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.