The Queen of All Bags: Hermes Birkin
Tips & Advice
- written by LIF Team
The Hermes Birkin undoubtedly holds the title as the most high-end handbag in the world. So how did the Queen of bags obtain her crown?
It all began when the chief executive of Hermes was seated next to style icon Jane Birkin on a plane back in the 1980s. Jane complained of never finding a weekend bag that was sufficiently sizey and practical – so he designed the perfect bag and named the Hermes Birkin in Jane’s honour.
While the origins of the Birkin are well-known, less so is the painstaking craftsmanship that goes into producing a Birkin. The Hermes artisans undertake most of the work by hand, with each Birkin taking up to 48 hours of work to create.
Prospective Hermes artisans must pass rigorous skills tests before being deemed worthy of being assigned to Birkin-making, and the pressure doesn’t stop there. The artisans must ensure that each hand-stitch of the Birkin is absolutely symmetrical and every detail absolutely perfect, or it has to be re-done.
The price of a Birkin varies rapidly depending on the leathers and finishes used. Hermes are very cloak and dagger about publishing prices of their high-high-end bags but generally a Birkin starts from around the $14,000 mark. At the other end of the spectrum, the crocodile Birkins can be up to 10 or 20 times that price.
Headlines were made around the world last year when a pink crocodile Birkin with gold and diamond hardware sold at Christie’s auction house for US$223,000.
But back to the more ‘entry level’ Birkins, is the $14,000+ price worth it? The extreme demand for these bags means that many buyers think it is. With a lifetime warranty for repairs, the Birkins are quite literally the most well crafted handbags in the world. Because of this, most Birkins increase in value over time, which is no easy feat for a handbag.
So how do you buy one? One does not simply walk into Hermes and purchase a Birkin. Rather, you must be added to the waitlist which can span up to 6 years. There are also infamous tails of customers trying to display “brand loyalty” by buying up big on other Hermes products and attempting to building rapport with the Hermes sales associates.
But, you may ask, is all of that worth it for ‘a bag’? We’ll leave this to Samantha from Sex and the City to answer – “It’s not a bag, it’s a ****ing Birkin”.