When Rebecca Dransfield lost a beloved Prada handbag given to her by her late mother, she feared she would never see its like again. But the story of how a team of luxury goods hunters scoured the globe and tracked down a replica is told tonight in Channel 4 documentary Second Hand for 50 Grand.
Rebecca, 25, is the daughter of Deborah Holmes, founder of boutique independent department store Sandersons, and her husband, Mark Dransfield, MD of Dransfield Properties, which developed the award-winning shopping and dining destination Fox Valley, 10 miles north of Sheffield. Deborah sadly died of cancer in January 2019, and Mark took on the role of CEO of Sandersons.
Rebecca explained she was given the Prada handbag several years ago on a family holiday to Singapore with her parents and younger sister, Lucy. “We both got to pick our own bags and my sister chose a Chanel flap bag, which is more of a collector’s thing. She has always been into antiques and she knows what holds their value, whereas I just go for what looks pretty,” she said.
Rebecca chose a striking white Prada handbag. “I just loved it,” she said. But when she and her family attended an event organised by Sandersons in Bradfield, South Yorkshire, for the Tour de France in 2014, the bag was stolen, along with her mum’s Burberry trench coat.
“I was so upset and I tried to find a replacement for it but, me being me, I had picked a bag that had been discontinued, whereas my sister’s had been increasing in value.
“Over the years I have spent time trying to find a similar bag or the same one and I just haven’t been able to source one. I was so desperate to get hold of it because it was my first proper bag.”
Rebecca, who took up her new job as buyer at Sandersons last month, asked her friend, Reece Morgan, head of handbags at pre-loved luxury goods retailer Xupes, to see if he could find an exact match for the stolen bag. The story of the search is told on Channel 4 tonight at 10pm in Second Hand for 50 Grand, which follows the Xupes team as it scours the globe for designer pieces for specific clients, including firefighter Hywell, who is seeking proof that the watch given to him by his grandfather is genuine.
As for Rebecca’s Prada handbag, Reece did indeed manage to source a replica. “They managed to get it,” she said. The TV production team surprised her with the successful finding, so that they could film her natural reaction when she first saw it. “It took me back to when Mum and Dad bought it for me in Singapore, and I was just so in love with the bag. It was so good to get it and because I had spent so much time trying to find this bag, I couldn’t believe that they had actually got it.
“It made me feel a bit emotional because Mum used to take me and Lu shopping,” she said, adding that her mother never bought them expensive designer pieces. “But it was a really special holiday. It took me back to when I chose it with Mum.”
A month ago, Rebecca, a graduate of the Fashion Retail Academy, stepped into her mother’s stylish shoes when she joined the family business as buyer. Deborah opened Sandersons in September 2016 at the Fox Valley shopping park in her home town of Stocksbridge, fulfilling a long-held dream of creating her own independent department store.
During last year’s lockdown, Rebecca created and modelled for a series of socially distanced photo shoots within the store, capturing the imagination of customers on social media and helping to drive online and home delivery sales. Some of her favourite looks featured on the pages of the Yorkshire Post Magazine.
Rebecca is certain that the bag is not her actual original Prada one. “My bag was worn out,” she said. “It was a summer bag and I used to wear it with absolutely everything. Come rain or shine, that bag would be out.”
But she says she will not be stepping out any time soon with her replica bag. “That is not coming out with me. I am so scared to wear it. That is going to stay in my dressing room for a long time, untouched.”
* Second Hand For 50 Grand is on Channel 4 tonight, Wednesday, April 21, at 10pm.