboutin “So Kate” pumps are $695 without tax. In France they are 515€ with tax. They ended up being about $580 U.S. dollars and I’ll be getting back about $50 in taxes. Which means I bought them for $530 instead of $695 + tax.
But when I looked at a Marc Jacobs bag at Le BHV Marais, it was over 100€ more expensive than it would have been in the U.S. Obviously I decided against that purchase.
So, as I said: Do your homework.
Figure out which brands are native to whatever country your going to be traveling. Obviously Versace, Dolce & Gabbanna and Valentino are Italian designers so you’ll most likely find the best deals in Italy. Burberry is a British brand so you’ll find good deals there (especially in the middle of Brexit!). Look at what you want, what is there and the exchange rate at the time. And look into the taxes that you might be able to get back. That was a big part of the deals I found in Paris.
And, most importantly, happy shopping!
This was originally posted August 2016.