The Hermes Birkin Bag - Reems Closet

The Hermes Birkin Bag

What makes the Hermes Birkin bag so drool worthy that people are willing to go to such extreme lengths to own one or ideally a collection of them! This isn’t something that happened overnight, so let’s look at the journey it took for this handbag to reach such an iconic status. 

The Hermes philosophy

It’s no surprise newly hired craftsmen need to undergo two to six years of mandatory training before they can begin working on any Hermes leather products. Hermes as a company limits new hiring of craftsmen for their leather goods division to maintain quality control as has been the case for the past six generations. 

Every new artisan undergoes a three day in-house training session known as “Inside the Orange Box” that covers the entire history of the brand and each product category. You may ask what is the idea behind it? Well, it’s to make every Hermes employee feel close and identify with the company’s culture, value and philosophy. 

“We don’t have a policy of image, we have a policy of product.” – says former CEO, Jean-Louis Dunas.

And this philosophy still holds true today. Every Hermes product is signed off by Creative Director Pierre-Alexis Dumas before leaving one of the 54 workshops in France.

The origin of the Birkin

The Birkin was born in 1984 after a chance meeting on a plane between Hermes CEO, Jean-Louis Dumas and British actress, Jane Birkin. Fate would have it that the two were seated together on an international flight and Jane told Jean-Louis that she couldn’t find a suitable travel bag as a new mother. Inspired, Jean-Louis sketched the perfect bag for Jane on the flight and named it after her. The luxury brand Hermes was actually founded in 1837 as a harness and carriage workshop in Paris by Thierry Hermes.

It’s a bespoke handbag

The Birkin bag comes in many sizes such as 25cm, 30cm, 35cm, 40cm and 50cm. The original Birkin material was calfbox leather, but now you can choose from a variety of leathers including clemence, togo, epsom or fjord and also exotic skins such as ostrich and crocodile. The expertly made hardware is usually made from brass and then plated with either gold or silver-plated palladium. And best of all, the bag comes in every color combination imaginable.

Why are Birkins expensive

There are many reasons starting with that every Birkin bag is handmade by one artisan to ensure the quality of craftsmanship and uniqueness. It takes up to 40 hours to complete using the brand’s signature saddle-stitching technique. The one that never unravels. This is why a Birkin bag can cost anywhere up to USD 300,000.

An important reason is that a small quantity of Birkins are released every year - approximately only 12,000 are produced every year. Hermes is hush-hush about its availability, which is part of the allure. A study in 2017 revealed that the Birkin’s value has increased by 500% in the last 35 years. No wonder, it’s known as a long-term investment piece. Now you can look chic while being money smart.

Achieving iconic status

It wasn’t until 2001 that the Birkin received the ultimate status symbol when a Sex and The City episode showcased Samantha trying to skip the five-year waiting list to own one. After airing, it was reported that the Birkin waiting list tripled in length. Not surprising with the iconic line: “It’s not a bag. It’s a Birkin.”

Many fashion icons like Kate Moss and Victoria Beckham are seen out and about with a Birkin. Rumor has it that Victoria owns 100 Birkin bags valued at GBP 1.5 million. But Singaporean socialite and entrepreneur, Jamie Chau, is reported to have the largest collection, which is 200 to date.

How to own a Birkin

And that’s the real question! With the Hermes Birkin bag being the most sought-after handbag in the world, if availability is scarce at your local Hermes store, then your best bet is to look at luxury consignment/resale stores, like us at Reems Closet.

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