I started a series called: Luxury Designer Bag Investments – Are they actually worth the money? and will be going into the history & background, along with as many notes as possible into each Iconic Bag and how it reached Cult Status… and presumably stayed there!
As there are many bags, I will be posting a new one every week until I run out. 🙂
Today, introducing the…
Hermès Birkin Bag
HISTORY: Why & how it became famous
Jane Birkin, an English woman, was originally famous for dating controversial French musician Serge Gainsbourg. They released a very risqué song called “Je t’aime… moi non plus” in 1969 and she was the icon of French chic.
The story goes that in 1984, Jean-Louis Dumas of Hermès, are in a plane together, and she tells him she needs a shopping bag big enough to carry her daughter Lou’s bottles. So, he creates the Birkin Bag for her.
Ironically, before all of this time, she was toting around this rather unwieldy looking wicker basket that looks very uncomfortable to carry, particularly if you’re also carrying a baby, and obviously she spilled things everywhere.. because it’s a terribly impractical bag.
It has had a bit of a style resurgence with people buying these Birkin-style wicker baskets.
Jane wasn’t particularly careful with her gifted Birkin, not the way some people treat theirs these days, like babies, and she defaced hers with stickers and charms.
You can see just how completely out of shape it is (GASP), but as it is owned by an icon, this would certainly sell for a pretty penny. She definitely didn’t baby it and stuffed it full of crap.
“A Birkin bag is a very good rain hat; just put everything else in a plastic bag,” is only the first.” – Jane Birkin for Vogue
She was so upset with the whole situation of the Birkin bag in June 2015 allegedly mistreating animals that they use the skins for their bag of, that she implored Hermès to remove her name from the bag.
Apparently she was later satisfied that Hermès was ethically sourcing these animal skins, and the whole matter was dropped.
Now? Apparently she doesn’t even use the bag because it gets too heavy with all the crap she carried. Now she just uses pockets. Like a man, she says.
THE MOST EXPENSIVE BIRKIN EVER SOLD WAS….
In 2018 when the Matte Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Birkin 35 with 18k White Gold & Diamond Hardware with 240 diamonds, that sold for $300,322 USD to a Hong Kong buyer.
Personally, it’s rather ugly, but.. I guess it is because the crocodile skin is so delicate and extremely difficult to work with.
WHY ARE BIRKINS SO EXPENSIVE?
Even during the pandemic, the sale of Birkins stayed steady.
A single highly-skilled craftsman in France takes on one single responsibility of the Birkin and spends 18-30 hours depending on what is required, completely making it by hand using the company’s signature saddle stitching, developed in the 1800s.
This Business Insider video will show you exactly why the Hermès Birkin bag is so expensive.
HOW TO SPOT A FAKE BIRKIN
- The stamp is clear, the E is È and the stamp matches the hardware
- Stamp is close to the stitching, centered and even
- The lock is attached directly to the leather band and made of 1 piece of leather
- The bag doesn’t slouch and stays upright
- Stitching is slightly angled, tight and precise, same colour as the bag
- Cutouts for the straps are clean and straight
- The zippers are engraved with the word Hermès & is smooth and uniform
- No authenticity card or hang tags
- Bottom feet won’t twist off on a Birkin
35cm Togo Birkin handbag
|Year||Price in $USD|
RETURNS ON A HERMES BIRKIN BAG
The bag has returned 166% in value since 1984 when it originally cost $2000.
If we normalize it to 2020 dollars, $2000 back in 1984 is now $4968.53.
In stores, it sells for $13,200 in 2020, for a difference of $8231.47 or 166% over what its price would be, taking inflation solely into account.
(Remember, value is also subjective because someone has to see that and buy it from you at that price, just like with stocks, but a lot trickier to liquidate. Also, who is going to buy an old bag when they can buy a new one for the same price?)
The S&P 500 had you invested that same $2000 and not touched it or added any money to it, would have returned: $71,793.62 even with the recent 2020 drop due to the virus:
That said, even though you’d get heck of a lot more money if you just invested it, I wonder what they originally paid for that fancy crocodile Birkin.
I suspect that this is one of those situations where if it is super rare, or owned by an iconic person, it wouldn’t resell for any less than $100,000, even though the bag only cost $13,200 at retail.
If you want to read more…
- Hermès: The Story of the Birkin
- Fashionista: The Story of Birkin
- Who What Wear: On the prices of a Birkin
- Yoogi’s Closet: The Hermès Birkin Guide
- FoxyTote: Birkin Price Guide for 2019
- PurseBlog: Birkin Prices for 2010
- 1stDibs: All the leathers used for Birkins
- 1stDibs: How to spot a fake Hermès Birkin
- CNBC Make It: Into the world of the Birkin
- Rebag: All about the Hermès Birkin
Loved this? You can see the rest of the luxury designer bag comparisons in this series here: Luxury Designer Bag Series.