Handbags and Accessories

Find Your Perfect Chanel Tote Bag

By Lindsey Weiss
Shop Chanel Tote Bags , Available for Immediate Shipping
Chanel Tote Bag

History of the Chanel Tote Bag

When Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel launched her first perfume – N°5 – in 1921, she was already a force to be reckoned with in the Paris fashion world. From haute couture fashion and handbags to beauty products, each facet of the Chanel brand was, and still is, inspired by Coco Chanel’s revolutionary spirit. By the 1960s, Chanel was a global, household name, worn by the most prominent women of the era. Coco Chanel passed away in 1971, but her legacy lived on. The arrival of Karl Lagerfeld in 1983 was a pivotal moment for the Chanel brand, as he breathed new life into the iconic fashion house, designing for the modern woman. The success of Chanel is largely attributed to the entrepreneurial spirit and creativity of its founder, and the abilities of her successors to reinvent with timeless allure. The House of Chanel has created some of the most legendary fashion pieces of all time, continuing to withstand the test of time.

Chanel Grand Shopping Tote

The first iconic Chanel tote bag was released in the 1990s. The Chanel Grand Shopping Tote and the Chanel Petite Shopping Tote were sold until 2015. The Chanel Grand Shopping tote came in two sizes the Grand or XL. The Chanel tote bag had a roomy interior with diamond quilting, embossed CC with two leather chain shoulder straps. After the GST was discontinued in 2015, the desirability of these Chanel tote bags skyrocketed. The Chanel Shopping Tote is a rare vintage find and remains coveted among those in the know.

Classic Chanel Tote Bag

Chanel Tote Bag Classic Black Quilted Calfskin Large Silver Hardware

The Classic Chanel Tote Bag is similar to the Grand Shopping Tote but does not have the embossed CC and instead has a metal push lock CC. The Classic Chanel tote bag is available in multiple colors, materials and hardware options. Its details are similar to the Chanel Classic Flap in tote form and is for the Chanel lover or collector that loves all things classic Chanel. It is instantly recognizable and timeless and perfect for work or weekends. Chanel regular releases classic Chanel tote bags but as with all Chanel bags, most are regularly sold out in boutiques.

Vintage Chanel Tote Bag

Vintage Chanel Tote Bag Black CC Embossed Caviar Gold Hardware, 1996-1997

The Vintage Chanel Tote Bag is for the Chanel fan looking for something unique but also classic. These totes are almost always black with gold hardware unless you are lucky enough to find a Grand Shopping Tote. Karl Lagerfeld’s inaugural designs from the ‘80s and ‘90s have remained the most highly sought after pieces for vintage Chanel hunters. His radical riffs on the iconic motifs and classic designs of Chanel were unexpected and immediately coveted. Moreover, the value of vintage Chanel bags is enhanced by real 24k gold-plated hardware, as evidenced on chains, clasps, grommets, and CC turnlocks. In late 2008, Chanel pivoted from 24k gold hardware to gold-toned hardware, subtly differentiating vintage and modern pieces. Lagerfeld was a master of branding and quickly modernized the luxury fashion house, as evidenced through his transformation of the interlocking “CC” design. He famously declared, “logos are the Esperanto of marketing, luxury, and business today.” Karl Lagerfeld turned an aging fashion house into the ultimate status symbol, and his earliest handbag designs are a testament to the enduring power of his vision. The Chanel tote bags from the 80s and 90s are worth seeking out.

Chanel Tote Bag Deauville

Chanel Tote Bag Deauville GM Multicolor Straw Raffia Gold Hardware, 2020

Refined yet casual, the Chanel Deauville tote was first introduced for the Spring-Summer 2012 collection. It is named after Coco Chanel's her first boutique that opened in 1913 located at Rue Gontaut-Biron in Deauville. The Deauville tote was an instant hit with buyers. The Deauville quickly became available in multiple colors, hardware, and material options to suit any season or occasion. Adorned with two intertwined chains, leather straps, the iconic interlocking CC logo, and “31 Rue Cambon” (the address of Coco Chanel’s apartment and first boutique), this tote is an ode to the luxury brand’s rich history. The spacious tote is equipped with large zipped pockets and a key clasp, ensuring that no personal belongings be misplaced. Designed as the ideal beach bag – able to hold all the oceanside necessities one may need – the Deauville is functional in all variations. Available in Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large, the only obvious difference among these tote offerings is that the Small does not have the additional leather handles that the larger sizes do. Instead, it is carried by the classic woven Chanel chain shoulder straps for a lighter wear.

Limited Edition Chanel Tote Bag

Chanel Tote Bag Beige, Red, Teal, Graffiti CanvasSilver Hardware, 2014

Every season Chanel also produces limited edition tote bags. The limited edition Chanel tote bag is the ultimate collector piece since it is only produced for one season. The Chanel Graffiti bags from the Spring/Summer 2014 collection remain popular with collectors today. Chanel bags in excellent condition from this collection regularly sell way above the original retail price. The entire season was inspired by the arts and Karl Lagerfeld's use of graffiti on the bags was a nod to its controversial art form.

More from Sotheby's

Stay informed with Sotheby’s top stories, videos, events & news.

Receive the best from Sotheby’s delivered to your inbox.

By subscribing you are agreeing to Sotheby’s Privacy Policy. You can unsubscribe from Sotheby’s emails at any time by clicking the “Manage your Subscriptions” link in any of your emails.

Close