One of the most expensive handbags in the history of luxury brands, is the iconic Hermes Birkin, famous for its exemplary craftsmanship and spiraling prices.
Considered to be property on your arm, this piece of luxury has achieved the most ‘sought-after’ status, be it royalty, celebrities and even luxury lovers.
So, what makes the tote, both- a status symbol and a timeless classic? Let’s dive a bit into the story of the Birkin.
Actress and singer Jane Birkin, was known for carrying a wicker basket everywhere. On one of her flights from Paris to London in 1981, while trying to keep the basket in the upper compartments, the basket lid came off and her neighbor seated sat up helping to arrange them. This neighbor was Jean-Louis Dumas, the then executive chairman of Hermès.
A conversation between them ensued, with Birkin explaining her need for a functional-yet-stylish bag. Dumas immediately started on a faint sketch that went on to become the legendary Birkin that we have today.
Initially, Hermes was known for crafting horse harnesses and carriages. The French fashion house entered the world of luxury handbags in 1922. However, it wasn’t until 1984, that the Birkin was officially created. Yet, it wasn’t exactly a roaring success.
How did Hermes Birkin gain cult status?
It was 1990s, and Chanel was ruling luxury charts, when the Birkin was officially launched.
Then came August 2001, and Samantha Jones’ iconic line lines from Sex and The City- “It’s not a bag, it’s a Birkin!” did it for skyrocketing the bag’s popularity.
Owing to its exclusivity, the Hermes Birkin quietly entered the Veblen Goods club.
Reasons that make The Hermes Birkin a Luxury Must-Have
An artisan has to undergo meticulous training for five years to be able to make their first Birkin tote.
Each bag takes up to 18 hours and is hand-sewn by a single artisan, from start to finish following the company’s signature saddle stitching, developed in the 1800s, after which they are buffed, painted, and polished.
The brand uses leathers which are obtained from different tanners in France. Each bag is marked with its year of creation, the workshop it was created in and the artisan who created it, so that the same artisan can repair it when need arises.
2. Long Waiting lines
The brands strategy to maintain exclusivity is unmatched by any other brand in the world.
The highly coveted Hermes Birkin can have a waiting list of up to 6 years. Customers need to have a purchase history with the brand, only then can they avail one. In fact stores too are allowed to order a limited number of these totes.
3. Re-sale Value
The price of a Birkin bag can range anywhere from twelve thousand dollars to millions, with some considering it to be a better investment than gold. This is the reason that drives high demand for it.
An apt example would be that of their 30-centimetre matte white Himalaya Niloticus crocodile Birkin with 18-carat white gold and hardware bearing 245 diamonds being sold at a Christie’s auction in Hong Kong for US$377,261, created a new record for the most expensive handbag in the world
In another example, a limited edition Birkin bag designed by Japanese artist Ginza Tanaka sold for over $2 million at a Christie’s auction in Hong Kong in 2021.
As a result of strong demand, the Birkin bag has a high resale value in many countries. Prices of a Birkin increases annually, which means one will always make a profit on them.
Be it Victoria Beckham, the Kardashians, or Nita Ambani closer home, the Hermes Birkin continues to enjoy luxury status and impart a look of class and chic to its proud owner.