Understated Elegance, Unobtainable Luxury
Birkins bags are a symbol of understated elegance and unattainable luxury. But what makes them so expensive? And how has Hermes managed to maintain this inimitable elusiveness?
Interested in investing? Does the stock market look like undecipherable code to you? According to a recent study, a Birkin handbag might be the best option for potential investors, even more so than gold, and the stock market!
There are many variations of the brand’s origin, but most of them have a common core: French actress Jane Birkin, spilt the contents of her tote bag on a flight en route to London from Paris. Her gentlemanly neighbor, retrieved her possessions while she lamented on not having a good bag for the weekends. Her neighbor, however, was not just “another” French gentleman. He was Jean-Louis Dumas, then Chairman of the Hermes Group. Having piqued his curiosity, Dumas struck up a conversation with Birkin, probing her as to what she visualized as being the “ideal” bag.
Nearly 35 years later, Birkins are a symbol of understated elegance and unattainable luxury. But what makes them so expensive? And how has Hermes managed to maintain this inimitable elusiveness?
To understand this brand value, one has to dissect the heart and soul of Birkin’s brand philosophy. A family-owned and operated business, Birkin exerts tight control over the manufacturing process of their bags. Unlike most handbag manufacturers, Birkin employs hundreds of skilled tradespeople and artisans to craft their bags—preferring this methodology over mass production. It is believed that the skilled artisans at Hermes undergo a training period of five years before they are allowed to create a Birkin on their own. Each bag is then crafted exclusively by hand, from start to finish—taking 48 hours to complete. This intimacy in the process of creation is a residue of the Parisian brand’s humble origins as a creator of finely crafted horse harnesses and carriages.
Not until 1922 did Hermes enter the world of luxury handbags. Even today, production quantities and lists of prospective clients are tightly restricted to maintain the bag’s near mythical status. Adding to this reputation, the luxury bags are believed to come in a variety of exotic hides—crocodile, calf, lizard, and ostrich to name a few. There have even been Birkins crafted from precious metals such as platinum, studded with diamonds. A Birkin by Japanese designer Ginza Tanaka, is believed to cost around USD 1.9 million, just for one bag. The astronomical price can be attributed to the bag being made of 100% platinum, with over two thousand diamonds, and an eight-carat pear shaped rock.
Today, Birkins are often spotted on the red carpet, in the arms of celebrities who are emblematic of haute couture. Birkin does not exempt these stars from their years-long waiting lists and insane prices. Deviating from other fashion houses, Birkin does not hand out free stuff to public figures—a fact which has gained the brand significant notoriety. Even Jane Birkin herself, recounted paying for four of her namesake bags. Regardless, celebrities and public figures love Hermes. Celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan, Kim Kardashian, Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Lopez are regularly spotted with their Birkins in public—with a few coming up with rather innovative uses for their pieces, Lady Gaga’s sketchpad Birkin and Victoria Beckham’s diaper tote being noteworthy examples. It is rumored that the latter owns over 100 Birkins, in a collection valued at a cool USD 2 million. Even the first lady, Melania Trump, has been spotted with six different Hermes bags since moving into the White House. The bag’s value was analyzed over the course of 35 years, and the results were conclusive. Birkins consistently had a better return on investment than gold, and the stock market recorded a 14.2% increase in value per year! As the value of a Birkin bag increases; and showing no signs of slowing down, it may indeed be wise to purchase your own Birkin; that is, if you can find one.