Esquire (Singapore) - - Port­fo­lio -

there’s de­mand for. This is what’s known as cre­at­ing “ar­ti­fi­cial scarcity”.

The fam­ily-run firm is guarded on ex­act num­bers, but it’s es­ti­mated that Her­mès pro­duces 70,000 Birkins per year. Be­cause of the qual­ity of ma­te­ri­als used, the time needed to hand-make a bag (sad­dle-stitch­ing, buff­ing, paint­ing, pol­ish­ing and qual­ity-con­trol­ling just one Birkin takes sev­eral days—a sin­gle ar­ti­san com­pletes the task from start to fin­ish), the paucity of peo­ple in France seek­ing work as crafts­men, and the two-plus years it takes to train them, the com­pany would be hard pressed to in­crease num­bers. But with the world’s grow­ing wealth and ever more af­flu­ent in­di­vid­u­als hun­ger­ing for one of these icons, de­mand con­tin­ues to grow. This helps ex­plain why the Birkin has ap­pre­ci­ated in value by more than 500 per­cent over the past four decades, and bags can be sold on the se­condary mar­ket for at least 50 per­cent above their re­tail price.

Ob­tain­ing a Birkin at auc­tion or through an agent who spe­cialises in track­ing down and sourc­ing the bags can be a costly en­deav­our. Get­ting one at re­tail price in-store also re­quires a sig­nif­i­cant com­mit­ment. Sources say sim­ply adding your name to the myth­i­cal 24-month wait­ing list can be hit-or-miss. Many of the most suc­cess­ful Birkin col­lec­tors got their start build­ing a re­la­tion­ship with their lo­cal Her­mès bou­tique, fre­quent­ing the shop and mak­ing reg­u­lar pur­chases, forg­ing a friend­ship with par­tic­u­lar sales con­sul­tants, ever-so-ca­su­ally men­tion­ing their de­sire to buy a Birkin on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions—and wait­ing for the fate­ful day they’d qui­etly be in­vited into a pri­vate room to con­sider a five-fig­ure-and-up hand­bag pur­chase.

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